Mitt Romney Writes a Thing, People React

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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29 Responses

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m always amazed by this claim that Romney didn’t fight in 2012 or that he went soft on Obama. He went after him pretty hard. And he outpolled the GOP nationwide. But the stink of the Bush years, the recovering economy and Obama’s considerable political skill were too much for him. Trump, for all his “fight”, got less of the vote than Romney did and against a much more unlikeable opponent at a time when Americans were getting tired of the Democratic Party. It was the worst “post-incumbency” result in American political history. I’m reminded of what a commenter on the old blog said: he’d rather lose an election with a Republican who demonizes Democrats than win with one that works with them.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Hal_10000 says:

      FIFY: he’d rather lose an election with a Republican who demonizes Democrats than win with one that works with them who turns Republicans into demons.

      The most rational thing I tried to tell conservatives who felt they had to vote for Trump was that Trump hadn’t built the infrastructure to carry-out the things that needed changing in the Republican party… and that owing to his incompetence, petty corruption (or maybe not so petty), and intemperance he will set-back any “improvements” that conservatives wanted to see from the party.

      As a testimony to my golden tongue and airtight reasoning, I’m pretty sure I convinced a grand total of one (1) person not to vote for him… me.

      However, as a sad follow-on to the above, the starting point where we all agreed was that Mitt Romney (as an Avatar) was the reason the Republican party needed to change.

      I’d call this baby steps; but baby steps backwards.Report

  2. Pinky says:

    Has there ever been someone who served as a governor for one state and a senator for another? Maybe back during the western expansion? And Mitt’s dad was governor of a third state. The return of Mitt Romney should have been one of the top stories of the last political year.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Pinky says:

      Sam Houston was the Governor of Tennessee and later a US Senator from Texas. (He was also a ‘President’ – even did the Cleveland non-consecutive thing)Report

  3. J_A says:

    Since we can be sure Mitt, like Sasse, Rand Paul, Flake (in his time) and all other members of the Axis of Serious Concern, will reliably vote for whatever Trump says, or hints, he wants, whatever Op-Eds Romney writes will make zero differenceReport

  4. greginak says:

    I generally agree with many of the takes that Romney will just do a Sasse/Flake by posturing, fretting and nothing else. However Trump has always been as thin skinned as a hormonal 14 year so this kind of thing shouildn’t be tossed away as nothing. We’ll see where Romney goes from here. If he stands for something he may lead a few other R pols to speak up.Report

    • J_A in reply to greginak says:

      If he stands for something he may lead a few other R pols to speak up.

      Rommney would rather die than “stand for something” [that could eventually get in the way of his next campaign]Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

      I think he’ll do something (TM), I’m just not sure that it will be the something that a lot of the breathless commentary is hoping for… I thought Damon Linker summed it up about right:

      But this is both terribly short-sighted and myopically partisan.

      For one thing, the standard for judging Romney’s opposition to Trump can’t be what a Democrat in Republican clothing would do. Trump’s judicial nominees, for example, are drawn from the same pool of conservatives from which a President Romney would select his own appointments to the federal courts. That means nothing Trump does will inspire Romney to oppose the president’s nominees. The same holds for additional cuts to taxes and regulations. Those are bedrock priorities for Republicans of both the Trumpist and establishment wings of the party, so it’s foolish and unfair to expect Romney to mount a challenge to the president on those issues.

      But in other areas — immigration, trade, foreign policy — active opposition from Romney is more likely. The same holds for the president’s most intemperate tweets denouncing the press and demonizing minorities.

      [emphasis mine]

      The weird thing is that Romney is out of step large swaths of the country on immigration, trade, foreign policy. The real question is how out of step will the Democrats be on immigration, trade and foreign policy.

      I think Andrew makes a really good observation: “The most useful part of watching what Romney does might be in using him as a barometer of what Republican leadership is doing independent of the president.” In this, I’d snarkily observe that he is a proxy for “all the king’s horses and men” standing around the Humpty of the Republican party.

      On the plus side, should Mueller provide solid grounds for impeachment, I expect Romney will be the tree under which a number (TBD) of Republican Senators will take shelter.Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Aren’t most Senate Republicans out-of-step with Trump on matters of “immigration, trade, foreign policy” ? I’m not sure Romney changes much of the ideological framework of the Senate. He just brings greater name recognition and a willingness to court the national media.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Yes, and I think that’s by design of the whole Senate, 6-year term, rotating cycle thing that we want to abolish.

          Replace it with a big Red or Blue button that we press once every 4 years. Better, an app.

          More seriously, I’m not entirely sure what becomes of the Republican brand after 2020 (or 2024)… I can see lots of possible paths, just can’t tell which ones will be available or taken yet.Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Still to be determined: Will there by a credible Republican challenger? The AP has an article this morning that is mostly smoke, but no tangible evidence beyond a Kasich visit to New Hampshire. If there is one, that will probably do more to determine the Republican brand as it will compel a lot of actors to make a decision.

            Edit: Given this is a Romney thread, I don’t think that is what Romney is doing. But possibly he is trying to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness that prepares the way.Report

            • J_A in reply to PD Shaw says:

              Well, if Lawyers, Guns, and Money is to be believed (they are lawyers, after all, they know about this stuff), the GOP is thinking out loud about forbidding primary challenges to sitting presidents.

              I’m sure Eric Cantor is kicking himself for not thinking about this before. And why, pray you, only presidential primaries?Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to J_A says:

                I’d assume that the G & M Lawyers would know that most of the rules governing the primaries are set at the state level; that may require a 50 state legislative overhaul of the election code. The national party could change the rules to ignore the primary results, but the primaries might still happen? That may be just as bad as a primary challenge.Report

              • bookdragon in reply to PD Shaw says:

                That would be interesting. I’d almost expect a bunch of state leges to retaliate by passing laws requiring that tax returns be released in order for a candidate to be allowed on the ballot. Not directly anti-Trump, but it would mean a challenger might have to be considered if you weren’t going to have a narrower path to EC victory.Report

            • pin in reply to PD Shaw says:

              Kasich would receive 2% of the votes, if that. Another mainstream challenger would receive 20-40% of the votes, and never win a state. That’s my guess, at least, and I should know better than to guess at election results.

              Kasich wants the job and has alienated a lot of people. I might vote for him in a primary against Trump, but not comfortably. But give me someone who is running as a protest vote, and within the traditional Republican mainstream (of ideas), and they’d have my vote in a heartbeat. There’s something honorable about losing on principle. There’s nothing honorable about preying on a weakened opponent.

              The tough part is, how do you create a multi-state protest vote candidacy? A local guy, an Evan McMullin, can pull of 21% in his state on one day. But the primary process is designed to grind down smaller candidates so that one candidate emerges hero-like. I guess I’m describing a Pat Buchanan. I don’t know that you could do that any more, definitely not against Trump who was an insurrectionist from the beginning.

              Is there value in having a minor candidate dog Trump throughout the primaries? I guess I have to articulate what benefits I’m looking for. Trump isn’t going to lose the primary barring some calamity. Trump isn’t going to become a decent person. I don’t want to see Trump weakened as he heads into the general election unless the Democrats nominate someone better. So I’m looking for someone who will push Trump to the right on issues. But on what issues is Trump re-trainable? Debt? He spent his whole life not understanding that debt is supposed to be paid off. Trade? He always thinks he can negotiate something better. Foreign policy? Same thing; he sees everything as a trade, and himself as the best negotiator.

              OK, so I have to ask myself, is this a pride thing? I’m not finding a lot of benefits from having a different person to vote for.

              ETA: “pin”? Did I forget how to spell “Pinky”?Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to pin says:

                When I brought this up 9-12 months ago in response to something Marchmaine wrote, I stated that the most important thing then was whether a credible Republican challenger would be talking with others over the coming months to clear the field (ala Bush II in the runup to 2000). Trump won the nomination through sequential plurality wins made possible by a large field. I don’t know that I would put money on the outcome, but I think its uniquely doable under the circumstances.

                I don’t believe that Carter or Bush I lost because of primary challenges. I think they had troubled headwinds that correlated with primary challenges. Conventional wisdom says otherwise, so it may be true in a meaningful way regardless.

                By credible Republican challenger, I am tempted to think I mean someone I’ve heard of before, but really what I think is, it would need to be someone that can touch all the bases of the Republican party.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to PD Shaw says:

          I think what we are seeing is the slow motion divorce of the Republican donor class from the voting base.

          Most of the Trump fans don’t seem to give a rip about “free trade” or any particular foreign policy.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to PD Shaw says:

          And yet, Trump is so popular among GOP voters that GOP Senators refuse to cross him on the issues you mentioned.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Would Linker say the same if it were President Sean Penn, Senator Harris, and universal healthcare?

        Somehow, I doubt it. I think our pundit class would be tut tutting Democratic Senators and telling them that they must resist the decades long priorities.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Obviously I can’t speak for Linker; but I see absolutely no reason why Linker (or I) would think it out of place for Senator Gore to support President Penn’s nomination of Merrick Garland or to vote in favor of expanding Federal Healthcare proposals.

          As thought experiments go, I don’t think that’s a hard one to crossover and imagine.

          The fun part is wondering whether he would simultaneously tut-tutt the pot-fueled makeover of the Beast and cautioning PrezPenn against negotiating directly with the Drug Lords for better MFN prices and suggesting that he won’t vote to authorize fast track negotiating powers… while simultaneously lamenting that PrezPenn *already* has fast track negotiating powers that were vested in the Presidency previously… but that’s just one possible universe in which PrezPenn wins 2020.Report

  5. Pinky says:

    But what are Sasse, Romney, et al, supposed to be doing that they’re not? And politically, how are they supposed to?

    Most of us can agree that Trump is not our ideal president, either in character or in policy. I’d love to see national agreement that we improve our political tone, but the presidential elections of 2008, 2012, and 2016 have been celebrations of petulance and division. And in terms of policy, there is no one default position for people who don’t like Trump. Even on the Republican side, there are libertarians, moderates, neocons, socons, and all possible combinations thereof. And those voices were raised against Trump in the primaries, and they lost. President Trump is being uncannily like Candidate Trump. So there’s just no single, obvious, defensible rallying point for Trump’s opposition.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    The Jeff Flake mantle of seeming concerned while doing nothing substantial and getting praise for it goes to…

    Mitt Romney. Congratulations Mitt, you are now the proof that many journalists are easy marks.Report

  7. pillsy says:

    “I’ll stand up to President Trump unless it conflicts with GOP policy preferences,” has been functionally indistinguishable from, “I’ll never actually use the powers of my office to inhibit Trump,” in the past, and likely always will be. The Senate GOP needs Trump a lot more than he needs them. They desperately want, for instance, Federalist Society-approved nominees they can approve for the federal bench, but does anyone think Trump gives a shit?

    He can veto stuff they want to pass out of spite, or blow up negotiations on bills with the House, or any of a million other things.

    I’d love to significantly change my priors about Romney, but, well, they wouldn’t be my priors if I thought I was going to have to do that.Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    I’ll say again, I really dislike that Romney has his (soon to be) current job. He’s providing zero value added, and quite likely negative value, due to opportunity costs both for him and the next generation of political leadership.Report