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Conservatism Donald Trump Politics Roger Kimball US Politics

The pathetic crusade of Mitt Romney

The Utah senator-elect thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the ‘mantle of the office’

January 3, 2019

9:38 AM

3 January 2019

9:38 AM

A couple of days ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute announced that Donald Trump, pursuing a central campaign promise to cut federal regulations and ‘drain the swamp,’ had during his first two years in office issued the fewest new rules ‘in recorded history.’

In other news, Mitt Romney, the failed presidential candidate and incoming junior senator from Utah, published a stinging rebuke of the President in the Washington Post. ‘[H]is conduct over the past two years,’ Romney wrote, ‘particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.’

According to Bill Kristol, Romney’s attack made him the de facto ‘leader of the Republican resistance to Trump.’

Max Boot also liked Romney’s attack on the President. ‘[H]e threw down the gauntlet’ to the President, Max wrote, speculating that the op-ed might impart ‘backbone’ to a feckless GOP that has hitherto lacked the gumption to resist Trump.

Others were less impressed. The President swatted back on Twitter. ‘Here we go with Mitt Romney. . . . Question will be, is he a [Jeff] Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!’

Many commentators noted that Romney was happy to have Trump’s endorsement when he ran for President in 2012 and, just a few months ago, when he ran for the Senate. As Tennessee State Senator Frank Niceley put it on Twitter, ‘Mitt Romney has always been there when he needs you. The American people sensed that and he lost.’

Even Mitt Romney’s niece, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, took pointed issue with her uncle. ‘POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7,’ she wrote. ‘For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as [his] first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive.’

Ms McDaniel touches on two important points. First, no president in history has faced the vicious and unremitting hostility from the press and the establishment bureaucracy that Donald Trump has. The press and the elites hated and reviled Richard Nixon; they abominated Reagan (until, that is, he was safely out of office); they loathed George W. Bush. But the ferocity and monolithic nature of the attacks against Donald Trump puts all earlier attacks in the shade. What started as contemptuous mockery when Trump announced his candidacy turned into savage, round-the-clock denunciation when he was elected.

I thought the extreme rhetoric would have subsided by now, but it hasn’t. It is always cruel to quote Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson — the poor man has long been a laughing stock, as anyone who utters the word ‘Guam’ well knows — but his New Year’s speech comparing Donald Trump and a certain mustache-wearing Austrian corporal from the 1930s reminds us of just how insane, and how ingrained, anti-Trump hysteria is. ‘Much like how [sic] Hitler took over the Nazi party,’ the pathetic Georgia congressman said Tuesday, ‘Trump has taken over the Republican Party.’

Mitt Romney thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the ‘mantle’ of the presidency. But that mantle has been denied to Trump by an establishment that refuses to countenance his legitimacy and, moreover, by implication refuses to countenance the legitimacy of those who elected him.

Ms McDaniel’s second important point flows from the word ‘unproductive.’ Mitt Romney’s diatribe against the President is unproductive because it is just rhetoric, ‘sound and fury,’ as that unhappy Scot lamented, ‘signifying nothing.’

According to Romney, ‘Trump’s words and actions have caused dismay around the world.’ Even if true, is that necessarily a bad thing? Would causing Jean-Claude Juncker or Angela Merkel ‘dismay’ be a bad thing? How about the mullahs in Iran?

In fact, Donald Trump has won many friends around the world with a foreign policy that is more clear-eyed and forthright than we have enjoyed since at least the days of Ronald Reagan. If he has also discomfited some, that comes with the territory. It is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Which brings me back to that Competitive Enterprise Report about the President’s historic success with respect to taming the growth of the regulatory state.

Donald Trump campaigned and was elected on rolling back the regulatory state. He has made a good start on that Herculean project. He campaigned and was elected on taming illegal immigration. He is hard at work attempting to achieve that. He campaigned and was elected on cutting taxes. He managed that last year. He campaigned and was elected on rolling back political correctness. He has done that through Betsy DeVos’s department of education and in other ways. He campaigned and was elected on populating the judiciary with judges who were Constitutionalists after the pattern of Antonin Scalia. He has made astonishing progress in doing just that. He campaigned and was elected on rebuilding the United States military and, with a military budget of some $716 billion, he is well on the way to accomplishing that. He campaigned and was elected on making America energy independent. We are now the world’s largest energy producer. He campaigned and was elected on helping black and hispanic minorities, who now enjoy the lowest unemployment in history. He campaigned and was elected on a promise to challenge the spread of radical Islamic terrorism. During his first year in office, he obliterated ISIS as a fighting force. He campaigned and was elected on challenging North Korea’s nuclear program and has made historic progress on that front. He campaigned and was elected on reversing China’s unfair trade practices and expansionist policies. He has made significant progress on that front as well. He campaigned and was elected on moving our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. He did it.

Mitt Romney thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the ‘mantle of the office.’ I’d say, on the contrary, that he has lifted the bar and then vaulted over it.

I voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Doubtless he is a nice man. Possibly, Donald Trump is not as nice. But he won in 2016, as Mitt Romney failed to do in 2012. And his tenure has been a litany of achievement in the light of which Mitt Romney’s complaints appear not just churlish and beside the point but slightly rancid and pathetic, not unlike the establishment he embodies.


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