FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 file photo, Donald Trump greets Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, after announcing his endorsement of Romney during a news conference in Las Vegas. Trump is endorsing Romney in Utah’s Senate race, another sign that the two Republicans are burying the hatchet after a fraught relationship. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
President Trump tweeted out a political ad targeting Senator Mitt Romney (? – Utah) yesterday. The ad depicts Romney as a slippery Republican poser and Never-Trump infiltrator:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
The ad comes one day after Romney voted to convict President Trump on the charge of “abuse of power” in the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Romney’s vote drew much criticism from conservatives and encomiums from celebrity liberal activists:
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) February 5, 2020
A lot of respect for Mitt Romney following his conscience and doing what he feels is right. One vote that will mean a lot to many. https://t.co/YQ1b35xVIJ
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) February 5, 2020
— ROSIE (@Rosie) February 5, 2020
Former Utah Governor John Huntsman once summed up Romney as “a perfectly lubricated weather vane on the important issues of the day.”
Romney has flip-flopped on his relationship with President Trump several times over the years–even gunning for the post of Secretary of State in the Trump Administration, before coming out as a (semi)reliable dissenting voice against the president’s policies and actions.
But Romney’s latest flop is one he cannot flip back. He must know his vote to convict will permanently alienate him from millions of conservatives, many of whom see Romney’s move as a full-throated endorsement of the Democrats’ efforts to undo the 2016 election by legislative fiat.
The calls to turf out Romney from the Republican Party cannot have shocked anyone in the Romney camp. All signs point to Romney switching parties to join the Democrats–where many conservatives have argued he belongs.
But how will Romney find his new home on the left?
No doubt Romney will find winning reelection in Utah as a Democrat tricky. Utah Republicans will see Romney as the reincarnation of Benedict Arnold and vote for a Republican potted plant before crossing over to vote for a Democrat Romney. For their part, Democrats will view his Johnny-come-lately act with suspicion.
Sure, liberal Twitter-vists may extoll Romney’s honor and virtue today, since in doing so they prop up the man who lent his last nickel of legitimacy to their failed three-year harassment campaign against the president.
But what happens when Romney faces a Democratic primary opponent with a track record of undeviating support for liberal activism and the proper identity credentials?
No doubt O’Donnell, Milano, Stiller, and the rest will command Romney to step aside and give his Senate seat to the trans immigrant woman of color who really deserves the Senate seat in this historically racist, deplorable country.
At that point, The Great Conscience will become just another privileged white man who must jump in the dumpster of history, or get thrown in:
“Thanks for your months of faithful service, Mitt! Here’s your 100% recycled certificate of appreciation. Buh bye.”
Given his dismal prospects in either party, perhaps Romney’s movements are those of a politician with nothing left to lose. Romney may be thinking nothing more than: “If I am going down, I’m taking a piece of that orange interloper with me.”
We may be witnessing Romney’s Thelma and Louise moment, as he jumps from the right side of the canyon to the left and lands in a crumpled, flaming heap.
Romney may have decided that depriving the president of the Romney miasma of honored virtue–which Romney seems to very much admire in himself–will hurt the president and the party that refused to allow Romney his rightful shot at losing a third presidential election in 2016.
But spite has a way of backfiring. Rather than dividing conservatives, Romney’s antics seem to be consolidating them and clarifying their resolve.
Conservatives struggle around many issues these days, not least their feelings about the president’s unusual style. But Romney has helped conservatives to settle one dilemma with finality:
“What we are NOT is the party of flip-flopping, pseudonym-tweeting, election-losing, witch-hunt-enabling, suicide-seeking traitors.”