I happen to be one of those despicable people who agrees with a lot of what Mitt Romney wrote in a scathing op-ed about Donald Trump on New Year’s Day.

It is, of course, important to remember the difference between Trump The Man and Trump The Administration. Trump The Administration has done some good things, as Romney clearly points out at the beginning of his op-ed.

It is not that all of the president’s policies have been misguided. He was right to align U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors, to strip out excessive regulations, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to reform criminal justice and to appoint conservative judges. These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.

Going on to say that Trump The Man has poor character, Romney has drawn a lot of fire from Trump allies – and Trump himself – all of whom are repeating a rather curious claim that Romney did not stand up to Barack Obama like he is to Trump. Clearly, 2012 only happened in my head.*

The character of the President is important. To say otherwise is to ignore one of the primary complains about Bill Clinton in the 1990s. He was a foul, disgusting man who got away with as much as he did because of his party affiliation, and much of what he got away with is the same that Trump is accused of (and in some cases, confirmed).

However, the hypocrisy of the cult of personality isn’t the point here. The point is that Romney, in an otherwise stellar column, received an endorsement from the type of person that everyone is accusing him of being.

Poor Mitt. Can’t catch a break.

I will be very much let down if Romney does end up in some weird alliance with Kasich ahead of 2020. Kasich’s already-doomed opposition run against Trump doesn’t need any serious credibility that could be granted with a consideration from Romney or any other Trump-skeptical Republican. It deserves to die in a fire.

All of that said, this is the exact type of reaction we all knew Romney was going to get. The #Resistance types (Republican and some Democrat) are praising this op-ed as an act of courage. But, more than a #Resistance type Republican, Romney is one of the party’s elder statesmen, having run as a Republican candidate for president. He has considerable sway over some elements of the party, and he is signaling to them that he is playing the long game here.

Kasich is not playing the long game. He is playing the 2020 game. Romney realizes that there will be a Republican Party after Trump, and that there has to be some sort of return to sanity. Is Romney the man to return it to such?

Probably not, given his less-than-stellar conservative bonafides.

But, he can signal to others who are capable that there is no shame in playing the long game here. That ends up being the difference between him and Kasich, a man I thoroughly and openly despise. Romney has a plan, and he has a vision that is for the larger party. You can say the GOP was or is broken beyond repair, and to an extent I would agree with you. However, there are men and women who disagree and would happily work toward something better.

Good on them for wanting to do so. Just please, folks, don’t let John Kasich anywhere near it.

 

*Granted, was Romney a spirited conservative in 2012? Of course not. But to say he didn’t challenge Obama is an absurd, revisionist claim fit for the ignorant. Then again, if Romney were a spirited conservative in 2012, it would not mean much now as Trump fanatics would still be attacking him as a liberal in Republican clothing.