The occasion for Tucker Carlson’s trenchant insights was Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s Washington Post op-ed, in which the failed presidential candidate excoriated President Trump not on substantive policy disagreements, but because the president is a big meanie.
I’m a bit late to the party on this topic, but most of the commentary I’ve read is consistent with my own thoughts: that Romney is clinging to a vanishing, ostensibly more decorous, vestige of the (thankfully) dying neocon cell within the Republican Party. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich probably offers the best analysis of (and advice for) the freshman senator. It seems that Mitt is prepping for a Kasich-style 2020 primary challenge.
When Romney ran in 2012, I was hopeful. I’d voted for Newtie in the SC presidential primaries, and was sad to see him flame out. While I was lukewarm on Senator Rick Santorum, I was hoping he’d pull out a late victory just so we could avoid another Establishment type.
But when Romney won the nomination, I was cautiously optimistic, and his first debate performance against President Barack Obama was masterful, tenacious, and aggressive—the qualities that ultimately won the presidency in 2016. But the love of losing is strong among neocons, and decorum and tact got in the way (not to mention the lackluster response from evangelical Christians to a Mormon candidate—talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater).
Now, Romney is characteristically backstabbing his president and his party for personal gain. Fellow blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire lived in Massachusetts during Romney’s tenure as governor, and describes Romney as “useless.” I highly recommend you check out his piece “Mitt Romney is the New John McCain” for some excellent, succinct analysis regarding Romney’s penchant for flip-floppery. (You can also read some of my music reviews there, too!)
All of that is introduction to the meat of this post: Romney comes by his perfidious, shape-shifting nature honestly. Indeed, it seems he inherited or learned it from his dad, former Michigan Governor and original RINO George Romney.
Over the past year, I’ve been intermittently dipping in and out of Pat Buchanan’s excellent first-hand account of Richard Nixon’s remarkable political revival in the 1960s. The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority details the ins-and-outs of Nixon’s unlikely, brilliant rise to the presidency.
Recall that Nixon was considered politically D.O.A. after his twin defeats in the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Given those defeats—and Nixon’s own self-defeating announcement that “You [the press] don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference”—every mainstream media pundit was convinced the old Red Hunter and former Vice President was done.
In reading this book, a central figure in the Republican Party was George Romney, one of Nixon’s three potential rivals for the nomination in 1968 (the other two being liberal Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and grassroots conservative Republican Governor Ronald Reagan of California, the latter of which reached a detente of sorts with Nixon, biding his time for a future successful run of his own). Throughout the book, Buchanan details Romney the Elder’s shifting positions on the hot-button issues of the 1960s.
Of the many examples Buchanan provides, one of the most representative is in a section entitled “The Great Brainwashing” (pages 131-133 in the 2014 hardcover edition). Buchanan writes that by “the summer of ’67, Governor Romney, who in 1965 had come back from Vietnam to laud the war effort, was moving toward opposition to the war.” When Lou Gordon asked Romney about the shift in his position in a taped television interview, Romney responded that he “had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Vietnam. Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job.”
Not only had Romney flip-flopped on the Vietnam War (presumably in an effort to capitalize politically on anti-war sentiment in the country), he’d stumbled into a gaffe. The claim of “brainwashing” was bizarre, but it also threw the entire US military leadership under the bus.
Further, the “brainwashing” claim seemed to be a rhetorical sop to the hard-Left elements that dominated the anti-war movement. Such an assertion fit in neatly with their view that the establishment was acting in bad faith.
Buchanan details the political toll:
“The first polls after the ‘brainwashing’ episode were devastating, deepening a decline that had already begun. Since 1966, among Republicans, Romney had been running the strongest against [President Lyndon B.] Johnson. Now, in the new Harris survey, he had fallen to fourth, behind Rockefeller, Nixon, and Reagan. Romney had fallen from 4 points behind the President to a 16-point deficit. In a Gallup poll of September 23, only 14 percent of Republicans wanted Romney as their nominee, a 10-point drop in three weeks.” (The Greatest Comeback, 133)
It would seem George Romney’s son is committing the same form of political suicide, similarly attempting to curry favor with the mainstream media and the Left in some oddball attempt to gain respectability.
The MSM will play ball—for a time. Mitt will get some accolades and cheers from the “centrist” Left and the Jonah Goldbergites of the dwindling Never Trump/Weekly Standard (ding, dong, the witch is dead!) crowd, the latter of which will crow over Romney’s superior “character” and “decorum.” But should he ever succeed electorally on the national level again, the knives will come out, and wedge themselves deeply into his back.
Such is the fate of traitors: he who lives by the back-stab, dies by the back-stab. It’s a shame Romney the Younger didn’t learn this lesson from his father’s hubristic, doomed career.