On May 28, 2016 – during the 2016 presidential campaign – I posted this blog about Mitt Romney.
I was obviously intent on praising Romney for saying straight out that if Donald Trump ever became president “he will be a danger to us all.” But I was equally obviously intent on insisting that Romney was not going nearly far enough. That instead of leading, he was choosing not to. Fact is that while he did on occasion speak out against Trump, Romney never did anything more. He never even tried to mount a loyal opposition to the candidate he charged was a real and present danger to the nation.
During Trump’s now nearly two years in the White House, this pattern has continued. Mitt Romney has been, more than he has been anything else, a Bystander. This despite the fact that while Romney has been a lifelong boy scout, something of a secular saint, Trump has been a lifelong bad boy, something of a secular sinner. And, this despite the fact that on Russia particularly, Romney famously has been at the one end of the spectrum, deeply suspicious of Russia; while Trump famously has been at the other, curiously solicitous of Russia.
Now Romney has resurfaced. He has reentered the political arena – beginning tomorrow he will be freshman senator from Utah – and chosen again to speak out against his obvious nemesis. In a scathing editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post Romney wrote this, “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
So here are my questions. Will Romney be as effete and ineffectual in his opposition to Trump as he has been up to now? Or has something changed? Will Romney finally tread where others have feared to? Will he finally emerge as a vigorous leader – or stay stuck as timorous follower?