Romney: Why the GOP is so angry
“Thank you, Mitt Romney,” said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. In defying his party by casting the sole Republican vote against acquittal in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Romney “stood up for the role of individual conscience in our political life.” Every other Senate Republican put expedience above principle, knowing that bucking Trump would invite the fury and threats now being rained down on Romney. For conservatives like me, who still believe in public integrity and individual conscience, his act of resistance had great meaning. “Here, finally, was a Republican senator willing to stand up to Trump’s tactics of intimidation and bullying.” Romney’s lonely vote was deeply embarrassing to Trump’s defenders, said Josh Marshall in TalkingPointsMemo.com. Republican unanimity has “a profound, opinion-shaping, normalizing effect.” With his principled stand, Romney exposed his colleagues as cowards hiding behind tortured rationalizations.
Are we talking about the same Mitt Romney? asked Christopher Barron in The Washington Examiner. “To pretend that Mitt Romney is motivated by principle is to ignore the entirety of his political career.” A hack who’s “been on every side of almost every issue of consequence,” from gun control to abortion to gay rights, Romney is clearly guided by “political opportunity and public opinion,” not conscience. “Let’s be clear about exactly what happened here,” said David Marcus in TheFederalist.com. Romney’s maneuver makes him “the crown prince” of the Never Trumpers—a “backward-looking group” of old-guard, elitist Republicans who want to return to some “tired neoliberal globalism.” With his vote, “Romney just made himself the most popular politician in the tiniest constituency in America.”
If Romney is so insignificant, asked Peter Wehner in TheAtlantic.com, why are Republicans so furious at him? Most of them know in their hearts that Trump crossed “a once unthinkable moral and ethical red line” in using taxpayer funds to pressure Ukraine into helping him in the 2020 election. Romney’s integrity and courage in putting “country before party” shames them. But Romney’s “extraordinary act” gives those on the Left something to think about as well. Democrats who delighted in vilifying Romney as a heartless plutocrat and wooden weirdo during his 2012 presidential campaign might ask themselves if they underestimated him, and if they “allowed their partisanship to overwhelm their sense of decency.” ■