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September 14, 2023 02:33 PM UTC

A Few Words on The Partial Redemption of Mitt Romney

  • by: Colorado Pols
Mitt Romney, seen here kissing the ring of Donald Trump in 2016 in a failed bid to become Secretary of State.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who came to be loved more by Democrats than his own party after turning vociferously against Donald Trump’s supervillain presidency, will not run for re-election in 2024:

Romney, elected to the Senate in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote, said he will serve out the duration of his term, which ends in January 2025. His decision not to seek reelection next year is likely to mark the end of a political career that has been notable, especially in the Trump era, for independence and a willingness to stand up against the base of his party that has shifted dramatically in Trump’s direction in the decade since Romney was its standard-bearer.

From the time Trump first became a candidate until today, Romney has been among his most outspoken critics, and nothing about his departure is expected to change that. In the weeks before Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Romney publicly acquiesced, expressing hope for the president-elect’s leadership while he was under consideration to be secretary of state. But his turnabout was short-lived…

Democrats who learned to revile Mitt Romney during his meanspirited run for president in 2012 against Barack Obama were forced to re-evaluate their blanket disdain as Romney became one of Trump’s most intractable and effective Republican critics. Romney’s vote to convict Trump during Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 was an incredibly gutsy move that helped affirm the legitimacy of the whole effort. In 2021, Romney was joined by six other Republicans voting to convict Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection.

On a policy level, however, there’s much less praise to shower on Romney’s legacy. Romney was no help to Democrats in passing major priorities like the Inflation Reduction Act, and Romney voted for Amy Coney Barrett to solidify the new right-wing U.S. Supreme Court majority today wreaking havoc on decades of civil rights progress. Romney will always be remembered as the presidential candidate who in 2012 wrote off 47% of Americans “who are dependent on government,” flat-out saying “my job is not to worry about those people.”

Like former Rep. Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney’s sole redemption before the judgment of history is that he would not join Donald Trump’s cult of personality. This increasingly set Romney at odds with the prevalent direction of his party, and it’s likely that in Romney would have faced a spirited MAGA primary challenger–and based on that, Trump will of course claim victory. It’s ironic that Romney’s better angels only made themselves apparent after an even worse rich Republican ran for President.

For helping hold the line against Trump’s assault on American democracy, Mitt Romney gets his share of credit.

And whoever the voters of Utah elect next will probably make us miss Romney more.


9 thoughts on “A Few Words on The Partial Redemption of Mitt Romney

    1. Poor Seamus!

      Gail Collins at the NY Times cannot mention Mitt Romney w/out working that dog into whatever it is Collins has to say about Mittens.

    2. The truly horrifying part of that story is that it wasn't a case of gotcha journalism; "Mitt" volunteered it. Someone asked for an example of the can-do problem-solver mindset he claimed to have, and "Mitt" volunteered a story about torturing a dog for eight hours.

      What a fucking sociopath. We dodged quite the bullet back in 2012.

  1. Partial redemption????

    In today’s political world, I would give Romney more credit than that.

    Has he voted in (what I consider to be) the wrong way on many matter? Absolutely!

    And you mention amongst other things the Amy Coney Barrett nomination which did cement the hard right-wing tilt of the court for years to come. 

    I sort of liked the Mitt Romney who was the moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts. (I had hopes he would be another Bill Weld or Paul Celucci.)

    But then he decided that he wanted to be president, he shook the Etch-A-Sketch to reset himself ideologically, declared himself to be “severely conservative,” and decided he would make his name trying to contain same sex marriage to within the state boundaries of Massachusetts. Spoiler alert: his efforts were unsuccessful.

    John McCain correctly trashed him as a flip flopper, and genuine conservatives saw through Romney in 2008.

    In 2012 – for the last time – the GOP adhered to its time-honored tradition of giving its nomination to the guy who ran unsuccessfully in the previous election cycle. (Time honored going back to 1968.) Mitt’s 15 minutes of Warholian fame had arrived. Time to reset the Etch-A-Sketch. But alas, Romney came up short.

    What Romney’s nomination did was provide fuel for the smoldering fire that was growing within the GOP which sought to burn down the GOP establishment and the elite. We saw how that played out in 2016 where the hapless JEB! took on the role of Mitt Romney as leader of the party establishment and was quickly sent on his way.

    Still, in the twilight of his political career, Romney grew a pair and was willing to endure the trashing by the MAGA-donians in order to do what was right. 

    Was he an opportunist and a chameleon when it came to public policy positions?  Absolutely.

    Was he tethered to reality and facts?  Yes, which is more than can be said for the lunatics currently running the GOP.

    Will he be replaced by someone else willing to stand up to Trump? Probably not.

    1. Good summary and pretty much how I feel about him.  One more thing:  while he was open about his religion (LDS obviously), he didn't wear it piously or lyingly on his sleeve like so many of today's GOP.  Romney kept his faith mostly in the backseat to his politics, where it belonged.  

      But I do wonder, are any of his progeny (and there are many) likely to follow in his footsteps?  His dad was a pol, but I never hear of the current set of Ronettes venturing there.  

      I do think, once the GOP has vomited out Trump, there will be a big run on young conservative politicians vigorously denying MAGAtism.  A fresh-faced Romney or Cheney would be in a perfect position to cash in on that.  

      1. I agree with your take on his religion. In fact, I admired the way he handled that unlike some who quote the Story of the Two Corinthians.

        As for his sons, I think he has five but none have taken the plunge into politics. His mother ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1970. And, of course, his niece has turned into one of Donald Trump's biggest ass kissers.

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