Mitt Romney will be sworn in as the junior senator from Utah on Tuesday, 12 years after he finished his time as governor of Massachusetts and seven years and change after he lost to President Barack Obama. It’s also just over two years after Romney groveled to Donald Trump in hopes of being named secretary of state. But, entering the Senate, Romney is back to pretending he has meaningful morals and a spine, writing a Washington Post op-ed declaring that “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.”
Trump, predictably, swatted back, though with so little venom it seems likely that his tweet was written by an aide:
Why would Trump hope that Romney won’t follow in Jeff Flake’s footsteps? Flake never took even the slightest meaningful action until he was the lamest of lame ducks, caving repeatedly to Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as the media used his limp anti-Trump rhetoric to suggest that the Republican Party has a meaningful moral center rather than being the party of Trump and the party that created Trump. Donald Trump needs someone in that Jeff Flake role.
In any case, Romney carefully used his op-ed to inoculate himself from being a meaningful anti-Trump force, writing that “I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.” In short, he will vote as a loyal Republican 98 percent of the time and loudly expect credit for the other two percent, while emerging at carefully timed intervals to express his disappointment in Trump.