Interesting thought from our Townhall cousin Guy Benson. Romney’s the guy you call when you need a manager to rescue a failing enterprise, whether that’s a business or the Winter Olympics. Well, which federal agency is failing as badly as the VA?
Romney never wore the uniform, which may be perceived by some to be a strike against him for this position. But if you’re a veteran in need of healthcare, which is more important to you? Having a fellow vet running the cabinet agency, or having that scandal-plagued cabinet agency actually fixed? Ever since the VA scandal exploded onto front pages and outraged American voters (even as some leading Democrats sought to downplay it), politicians have burned through a lot of words talking about the issue. They’ve also burned through a lot more taxpayer money, even though funding was never the root problem; maddeningly, entrenched flaws and rampant unaccountability still persist. It’s a national disgrace.
To his credit, Donald Trump made improved treatment of our veterans a centerpiece theme of his campaign since day one. The VA is a big, bloated, dysfunctional entity that is failing far too many people in very damaging ways. Mitt Romney is a widely-renowned turnaround artist whose calling card is hyper-competence. He’s a patriot and a gifted, savvy technocrat who fixes things. This has been true of the businesses he rescued, as well as his extraordinary work saving the 2002 Winter Olympics. Because of its enduring failings, the VA doesn’t simply need to be run or presided over by someone. It needs root-and-branch reform and repair through excellent, focused management.
Would Romney accept that job if Trump laid it on the table? My late friend Dean Barnett, who knew him personally, always told me that Romney was a sincere patriot driven by a sense of public duty. If Trump put him on the spot by asking if he’d help him improve health care for veterans, he might not be able to say no. But, given their history, he’d probably want to say no:
While Romney hasn’t commented on the invite, people close to him say he still regards Trump with deep suspicion, even after congratulating him on his election and wishing him success. Amid reports from NBC and CNN that Romney is on the long list of names Trump is considering for secretary of state—something Team Trump would not confirm to Yahoo News–allies of the former Massachusetts governor said they would be surprised if Trump really made the offer and even more surprised if Romney took it, or any job in the administration at all.
“Mitt is a statesman who loves his country,” a longtime Romney adviser who declined to be named discussing the ex-governor said. “(But) he knows Trump. He knows how Trump is. Who knows if this (outreach) is genuine or just another publicity stunt?”
Yeah, that’s the flaw in Guy’s reasoning, I think. Trump inviting him to meet is almost certainly a publicity stunt. It’s a smart publicity stunt, like I said yesterday, because it’s an olive branch to a strident critic from the anti-Trump wing of the party. Trump’s earning some goodwill from his skeptics on the right with these gestures. But increasingly I think all of the A-list names floated for positions this week — Romney, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, David Petraeus — are people whom Trump has no real intention of appointing but whom he wants credit for considering. And I’m sure it tickles his ego to see his vanquished enemies feeling obliged to pick up and travel cross-country to meet with him at his request even though the entire Trump inner circle knows they’re not going to be offered any jobs. I’m sure Romney and Haley know it too, but if they had rejected Trump’s invitation, they’d be the ones seen as petty and vindictive rather than the president-elect. They have to go, if only to keep up appearances of comity. It’d take a mighty gullible, hyper-ambitious rube to believe that an egotist like Trump would reward harsh criticism during the campaign with a top cabinet position. Errrrrrrr:
I sure hope that story’s untrue for poor Ted’s sake. After months of him being humiliated by Trump, the thought of one last Lucy-yanks-away-the-football flourish on AG as Trump prepares to take power is too much to bear.
So, no, there’ll be no Secretary of State Romney or VA Secretary Romney. (Secretary of State has already been quietly promised to loyalist Rudy Giuliani, I’m sure.) But them’s the breaks in politics. To the victors go the spoils. Via the Daily Signal, here’s Romney briefly discussing his ideas for VA reform in 2014. Exit question: Would Trump really want to share credit with Mitt Romney, of all people, in the big turnaround project in veterans’ health?