Romney to Trump on Charlottesville: Apologize

Romney to Trump on Charlottesville: Apologize

We all knew the brief Trump/Romney romance would end in heartbreak and recriminations. The only questions were when, and why.

Dude, I think he’s running.

In homes across the nation, children are asking their parents what this means. Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?

The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.

He’s had three bites at the apple already, Mitt, two of which made things worse. He’s not apologizing. I honestly think he’d rather see his cabinet resign than admit that he handled the aftermath of what happened in Charlottesville badly. Which makes me wonder: If Romney had ended up with the Secretary of State job, would he have quit this week in protest? Or would he be stuck in the same place Mattis, McMaster, Kelly and others probably are, not wanting to stick around to see how much worse things can get but feeling duty-bound to do their best to keep the ship of state afloat? I suspect Secretary of State Mitt would gulp and keep his mouth shut. But that’s probably one of the reasons he’s privately happy he didn’t get the job. Inevitably there’d be a moment like this. if Romney were on the Trump train, he’d have to grin and bear it along with everyone else aboard.

Two criticisms. A demand for an apology from Trump would go down smoother if Romney nodded to his own role in making Trump a player in GOP party politics by accepting his endorsement in 2012. That was the path of least resistance at the time. Romney was shrewd enough to see that Trump, even then, had a big enough media megaphone on the right that he could make trouble for him among Republican populists if Romney snubbed him. But that endorsement also came after a year of Trump pushing Birtherism. He is now who he was then and Mitt didn’t have a problem with it (or not enough of a problem with it) when he stood to benefit from it personally. You could say something similar about his detente with Trump after the election, when the State job was being dangled, but I think circumstances had changed by then. Romney may have hoped that the awesome responsibility of the presidency would sober Trump up, and he may have seen the possibility of joining the administration as a way to personally check Trump’s worst impulses. If you want to kill him for contemplating working for Trump after years of Birther stuff and last year’s campaign, you have to kill Mattis, Kelly, and the rest too.

The other point is that he needs to get away from the idea that the Nazis were the only ones being violent last weekend. It’s simply incorrect, and the more he stresses it the more he’s going to be dismissed as an unwitting apologist for Antifa. Trump’s main failing on Saturday wasn’t the celebrated comment about violence on “many sides,” which was tone-deaf after a white supremacist had just killed a woman by ramming her with his car but not factually inaccurate. His failing was not going much further to specifically condemn the alt-righters given their special affinity for him personally and the country’s history of racial oppression. There were, I’m sure, some “very fine people” who came out to protest the Nazis last weekend mixed in with the Antifa droogs who wanted to rumble. Not so much on the other side, yet Trump drew no distinction. That’s what Romney should focus on, not unsupportable assertions about one group bearing sole responsibility for all violence.

Anyway. Now we wait for Trump to call him a “loser” on Twitter. Stand by for updates.

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