Arguably the most interesting politician in Washington right now. My read on him is that that impeachment vote he cast against Trump liberated him, to an extent maybe even he didn’t anticipate. I suspect that he did it believing it was the right thing to do but that Utahns would turn on him for it and that he’d serve out the rest of his term politically isolated. Trump seems to be under that impression too, tweeting this morning in response to the news of Romney joining the march, “Tremendous sincerity, what a guy. Hard to believe, with this kind of political talent, his numbers would ‘tank’ so badly in Utah!”
But that’s just it. To everyone’s surprise, Romney’s numbers haven’t tanked. He was at 56/42 there last week, better than Mike Lee. He’s the closest thing the GOP has to a true independent now, someone who can go his own way politically even at the risk of antagonizing Trump and not be assured of losing his seat over it. Last month he criticized the president (correctly) for purging multiple inspectors general across different federal agencies and he criticized the executive branch (correctly) for a terrible initial response on coronavirus testing. Result: 56/42.
So why shouldn’t he march to protest police brutality? Why not do what he thinks is right rather than what’s politically expedient going forward and let the chips fall where they may politically? If it turns out that he can’t get past a primary in Utah in 2024, he’ll have to somehow find fulfillment in retirement as a mega-rich man with an adoring family.
.@MittRomney is marching with a group of nearly 1,000 Christians to the White House. Here he is on video saying why he’s walking: “… to make sure that people understand that Black Lives Matter” https://t.co/KCxJNchCMs pic.twitter.com/Za0Am2WL8g
— Hannah Natanson (@hannah_natanson) June 7, 2020
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/JpXUFlxH2J
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 7, 2020
The other problem with Trump’s tweet is that Romney was showing “tremendous sincerity” in marching yesterday. He had no political reason to do it; if he had, there would have been other Republican pols marching with him. Trump can’t understand the gesture as sincere because it would never occur to him to demonstrate against police brutality or for civil rights. But Romney had shared his feelings a few days earlier on Twitter:
No Americans should fear enmity and harm from those sworn to protect us. The death of George Floyd must not be in vain: Our shock and outrage must grow into collective determination to extinguish forever such racist abuse.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 28, 2020
The George Floyd murder is abhorrent. Peaceful protests underscore the urgency of addressing injustices. But violence drowns the message of the protestors and mocks the principles of justice.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 31, 2020
This is my father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the Detroit suburbs during the late 1960s—“Force alone will not eliminate riots,” he said. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.” pic.twitter.com/SzrcAyfPD8
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 6, 2020
That last tweet is the most important one. Romney reveres his father, famous in his day as a Republican who showed solidarity with civil-rights activists. That’s an enduring part of George Romney’s legacy. It made sense that Mitt Romney would seize an opportunity to make it part of his legacy too.
Makes me wonder to what extent his vote is in play on police reform, specifically ending qualified immunity for police. The Supreme Court might take care of that on its own, although we’re likely months away from a decision even if they take the matter up. In the meantime, Justin Amash and various Democrats are pushing a bill to end QI in the House, with Pelosi’s support. Presumably it’ll arrive soonish in the Senate — where it’ll die, since Romney’s Republican colleagues are far more beholden to Trump than he is:
McEnany calls reducing qualified immunity for police officers a "non-starter" for Trump.
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) June 8, 2020
How many votes might the bill get, though? Romney? The libertarian-minded Mike Lee and Rand Paul, maybe? How much further on reform might Romney be willing to go than just ending QI? There’s nothing stopping him from voting his true preferences at this point.
Exit question: When does Biden finally apologize to him for the “put y’all back in chains” smear from years ago?