Mitt Romney has spent the past 25 years repositioning himself politically, so it was no surprise that he took to the Washington Post ahead of his swearing in as Utah Senator to signal that — at least for now — he wants to be known as an independent-minded Republican critic of President Trump.
As somebody with no ideological core, dating back to his 1994 Senate race, Romney has described himself as everything from an “independent during Reagan-Bush” to “severely conservative.” He went from welcoming Trump’s endorsement during his 2012 presidential race, to calling Trump a “phony” in 2016, only to go on to cozy up to him in pursuit of the Secretary of State job later that year, and eventually to once again welcome Trump’s endorsement in his Senate race. And now, he wants to be known again as a blistering critic.
As a long-time critic of Trump myself (ironically, one of my first public critiques of Trump came when Romney embraced him in 2012), I can certainly relate to many of the complaints Romney has in his op-ed. I, too, have criticized Trump’s rhetoric, his softness in speaking about totalitarian rulers, and the dangers to conservatism posed by his flouting of norms.
But there are a few parts of Romney’s op-ed where he really lost me.