It’s not merely that Romney has chosen to soft-pedal his criticism of both candidate and President Trump. It’s not merely that being Sir Respectful will mean nothing if it doesn’t translate into genuine, active, and aggressive congressional oversight of an executive branch that is rife with corruption and self-dealing. The problem is in the way that Romney is framing his exemplary opposition: Conservatism — his conservatism — is the antidote, and Trumpism is the poison.

This is wrong.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Trump presidency, it’s that Establishment Conservatism Inc. functions just fine with Trumpism in its veins. Here’s an alternative metaphor: Trumpism is the fuel. Establishment Conservatism is its exhaust fumes.