Mitt Romney offered blistering criticism of President Trump in a statement posted to Twitter, writing, “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”
The message is that Trump is dishonest and lacks integrity, and therefore, by implication, Romney is “different.” This is the same guy who asked for Trump support in his presidential campaign and later called him “phony,” only to crawl back hoping to be Trump’s secretary of State. Romney’s peculiar definition of integrity is being a sleazeball who embodies toadying and backstabbing.
Romney’s post is a way of sating ambition. It is not about Trump, it is about Romney. He said, “I am appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained; that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement.”
In a failure of imagination, many pundits describe Romney as Jeff Flake on steroids. Yet, unlike Flake — who was just flaky — Romney comes with a destructive agenda.
Though Romney himself predicted last year that Trump would “easily” win re-election in 2020, it appears that Romney is planning to run for president in 2020 himself.
Unembarrassed by his previous statements calling Trump’s policies “effective,” criticizing Trump provides him with a platform to maintain visibility. CNN, MSNBC and other left-wing outfits would be happy to offer him a 24/7 platform to criticize the president.
Since Trump is advancing the solid pro-capitalism conservative agenda fulfilling his campaign promises, Romney’s critique is not substantive, but mostly cynical and all about the president’s style. Romney is not able to put forward a superior alternative based on substance. Intellectually, Romney is not near the level of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, or Newt Gingrich. Having no stake in policy development or implementation, he is using his position to claim that he could improve the outcome using “honesty and integrity” and to characterize any Trump accomplishment as inadequate.
His future campaign slogan, “I am Trump on substance but Romney on style,” may secure the support of some independents and those Republicans who still cannot forgive Trump for winning in 2016. They would be happier going back to the minority.
Conventional wisdom is that one has to win the primaries before running for office. But Romney does not plan to win by winning; he plans to win by losing. He has no illusions, especially after the release of Mueller’s report, that the imaginable is not achievable. After losing the primaries against Trump, he will run as an independent.
In the nightmarish sense of déjà vu, Romney could replay Ross Perot’s saga and get up to 10 percent of the vote in the general election, depriving Trump of the office by electing a Democrat. His ambition is to become a modern Herostratus, who earned notoriety by burning the Greek Temple of Artemis. By burning Trump’s chance at a second term, Romney is probably hoping to have his name written in the history books.
If nothing else, this is the lasting legacy Mitt Romney hopes to leave behind.
Alexander G. Markovsky (@AlexMarkovsky) is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a conservative think hosted at King’s College, New York City, which examines national security, energy, risk-analysis and other public policy issues, He is the author of “Anatomy of a Bolshevik” and “Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It.” He is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.