Harold Hutchison / April 23, 2019

How Romney and Trump Were Both Right

Romney’s right about Founding principles, while Trump is correct about the need to fight.

The latest dust-up between President Donald Trump and Senator Mitt Romney is typical of the divide between the MAGA and establishment wings of both the Republican Party and the conservative movement. What makes this fight so difficult is that both sides have some valid points.

For all the grief he got for his reaction to Robert Mueller’s report over this past weekend, Romney is accurate when he says that the country has strayed far from the aspirations and principles of the Founders. Certainly, we at The Patriot Post believe they would be appalled by the expansion of the size and scope of the federal government and in particular at the constant assault on the First and Second Amendments. In that part of his statement at least, Mitt Romney is 100% correct.

But Trump retaliated with a tweet pointing out something else that was quite obvious: If Mitt Romney had fought Barack Obama’s flawed policies in 2008 or 2012 with the same fire he has shown against Trump’s character flaws today, he’d likely have been president in either election — and the country would be much better off.

Back in January, we noted with great disappointment that Romney took some shots at Trump over his character flaws, including womanizing. Well, those have been known by anyone who has followed celebrity gossip for the last 35 years. Americans factored those in when they voted in 2016 and will do so again in 2020. In 2016, enough Americans supported Trump in enough states to give him the presidency.

But here’s what Romney doesn’t seem to understand: Had he beaten Obama in either 2008 or 2012, the same Resistance that has cropped up to President Trump would have arisen against him. It might not have been a bunch of women claiming affairs (given Romney’s character, such claims would have been laughable), but you can bet they would have found something to attack, possibly his religious faith.

Furthermore, there would still be a “Resistance” out there, but this one would have declared him racist, with the defeat of the first black president serving as prima facie evidence of racism. We’d see the same sort of actions as well. And the same treatment would have been in store for John McCain had he won in 2008.

John McCain and Mitt Romney were/are good men and patriots. The problem was, neither cared to punch back against the Left’s lies. Both overestimated the fairness of the press and their political opposition despite decades of evidence to the contrary and assumed they could reach across the aisle.

Worse, both of them failed conservatives who swallowed their disappointment to back them as the nominees in 2008 and 2012. Romney in particular did not speak up about the IRS targeting the Tea Party, or Operation Choke Point, or other abuses of power by the Obama administration. Nor did they speak up when Second Amendment supporters were smeared as domestic terrorists or when California tried to force pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, among other incidents. Even now, with Andrew Cuomo acting like Venezuela’s Maduro or Turkey’s Erdogan and prosecutors targeting press outlets over editorial decisions, Romney has been silent when he should be objecting.

Mitt Romney is at least aware of how far we’ve strayed from the aspirations and principles that underlie the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. His big problem is that he and others haven’t learned the lessons of 2016 and don’t seem to realize that we are at a point where it will be a hard fight to merely get into a position where it can be possible to bring the government back in line with those principles.

We can be critical of Trump’s character flaws while at the same time recognizing his pugnaciousness is achieving results. It is lamentable that we have had to make the choice between character and an effective tactician, but that was where 2016 left us. Given what has gone on since then, it’s likely we face the same choice in 2020.

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