TBT: Romney’s Perfidy Runs in the Family

As a bit of a mea culpa for my positive post about Mitt Romney’s pro-natalism plan, I thought I’d atone by looking back to one of my better posts:  a detailed rundown of the Romney family’s long history of waffling on important issues, and attempting to play both sides of the political spectrum simultaneously.

Romney’s father, George Romney, was one of a (thankfully) dying breed:  the Rockefeller Republicans.  These “moderate” and liberal Republicans essentially were a paler echo of the postwar Democratic Party:  they espoused heavy spending, government intervention, and socially progressive policies, just in a more toned-down manner than their more overtly progressive colleagues in the opposing party.

In this post, I review Romney the Elder’s infamous “brainwashing” interview, in which he claimed his earlier pro-Vietnam War position was due to a thorough “brainwashing” by the United States military.  It was a politically catastrophic and bizarre statement, and one that demonstrated yet another of Romney’s shifting positions to fit with the tenor and fashions of the time.

And so it continues with Romney the Younger, who voted this week to proceed with the farcical impeachment trial against a man who is no longer holding office.  Romney will yet again bask in temporary accolades for his “courage” and “bipartisanship” in the press, before they return to reviling him for being a Republican.

At this point, why can’t these Republican squishes—Romney, Murkowski, Collin, et. al.—just show their true colors and join the Democratic Party?

But I digress.  Here is 6 January 2019’s “Romney’s Perfidy Runs in the Family“:

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Romney Gets One Right

Okay, okay—before you start pelting me with the citrus fruit of your choice, let me make it clear:  I have no love for Mitt Romney.  I think he’s a traitorous, chimerical liar whose positions bend and twist with the ever-changing fashions of the Left.  He strikes me as a coward and opportunist, who will gladly slit his own party’s throat for a farthing of accolades from Democrats and the progressive press.

All that said, I’m intellectually honest enough to give credit where it is due, and even a stopped Mormon is right twice a day.  Mitt Romney has proposed a bill (forgive me for linking to the Never Trumpers at The Dispatch) that he argues is intended to alleviate childhood poverty, but is really a pro-natalist plan:  direct payments of $350 for children five and under, and $250 a month for children six through seventeen, with a maximum annual benefit of $15,000 annually, and payments beginning four months before a child’s birth.

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Election Season 2020: Iowa Caucuses

After all the anticipation, it’s finally here—the proper beginning of the 2020 presidential election.  The Iowa caucuses kick off tonight, and there’s no telling how it’s all going to shake out (although it looks like Bernie is on track to have a good night).

The Iowa caucuses work differently than the primaries in other States.  Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day today explains the process succinctly.  Essentially, if a candidate does not receive 15% of the votes at a precinct, his or her supporters must recast their votes for one of the remaining candidates.  That means that, while a candidate always wants to be a voter’s first choice, being the second choice can still work well.  It also makes it possible to see where support will go if a candidate drops out.

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TBT: Election Day 2018

Two days ago I wrote about Election Day 2019, and posted results yesterday.  In selecting this week’s #TBT, then, I thought I would look back to November 2018 to see what I’d cooked up.

Boy, were the pickings slim.  Other than the post below, I reblogged my annual Thanksgiving message, and posted a Veterans’ Day talk I delivered to the local Republican Party.  I’d really let the blog slide as I dove into another busy school year.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies.  Not only did losing the House “stymie” President Trump’s agenda; they’re straight-up impeaching him—their plan all along.  We managed to hold onto the Senate, but by a slimmer margin than I hoped.  I also don’t trust Mitt Romney for a minute, so I think we can slot him in with the Democrats.

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Lazy Sunday XXXIII: Virtue Signalling

Hard to believe that in sixty-four days, we’ll have reached one year of daily posts here at The Portly Politico.  In that time, I’ve done my fair share of exposing one of my least favorite activities:  self-righteous virtue-signalling.

So, what better way to signal my virtue in exposing virtue-signalling than by feature virtue-signalling for today’s Lazy Sunday?

Without further ado, here are my selfless, virtuous contributions:

  • Self-Righteous Virtue-Signalling Lives On” – This post looked an egregious National Review piece by Nicholas Frankovich in the wake of the Covington Catholic situation.  That seems like a distant memory now, but it was one of my battles in the never-ending culture wars.  The issue was that Frankovich, in his zeal to show to a Left that hates him that conservatives can gang up on themselves, threw innocent children under the bus.  Disgusting.
  • The Leftist Pantheon, Part I: Environmentalism” – This piece looked at Scandinavian eco-troll Greta Thunberg’s environmental apocalyptism.  Thunberg is the victim of environmental education indoctrination, in which everything we do is somehow destructive to Mother Gaia—one of the Left’s many neo-pagan gods and goddesses.
  • Tom Steyer’s Belt” – I love to rant about television commercials.  Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has a series of them he runs on Hulu, in which he’s wearing a ridiculous belt that makes him look like the old hippie he is.  This dumpy, stoop-shouldered elite tries to jazz up his look with some multiculturalism by wearing a Kenyan belt—sartorial signalling at its worst.
  • The Dirty Pierre” – Mitt Romney is the Establishment Republican King of Virtue-Signalling now that John McCain, the loathsome Arizona Senator and necromancer, is dead.  His “Pierre Delecto” Twitter account, which Romney used to defend himself against online detractors, rather than being a man and doing it as himself, is a despicable, cowardly example of a man who wants the Left to love him.  They never will, Mitt!

That’s it for this week!  It’s a muggy Sunday in South Carolina—typical Halloween weather for us.  D’oh!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

The Dirty Pierre

I’m on the mend, and am back at work today.  It’s pretty hectic being away for a couple of days:  I was immediately swarmed by young’uns this morning, asking about melodic intervals and the War of 1812.

If only I had a shadow Twitter account, from which I could give myself an emotional boost whenever I’m having a rough-and-tumble, post-recovery morning.

That’s my clumsy segue into today’s topic—Senator Mitt Romney’s latest pathetic act of perfidy, the Twitter account with the hysterical, outrageous nom de plumePierre Delecto.”

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TBT: Ted Cruz – Conservative Hero, or Traitor to His Party?

Given Mitt Romney’s perfidious WaPo op-edit seemed germane to look back to a seemingly forgotten moment from the 2016 Republican National Convention:  Ted Cruz’s convention speech in which he did not endorse (or, as I noted, not not-endorsed) nominee Donald Trump.  While Senator Cruz has become a steadfast supporter of President Trump’s agenda, at the time it was unclear where the conservative firebrand stood on Trump’s candidacy.

Cruz’s speech in 2016, however, was different in tone, tenor, and emphasis than Senator Romney’s traitorous op-ed.  Cruz fought a grueling series of primaries and caucuses against Trump.  Trump had insulted Cruz’s wife’s looks—a point Cruz made to a group of angry Texans who questioned why the Senator had not endorsed the candidate outright.  And Cruz largely aligned, in practice, with Trump’s policies, albeit in a more conventionally Conservative, Inc. way.

Romney, on the other hand, reeks of the kind of Jeff Flake/Bob Corker Republican who will undermine Trump’s agenda given the slightest chance, in exchange for the fleeting applause of the mainstream media.

Much of the analysis below assumed a stronger, more enduring Never Trump movement within the Republican Party, as well as a less successful Trump presidency.  Trump, fortunately, has exceeded expectations.  His successes on tax cuts, foreign policy, the judiciary, and elsewhere have taken the wind out of neocon sails, and energized the populist-nationalist conservative movement.

With that, here is my lengthy analysis of Senator Cruz’s fateful, mostly forgotten, speech:

On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in which he congratulated his primary opponent and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on his victory, then urged voters to “vote your conscience” in November.  Boos filled the arena.

What convention delegates were booing was not the admonition to vote their conscience–for many of them, that means voting for Donald Trump–but the lack of an explicit endorsement from Senator Cruz to endorse Trump.

Ted Cruz – not the Zodiac Killer, but almost in as much trouble.
(Image Source:  By Frank Fey (U.S. Senate Photographic Studio) – Office of Senator Ted Cruz, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25195114)

Immediately, two camps formed:  the majority pro-Trump camp, and the dwindling minority of Never Trumpers.  Within the former there are, broadly, two groups:  die-hard Trump fans, who have supported the candidate since last summer; and more tepid supporters who have given their support to Trump because they support their party’s nominee, they won’t support Hillary Clinton, they support elements of Trumpism, or some combination of the three.

The latter camp–I suspect–will continue to lose momentum now that the nomination process is complete.  Some of those voters will reluctantly vote for Trump for fear that a Clinton presidency will irrevocably shift the Supreme Court toward constitutional adaptavism and judicial activism.  Some will vote third-party, probably for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, or not vote at all.  A very small minority will vote for Clinton.

The kerfuffle highlights well the tensions inherent in party politics:  when does loyalty to party overcome adherence to principles, and vice-versa?

How these two groups have interpreted Cruz’s speech is predictable.  For the pro-Trump/party unity crowd, they see Cruz’s non-endorsement as a traitorous, duplicitous swipe at the nominee and his supporters, someone who went back on his word to endorse the winner of the primary process.

For the anti-Trump side, Cruz is a hero who stands on principle, even in the face of overwhelming pressure from his party to support explicitly the GOP nominee.  They argue that his pledge to support the candidate became null and void when the Trump campaign attacked Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and insinuated that his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

The kerfuffle highlights well the tensions inherent in party politics:  when does loyalty to party overcome adherence to principles, and vice-versa?  To what extent should a voter temper his principles for the sake of political advantage, expediency, or compromise?

These are difficult questions, and they did not start with the 2016 election cycle.  Movement conservatives were frustrated, for example, with the 2008 and 2012 GOP nominees.  They perceived Arizona Senator John McCain and Massachusetts Senator Mitt Romney, respectively, as being inconsistently conservative.  Some conservatives refused to vote for those candidates; many did.  Some voted for them enthusiastically, reasoning that their flaws were better than accepting the progressivism of President Barack Obama, or changing their thinking to align with the candidates.  Others did so more reluctantly.

***

(Full disclosure–and a disclaimer:  I voted for Senator Cruz in the 2016 South Carolina GOP primary.  The analysis to follow does not represent an endorsement or criticism of Senator Cruz’s speech or positions, but rather is an attempt–as fully as possible–at an objective analysis of the reasons for his position, and the consequences of it.  Angry advocates of both sides take note.)

So, which is it?  Is Ted Cruz a hero of the conservative movement, standing on principle at the expense of party unity?  Or is he an opportunistic traitor to the Republican Party?

It’s a tricky question, and both sides have merit.  The pro-Trump majority is broadly correct that, having committed to endorsing the ultimate nominee, Cruz should hold up that endorsement, as many other Republicans have done, if reluctantly.  Take, for example, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has endorsed Trump, but also been quick to criticize the nominee when his statement’s violated Ryan’s principles.

“…while Cruz didn’t outright endorse Trump, he didn’t not endorse him, either, and in no way maimed Trump.  If anything, he mostly hurt himself.”

On the other hand, Cruz in no way denigrated Donald Trump, or even suggested that voters should not vote for him.  Given in any other context, his speech would have received uproarious applause and plaudits from conservatives.  It did not explicitly fulfill his pledge to support the nominee, but it did not seek to criticize or harm the nominee overtly.

Lost in this debate–and in media coverage of the Cruz incident–was one of the best moments of party unity and statesmanship, which came when former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich started his speech by saying, essentially, that Senator Cruz had encouraged voters to vote their conscience for the candidate most likely to uphold the Constitution.  As Gingrich put it, the only viable candidate for president who would plausibly do so is Trump.

Some may object that Newt’s entreaty was a neat verbal trick, or point out the possibility of voting third-party (though Gary Johnson isn’t viable), but it demonstrated his ability to think on his feet and his skills at diplomacy.  He was able to restore some sense of decorum and unity to the proceedings.

In short, while Cruz didn’t outright endorse Trump, he didn’t not endorse him, either, and in no way maimed Trump.  If anything, he mostly hurt himself.

***
That gets to another question, one that I think is equally interesting:  what, if anything, did Cruz hope to gain from this speech?  Some will say it was free of any political motivation, but that seems unlikely.  Call me a cynic, but I think Cruz has his eye on the future.
I suspect–and, naturally, I could be very wrong–that Cruz is setting himself to win over the support of conservatives who either won’t vote for Trump, or will vote for him with deep misgivings.  He’s also looking for those voters who are becoming more enthusiastic about Trump, but have lingering feelings that they’ve had to talk themselves into liking the candidate a bit too much.  If anything goes majorly wrong in a Trump presidency, these voters may turn to Cruz in four or eight years.
Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins in November, Cruz will cast himself as the principled conservative who took a stand when the overwhelming force of his party’s opinion pressured him to do otherwise.  In the event of a Clinton victory, Cruz will attempt to win the GOP nomination in 2020.  In the event of a Trump victory, Cruz is betting on Trump making enough mistakes that enthusiasm for him sours, and in their hour of need, Republicans will say, “this was the man with the wisdom to resist.”  That’s a much tougher path, as it is extremely difficult to challenge successfully an incumbent president for his party’s nomination.
In both cases, it’s assuming an awful lot, and if the reaction at the Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night is any indication, Cruz miscalculated badly.  But politics is a fickle mistress, and the political scene could look very different in four years.
***
Will Cruz’s speech galvanize the dwindling Never Trump forces?  Or will he spur more conservatives to support the party as a rallying cry against him?  Will he be blamed for splitting the party if Clinton wins?  Or will his gambit pay off, with voters of some distant election year seeing in him a man of principle?
These are interesting questions; ultimately, they are for the voters to decide.

Romney’s Perfidy Runs in the Family

The occasion for Tucker Carlson’s trenchant insights was Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s Washington Post op-ed, in which the failed presidential candidate excoriated President Trump not on substantive policy disagreements, but because the president is a big meanie.

I’m a bit late to the party on this topic, but most of the commentary I’ve read is consistent with my own thoughts: that Romney is clinging to a vanishing, ostensibly more decorous, vestige of the (thankfully) dying neocon cell within the Republican Party. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich probably offers the best analysis of (and advice for) the freshman senator. It seems that Mitt is prepping for a Kasich-style 2020 primary challenge.

When Romney ran in 2012, I was hopeful. I’d voted for Newtie in the SC presidential primaries, and was sad to see him flame out. While I was lukewarm on Senator Rick Santorum, I was hoping he’d pull out a late victory just so we could avoid another Establishment type.

But when Romney won the nomination, I was cautiously optimistic, and his first debate performance against President Barack Obama was masterful, tenacious, and aggressive—the qualities that ultimately won the presidency in 2016. But the love of losing is strong among neocons, and decorum and tact got in the way (not to mention the lackluster response from evangelical Christians to a Mormon candidate—talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater).

Now, Romney is characteristically backstabbing his president and his party for personal gain. Fellow blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire lived in Massachusetts during Romney’s tenure as governor, and describes Romney as “useless.” I highly recommend you check out his piece “Mitt Romney is the New John McCain” for some excellent, succinct analysis regarding Romney’s penchant for flip-floppery. (You can also read some of my music reviews there, too!)

All of that is introduction to the meat of this post: Romney comes by his perfidious, shape-shifting nature honestly. Indeed, it seems he inherited or learned it from his dad, former Michigan Governor and original RINO George Romney.

Over the past year, I’ve been intermittently dipping in and out of Pat Buchanan’s excellent first-hand account of Richard Nixon’s remarkable political revival in the 1960s. The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority details the ins-and-outs of Nixon’s unlikely, brilliant rise to the presidency.

Recall that Nixon was considered politically D.O.A. after his twin defeats in the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Given those defeats—and Nixon’s own self-defeating announcement that “You [the press] don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference”—every mainstream media pundit was convinced the old Red Hunter and former Vice President was done.

In reading this book, a central figure in the Republican Party was George Romney, one of Nixon’s three potential rivals for the nomination in 1968 (the other two being liberal Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and grassroots conservative Republican Governor Ronald Reagan of California, the latter of which reached a detente of sorts with Nixon, biding his time for a future successful run of his own). Throughout the book, Buchanan details Romney the Elder’s shifting positions on the hot-button issues of the 1960s.

Of the many examples Buchanan provides, one of the most representative is in a section entitled “The Great Brainwashing” (pages 131-133 in the 2014 hardcover edition). Buchanan writes that by “the summer of ’67, Governor Romney, who in 1965 had come back from Vietnam to laud the war effort, was moving toward opposition to the war.” When Lou Gordon asked Romney about the shift in his position in a taped television interview, Romney responded that he “had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Vietnam. Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job.”

Not only had Romney flip-flopped on the Vietnam War (presumably in an effort to capitalize politically on anti-war sentiment in the country), he’d stumbled into a gaffe. The claim of “brainwashing” was bizarre, but it also threw the entire US military leadership under the bus.

Further, the “brainwashing” claim seemed to be a rhetorical sop to the hard-Left elements that dominated the anti-war movement. Such an assertion fit in neatly with their view that the establishment was acting in bad faith.

Buchanan details the political toll:

“The first polls after the ‘brainwashing’ episode were devastating, deepening a decline that had already begun. Since 1966, among Republicans, Romney had been running the strongest against [President Lyndon B.] Johnson. Now, in the new Harris survey, he had fallen to fourth, behind Rockefeller, Nixon, and Reagan. Romney had fallen from 4 points behind the President to a 16-point deficit. In a Gallup poll of September 23, only 14 percent of Republicans wanted Romney as their nominee, a 10-point drop in three weeks.” (The Greatest Comeback, 133)

It would seem George Romney’s son is committing the same form of political suicide, similarly attempting to curry favor with the mainstream media and the Left in some oddball attempt to gain respectability.

The MSM will play ball—for a time. Mitt will get some accolades and cheers from the “centrist” Left and the Jonah Goldbergites of the dwindling Never Trump/Weekly Standard (ding, dong, the witch is dead!) crowd, the latter of which will crow over Romney’s superior “character” and “decorum.” But should he ever succeed electorally on the national level again, the knives will come out, and wedge themselves deeply into his back.

Such is the fate of traitors: he who lives by the back-stab, dies by the back-stab. It’s a shame Romney the Younger didn’t learn this lesson from his father’s hubristic, doomed career.