Mitt Romney Is in Denial
In much the same way that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Mitt Romney regularly appears to offer himself as the elder statesman the United States needs to lead the nation out of troubled times. The failed 2012 GOP White House hopeful and current Utah Senator is it at again, this time on July 4th with an especially vapid Atlantic op-column titled, “America is in Denial.” But don’t let his pathetic both-siderism obscure the inescapable truth that it is Mitt Romney who is in denial. Despite his periodic efforts to rehabilitate himself, Romney will forever be remembered as a man who never missed an opportunity to be an opportunist.
Consider this predictably bland accusation from Milquetoast Mitt that constitutes his Independence Day attack. Bemoaning a laundry list of major problems left unsolved including climate change, inflation, the national debt, and Donald Trump’s 2020 election “denial,” Romney claims:
What accounts for the blithe dismissal of potentially cataclysmic threats? The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial…
A classic example of denial comes from Donald Trump: “I won in a landslide.” Perhaps this is a branch of the same delusion that leads people to feed money into slot machines: Because I really want to win, I believe that I will win.
But Romney’s misguided platitudes don’t end there/ Equating President Biden’s inability to break through the scorched-earth Republican obstruction of his agenda with Donald Trump’s failed January 6, 2021 coup attempt. Mitt moans that:
President Joe Biden is a genuinely good man, but he has yet been unable to break through our national malady of denial, deceit, and distrust. A return of Donald Trump would feed the sickness, probably rendering it incurable. Congress is particularly disappointing: Our elected officials put a finger in the wind more frequently than they show backbone against it.
Doubtless looking in the mirror as he typed the words, Senator Romney lamented, “I hope for a president who can rise above the din to unite us behind the truth.”
You want the truth, Senator Romney? You can’t handle the truth.
Truth, that is, like this. Before Donald Trump smashed the record for presidential lying, 2012 candidate Mitt Romney’s deceptions and gymnastic flip-flops became the stuff of legend. The ongoing series “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity” ultimately expanded to 41 installments.
Or consider his accusation that “the left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system.” The Left happens to be right. After all, in 2009 the Democratic House passed a cap-and-trade emissions bill that faced a certain filibuster at the hands of the Senate’s GOP minority. As Romney himself joked during his acceptance speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
President Trump reversed Barack Obama’s policies on vehicle fuel economy and coal plant emissions. When the Biden EPA began the process of undoing Trump’s greenhouse gas fiasco, GOP-led states and only last week won a dangerous victory at the Supreme Court. Central to Chief Justice John Robert’s assault on Congress’ ability to delegate authority to executive branch agencies were the three Trump SCOTUS appointees, all of whom had earned Senator Romney’s confirmation vote.
Speaking of the Supreme Court, on June 24, 2022 Senator Romney voiced his wholehearted support for Justice Samuel Alito’s shredding of five decades of abortion-related precedent in the Dobbs case:
The sanctity of human life is a foundational American principle, and the lives of our children—both born and unborn—deserve our protection. I support the Court’s decision, which means that laws regarding abortion will now rightfully be returned to the people and their elected representatives.
But before condemning countless American women to suffering and even death from illegal abortions, Mitt Romney was a pro-choice candidate for Senate and then Governor in Massachusetts. He and wife Ann didn’t merely write a check to Planned Parenthood. In his 1994 run against Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, Romney proclaimed voters would not see him waiver in defending reproductive rights because of the tragic death of a “dear family relative”:
I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.
Mitt Romney’s supposed commitment to deficit reduction is a fraud, too. He bashes Democrats for the expansion of the national debt despite the oceans of red ink in America’s budget tripling under Ronald Reagan and nearly doubling again under George W. Bush. For his part, President Donald Trump added $9 trillion in new debt in only four years after candidate Donald Trump promised to eliminate all of it “over a period of eight years.” A key contributor to the mushrooming Trump deficits was the $1.9 trillion 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill which enjoyed Romney’s enthusiastic backing.
In today’s thinly veiled paean to himself, Romney omitted one other important fact. As the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, he proposed a massive, $5 trillion tax cut windfall for the wealthy. But despite running mate Paul Ryan’s claim that the “bold” ticket would explain how they would help pay for that hemorrhage of red ink from the U.S. Treasury, the two Republicans never specified a single loophole or tax break they would eliminate. Mitt Romney even bragged that this cowardice was a feature, not a bug, of his tax plan.
So I haven't laid out all of the details about how we're going to deal with each deduction, so I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly it can't be scored, because those kinds of details will have to be worked out with Congress, and we have a wide array of options.
Keeping his options open extended to Mitt Romney’s relationship with Donald Trump, too. Romney may have voted to convict President Donald Trump in both of his Senate impeachment trials, but he didn’t shy away from the New York fraudster when it worked to his advantage. During his 2012 campaign for the White House, Governor Romney sought Trump’s endorsement and help with fundraising. Why?
You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me, and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.
One of Mitt’s “good people” was the Birther-in-Chief, Donald Trump. Mitt didn’t hesitate to borrow a page from Trump’s race-baiting Obama playbook, as he showed when he made this statement at a Michigan rally in August 2012:
“No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
But in early 2016, Mitt underwent a conversion as Trump seemed on a path to wrap up the GOP presidential nomination. Hoping to derail the Trump Train and offer himself as the Republicans’ white knight, Romney attacked The Donald for the same sins he himself had committed. Despite his own flip-flop on abortion, Romney lectured Meet the Press host Chuck Todd:
"You ought to ask him, 'Donald, have you written a check to Planned Parenthood? If so, how much and when?' I mean, that's the question that Donald ought to answer."
Candidate Romney had staunchly refused to release his tax returns before yielding to public pressure. "I don't put out which tooth paste I use either. It's not that I have something to hide." But Romney continued keeping the details of his finances hidden. Romney even claimed that with his charitable donations to his own church his effective tax rate “is really closer to 45 or 50 percent.” Nevertheless, Romney in the spring of 2016 took to Twitter to blast Trump for doing the very same thing.
Of course, Republican primary voters didn’t reject Trump and rally to Mitt’s side with a “Draft Romney” movement. Donald Trump won his party’s nomination and then the general election that November. So, Mitt predictably ended his crusade against Trump and instead asked the President-elect to nominate him as his Secretary of State.
Nevertheless, the always opportunistic used the opportunity presented by America’s Independence Day to pretend that both parties are responsible for epidemic of deceit and denialism now dominating our politics. But the denialism over the “stolen” 2020 election, over COVID, over global climate change is the province of only one side, the Republicans. And the unprecedented obstructionism over the past decade-plus—the record use of the filibuster, the blockade of judicial and executive branch nominees, the theft of a Supreme Court seat, the myriad approaches to vote suppression—is the calling card of the GOP alone.
Mitt Romney knows all of this. But far from being a courageous public servant who levels with the American people, Romney instead hopes to breath life into his fading dream of being carried into the White House. As his wife Ann put it in 2002, “I truly want Mitt to fulfill his destiny, and for that to happen, he's got to do politics.” By the March 2012, Ann insisted, “This is now Mitt's time,” adding, “He's the only one who can save America."
But Mitt Romney wasn’t—and still isn’t—“the only one who can save America.” And as he revealed in the 2014 documentary Mitt, he knows it. "It really kills me," he said. "It really kills me." Instead, Romney is well aware of his fate, even if he is in denial about it:
"I have looked at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party...They become a loser for life," he said, holding finger and thumb in the shape of an "L" on his forehead.
And nothing about Mitt’s pathetic Independence Day delusion changes that.