I don’t think I’m giving away the store to acknowledge that Mitt Romney was an abysmal presidential candidate in 2012. I voted for him and think he would have made a very good president (phenomenal, actually, relatively speaking). The problem was that he didn’t have the mettle for the race.
Folk wisdom says, “Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig loves it.” Well, the path to president is knee-high mud, gooey, gluey, sticky mud. If you aren’t prepared to get filthy several times over, don’t even toss your hat in the ring.
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Mitt Romney was just too decent to sling mud, and who would have thought that no skeletons in his closet would be a negative? Putting a dog emitting diarrhea and vomit in a crate on the roof of a car pales in comparison to adultery, substance abuse, or corruption. And, hey, I’ve done worse to my kids, and they weren’t even sick.
Another negative, it must be said, was/is his Mormon faith. As a member of the same club, may I point out that Harry Reid is also Mormon, and the two couldn’t be more different if they came from separate solar systems. Clearly, neither represents all Mormons. Having said that, I confess to a little intra-familial wincery when I heard Romney had decided to go after Trump.
As abysmal as he was in 2012, the one thing he had going for him was class and integrity. I admit I was mildly mortified as a fellow Mormon that he seemed to be so over his head; but I held my head a little higher to see a public figure and member of my faith holding true to gospel values.
I’m no expert of course, but I’m willing to state pretty emphatically that calling Donald Trump “a phony” and intimating that something dastardly lurks in his tax returns is not What Jesus Would Do. Beyond that, I can’t decide if it’s more tacky or puerile that Romney’s going around whining that the Donald is getting special treatment vis à vis tax returns. “I had to show my tax returns so he has to show his tax returns, too! Nah nah nah!”
If I didn’t know better, I would think Romney had a traumatic brain injury, and it completely changed his personality. Then another thought occurred to me. When I people watch, I love to imagine the backstory behind that couple or that family or that outfit. I decided to imagine a possible backstory behind Romney’s transformation from Jekyll to Hyde-light.
Let’s say he’s still the same Mitt; still as honorable, still as humble, still as patriotic. He loves this country so much that he’s willing to sacrifice his personal everything to rescue us from the doom breathing it’s hot stinky self down our necks. He reluctantly accepts the possibility that he will have to step into the fray as an additional Republican candidate.
He is willing to lay everything on the altar of submission to a higher ideal à la Abraham and Isaac (remember, this is all just my imagination). And so determined is he to serve our country, that he is making intense efforts to not repeat his bland, wishy-washiness from last time.
He had some really lousy campaign advisers in 2012, and apparently, he has the same or worse now. (Let’s just hope I’m right that it’s not God.)
How much more lousy could advice be than to kill the unique and shining part of himself? For any reason. Arrgghh! I am now quite mortified. In point of fact, even worse advice is to provoke the behemoth of take-downs, Donald Trump himself. Romney’s speech at the University of Utah was a mere eighteen minutes, just long enough to poke crazy and rouse the sleeping giant. (Seriously, what were they thinking?)
Romney invited us to watch how Trump responds to his speech as evidence of his “not-smart”ness and low moral character. I’m sure Romney can take it. But what an egregious, not-smart misread of the room:
- The more anyone attacks Trump, the stronger Trump gets,
- Mitt Romney couldn’t persuade enough people to elect him as president; why would he think he can influence the electorate out of its Trump-or-die mania; and
- What he doesn’t seem to realize, and the reason Trump gets stronger with each attack, is that when you attack Trump’s intelligence and character, you’re attacking the intelligence and character of people who support him. Romney couldn’t have unified Trump supporters more behind their fearless leader if he’d tried.
The Republican world is chaos right now, a swirling, drowning last gasp of survivability. Somebody needs to throw us a life vest. The last thing anyone should do is jump in and try to save us while we’re still flailing around. When you jump in to save the drowning, you both get wet, and nobody loves it because you’re both dead.
If Mitt Romney is seriously contemplating entering the race, he just shot himself in the foot, and the hand, and the knee, and the nose. If he is trying on a new way to be in the world, yuck. If he is suffering from some as yet undisclosed medical condition, I wish him the best.
Donna Carol Voss is an author, blogger, speaker, and mom. A Berkeley grad, a former atheist, pagan, and hot mess, she is now a Mormon on purpose and an original thinker on 21stcentury living. Her memoir, “One of Everything,” traces the path through one of everything she took to get here. Follow her on Twitter @donnacarolvoss or stop by www.donnacarolvoss.com.
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