2016 Election

Mitt Romney Is an American Oligarch


- April 23rd, 2019
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Robert Mueller’s hit job disguised as a counterintelligence report would not be complete until America heard from its favorite Bain Capital founder whose dad was a governor: Willard “Mitt” Romney.

The senator from Utah was “appalled” at Mueller’s revelations, but not in the raised eyebrow sort of way you or I would be when the baseball manager signals the bullpen and brings in the struggling pitcher.

No, Romney was upset like the guy who forgets to lock the bathroom door in first class and suffers an intrusion by a confused kid from the cheap seats who blurts out, “Sorry, dude.”

Romney tweeted, as part of a longer rant, “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”

Yes, Mitt is “sickened” by what he sees as Trump’s bad behavior cataloged in the report. Not disturbed. Not disappointed. But reduced to a state of retching.

It is kind of nostalgic to return for a moment to the Romney brand of Republicanism and contemplate just how pretentious and ineffective it was.

Mitt never disappoints, bringing back 2012 dressed like an L.L. Bean catalog model with the same dumb look on his face.

He reminds us that if you want someone who can cause buyers to ask a few years after their purchase “what the hell were we thinking?” pick a Romney. His dad’s big-time Detroit automobile company, after all, produced the Gremlin, the Pacer, and the Rambler.

Trump does not share Romney’s exquisite moral pose. There is no studied patrician bearing in his boldly coifed, casino owner style.

He does, though, have the sort of character that Romney has never exhibited in public life.

As I stated in a piece published here in August:

Donald Trump never claimed to be a paragon of morality. His supporters understood that early in the courtship. People who are not highly paid political consultants cannot afford to abandon relationships over the venal failures of those with whom they associate.

They would lose their best salesman, their favorite mechanic, and the guy who cuts their grass.

Americans believe… that a basic morality undergirds Trump’s politics. He may be unfaithful in other relationships, but in dealings with his supporters he has been heroically true.

He sticks to his promises under attacks that men with greater reputations for virtue have fled.

In contrast, Romney got rich by using other people’s money to buy distressed assets and sell them off. For that, he was given much credit on the political right for his capitalist bona fides.

Romney, though, was never a capitalist, at least not like the roofing subcontractor in your neighborhood who makes so much money he takes three weeks off at Christmas.

Instead, he is America’s version of an oligarch: someone who gained wealth by political connections then turned that wealth to his political advantage.

There are lots of them on our side. Think of, oh I don’t know, Jeb Bush.

Generally, they are the ones who have no stomach for the fight to save humanity that is presently being waged.

Here’s the difference between an oligarch and a real capitalist: If walking dead people attacked the world and pushed all sentient beings onto an island where they organized themselves according to skill and ability, Mitt Romney would spend his days carrying buckets of fresh water to the roofing subcontractor’s thatched hut.

The Republican coalition under Romney and the Bushes never met an elitist globalist policy they didn’t like.

Trump—who came by his money the old fashioned way, in New York real estate—has abandoned the self-important people for a coalition of roofing subcontractors and long haul truckers that stretches from Pennsylvania, through West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan, all the way to Wisconsin.

As the rules of poetry require, he has been joined on his adventure by a loyal sidekick dairy farmer, Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who runs circles around the oligarchs in his ability to think, discern, and draw practical inferences from evidence.

“Trumpism,” with its populist policies, stands athwart the perversion of capitalism that selects winners and losers based on political access.

Romney hates it because it means he is not really as big a deal as he thinks he is. So he displays his insecurity by becoming a scold.

Trump certainly does have a way of making his enemies look foolish.

It is hilarious that Romney has chosen this moment to stake out common cause with the most slapstick political comedy ever seen outside of an Alan Arkin movie.

How stupid can he be to join the clamoring against Russian collusion the day after it is discredited and on the eve of it being further exposed as a hoax?

I predicted in these pages last month that the Mueller report would find no evidence of collusion and yet “continue to stoke suspense” because “this crew is not going to let go of the hold Russia has had on the uncritical, including some notable pundits on the Right.”

Thank you for proving me right, Mitt.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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