President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State. But we should not forget about the person who wasn’t chosen, Mitt Romney.
The ascendance of Donald Trump exposed the fissures in our democracy, the embeddedness of white supremacy and the depths of political cowardice within the Republican Party. Mitt Romney embarrassingly added his name to the list of Republicans who have sold their soul for power.
As you might recall, Mitt Romney gave one of the most blistering critiques of Donald Trump during this election season. When Romney gave the speech in March 2016, it was becoming increasingly clear to Republicans and Americans around the country that Donald Trump was headed toward the Republican nomination. The #never Trump crowd was growing because Trump was first seen as an insincere Republican using the Party label to shamelessly promote himself and feed division. This, along with Trump’s incoherence on domestic and foreign policy issues pushed the once respected statesman Mitt Romney to give a cable televised speech at the Hinckley Institute. Mitt Romney’s speech was delivered with passion and he appeared to be genuinely disgusted by the man. Romney ripped into Trump as a man of reprehensible character, childish temperament and reckless judgment that should be far away from the White House as possible. The speech was powerful in delivery and content.
As Mitt predicted, Trump stayed true to himself and attacked Romney. And in classic Trump form, he went below the belt as he reflected on Romney seeking his endorsement during his 2012 presidential run: "I don't know what happened to him," Trump said during a rally in Portland, Maine. "You can see how loyal he is. He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees." This suggestive act of performing fellatio was an attempt to demean Romney, to imply subservience and characterize him as desperate, willing to do anything to get what he wanted.
Mitt Romney’s speech, and all of the other forms of opposition from the #never Trump crowd, was not able to deter the American people from electing Donald Trump the next President of the United States. But this isn’t the first time Romney has chosen to resurface from one of his mansions and attempt to regain political relevance. After his well-deserved loss to Obama in 2012, Romney spent years harshly criticizing President Obama's foreign policy.
Romney’s flawed perception of self-importance continues to find an audience because of his modest political success and accumulated wealth as a businessman. However, Romney’s open pursuit of the Secretary of State position in the Trump administration shed light on his character and hypocrisy. No one forced Romney to give that speech warning America and the world about the dangerously unstable Donald Trump. It was Romney who detailed the real threats Trump posed to American democracy.
It was Romney who gave example after example highlighting Trump as a man of little integrity, breathtaking dishonesty and at his core, a grotesque individual. Romney did not hold any political office when he spoke and his public admonition of Trump was completely voluntary.
If Romney was a man of conviction, he could have used his speech to solidify his place in the #nevertrump movement and use whatever influence he has left to speak relentlessly about the damage Trump will inflict on this nation. Instead, Romney chose to go a different, more undignified route. Astonishingly, Romney convinced himself that Trump would forget the speech he gave and welcome him with open arms. His arrogance has always clouded his reasoning. Romney’s dinner dates with Trump probably included apologies, praise and pleas for forgiveness. Donald Trump wouldn’t have met with Romney without this expectation. After those meetings, Romney made public statements speaking highly of Trump.
In the end, Romney was not given the Secretary of State position that he coveted. Not only that, Trump masterfully nullified Romney’s speech and influence going forward. Once again, Romney is picking up the pieces of his ego off the floor. The humiliation is now complete.