It was a stunning lesson in irony.
When the grumpy old patricians of the Grand Old Party trotted out Mitt Romney to denounce Donald Trump, the event fizzled in the same way that Richard Nixon fizzled when he denounced the Washington Post for lying about Watergate.
There was Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, former Republican nominee for president, a one-percenter and champion caretaker for the upper crust, telling America why the Republican party, the party of inclusion, should exclude Trump from its frazzled crew of candidates for president.
Trump’s erratic pronouncements on national security threaten the sanctity of American foreign policy, Romney said. Trump’s foreign policy invites danger and would make America and the world less safe; “he has neither the temperament nor judgment to be president.” There was more: Trump’s domestic policies would lead to recession, his scorn for minorities and his demeaning treatment of women and the disabled make him unfit to be president, or even a candidate for president, Romney said. Sen. John McCain and others of the new old guard agreed. Trump must go.
The Romney event may be stale news but the force of its paradox remains fresh: Every accusation fired at Trump is a prime fit for his two prominent challengers.
Irresponsible foreign policy? The U.S. had barely reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba, ending a 60-year freeze, when Marco Rubio, the Florida senator and son of Cuban immigrants, denounced the agreement and demanded that we close our new embassy in Havana. Sen. Ted Cruz, the firebrand evangelical from Texas, would “carpet-bomb” the Middle East in search of ISIS. Cruz and Rubio would permanently cripple
Planned Parenthood and have pledged undying support for an end to all abortion, which some see as a threat to women’s health care. Cruz and Rubio both support deportation of nearly 12 million illegal Mexicans, and placing American Muslims on a national “watch list,” and abolishing the Affordable Care Act, whose clients include nearly 40 million previously uninsured Americans.
All the denouncements of Trump, the rants about his dangerous foreign policy, his erratic economics, even his “misogyny” (Romney is a Mormon, a faith that consigns women to male subjugation.), are only so much smoke.
What truly bothers the Republican lords is that Trump can’t be controlled. Unlike Romney, or Cruz, Rubio, McCain and others, Trump is his own boss. He can’t be bought, sold or told what to do and say. It drives the nabobs nuts.
So they trot out someone like Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, an over-achiever among crackpot fringe initiates, to announce that a party led by Trump would not present its best interests. “If our party is no longer working for the things we believe in – like defending the sanctity of life, stopping Obamacare, protecting the Second Amendment, etc. … then people of good conscience should stop supporting that party until it is reformed,” Sasse said in a statement.”
Put another way: Trump won’t do what we say, stick to the script, or repeat after us. Not even the Kochs can buy him. He is as crazy as we are, but he isn’t us, and we can’t have people who aren’t us.
The bosses have stepped in it, and they’re stuck with Trump.
No matter how hard they try, Trump isn’t easily scraped from the bottom of a shoe.