Brett Arends's ROI: Romney’s embrace of Trump should be no surprise

Why would Mitt Romney be so willing to change his mind about President-elect Donald Trump — a man he called a “phony” and a “fraud,” a vulgar bully, and an enabler of racism, misogyny and violence?

Easy. Because Romney has absolutely no political soul. He has no core beliefs, no principle, and no backbone. He will say anything, to anyone, at any time, to get ahead — and change it just as easily.

I covered Romney as a reporter when he was governor of Massachusetts, and I wrote a biography of him when he ran for president in 2012.

What I learned is that Romney, the alleged statesman, is like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland: There is no ‘there’ there.” 

Romney has no loyalty to anything or anyone other than himself, his family, and the Mormon organization. Going from Trump critic to Trump cheerleader? No problem. Even becoming Trump’s secretary of state, should that happen, would be all in a day’s work.

Mitt Romney speaks after a dinner with Donald Trump

(2:18)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney joined President-elect Donald Trump and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus for dinner in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. Following the meal, Romney spoke to reporters. Photo: Getty

Romney is a man who said last spring: “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat. His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”

Romney also said: “Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these.”

So if you’re surprised that Romney is gushing about Trump, now painting him as “the very man who can lead us to a better future,” don’t be.

Mitt Romney has never met an opinion he couldn’t abandon.

Romney has never met an opinion he couldn’t abandon.

He was pro-choice before he was pro-life. He was for “amnesty” for illegal immigrants before he was against it. He was for gay rights before he was against them. He was for an economic stimulus before he was against it. He was for a halt on foreclosures before he was against it. He was for the state of Massachusetts when he was running for governor — and against it when he was running for president.

No one ever defined Romneyspeak better than his onetime spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. When Romney tried to update Ronald Reagan’s famous “Misery Index,” and claimed that the “Obama Misery Index” had just hit a new peak, reporters asked how it was calculated.

“It is a rhetorical reference,” Fehrnstrom replied. “It encompasses real unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, national debt and whatever other indicator that Governor Romney wants to use…”

Reagan’s Misery Index was the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate. It was an actual verifiable number. Romney’s version was, quite literally, whatever Romney wanted it to be at the moment. (Which meant, of course, that it was also “at a new peak” whenever he wanted it to be)

Will Mitt Romney humiliate himself and agree to be Trump’s secretary of state? It would be par for the course. But anyone hoping that Romney in this role would guarantee success should brace themselves for a dose of reality.

Romney is just a former management consultant made good. Like Trump, he made his fortune gambling with other people’s money. He never ran a real business — as he has admitted. His track record at Bain Capital wasn’t remotely as successful as he pretended.

He was a big, fat flop as governor of Massachusetts. He pitched himself as a “can-do” executive, but Romney had a bad record on jobs and a mediocre record on everything else. Romney couldn’t wait to get out of the state he was supposed to run. He left Massachusetts in a mess. The state Republican party took almost a decade to recover from his one term.

Maybe he’d be a better diplomat than he would be an executive. Maybe he’d put in a good turn as Donald Trump’s pitchman — a Billy Mays in a Brooks Brothers suit. We’ll have to wait and see.

Now read: Hillary Clinton supporters need to quit whining about the Electoral College 

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