So Thursday night there was a gathering of Reagan alumni at the Heritage Foundation. The reunion is an annual one on every February 6th – President Reagan’s birthday.
Like any other kind of reunion, it is a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues and trade favorite stories, in this case about our beloved former boss, the nation’s 40th president.
Yet this being one day after President Trump was acquitted in the Senate, I couldn’t help but notice something interesting. Scattered around the room were Reagan alum wearing buttons that read simply: Quit Mitt
Ouch. Mitt Romney, now the junior Senator from Utah, had been receiving harsh criticism from President Trump and all manner of other Republicans for voting to convict the President on one Article of Impeachment. And of course, Romney was being lavished with praise by the Leftist State Media for doing just that.
But in fact, as I realized at this Reagan gathering, Mitt Romney’s vote was more than just about his loathing President Trump. Reagan alumni of all the people on the planet would recall another Romney moment – a moment that had nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump and everything to do with Ronald Reagan.
Why in the world would Utah Republicans ever send someone like this to the US Senate in the first place? And will they do it again when Romney’s term comes up?
It was 1994, the former President very much alive and out of office barely five years. He was also at the beginning of his battle with Alzheimer’s.
In Massachusetts, then-resident Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee facing Democratic icon Senator Ted Kennedy for Kennedy’s Senate seat. The two faced off in a debate, and Kennedy quickly went to what he, the famous far-left liberal Democrat, saw as a Romney vulnerability. That would be what Teddy referred to as the “Reagan-Bush economic programs.” Which, of course, Kennedy had staunchly opposed during the Reagan era, in spite of what historians already realized had been an enormous success.
And Romney’s response to this assault on Reagan? He said this:
“Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”
In a blink, Romney had just attacked Ronald Reagan, then as now the most popular past president of the day and, as we Reaganites knew, an icon of the Republican Party. Romney’s response also made clear that he hadn’t even thought of himself as a Republican, much less a conservative. He was, he said, “an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush.”
Then recall 2012, when Romney does win the GOP nomination by, among other things, proclaiming at the Conservative Political Action Conference – CPAC – that he was “severely conservative.” By tradition, not to mention as common courtesy, the members of the last Republican ticket are invited to participate in the convention. But not this time. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the conservative heroine of the 2008 campaign, was not only not invited to speak, she wasn’t invited to the Convention period.
One could go on. But the essence is that Mitt Romney has in fact never been a conservative and indeed, at one point never considered himself a Republican. Thus his vote to convict President Trump is totally in keeping with his past.
The question is: Why in the world would Utah Republicans ever send someone like this to the US Senate in the first place? And will they do it again when Romney’s term comes up?
Hmm. Can you say, Senator Jason Chaffetz?