A phony and a fraud was visited upon the American people today but it wasn’t only Donald Trump.
Mitt Romney, a two time failure at the presidential sweepstakes and the self-appointed guardian of the Republican establishment, stood at a podium in Utah Thursday morning and accused Donald Trump – the same Donald Trump whose support he courted and touted in 2012 – of being “very, very not smart.”
“Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark,” said Romney – apparently without a shred of self-reflection or embarrassment.
Romney accused Trump of changing his positions “over the course of years.” He berated him for referring to himself as “The Donald,” something anyone reading a New York tabloid has known he does for at twenty years. He claimed that “his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” which has been under investigation by the authorities in New York for over a decade.
All of these allegations are indisputably true – and they were indisputably true in 2012, when Romney proudly stood next to Trump and accepted his endorsement.
Romney and the Republican establishment are Dr. Frankenstein and Trump is their monster. They coddled him and not-so-tacitly encouraged him when he – a reality star better known for business bankruptcies and firing C-list celebrities – engaged in thinly xenophobic “searches” for President Obama’s real birth certificate.
Trump suited their political purposes, which were never about a higher national discourse or even about real policy victories. Romney and his cohort were interested only in winning, which is why they encouraged the growth of the Tea Party in 2009 and tolerated John McCain’s selection of a vice-presidential nominee who is simply Trump in beta form.
Now, suddenly, Frankenstein’s monster has turned against his enablers and they cannot control him. Nothing in Trump’s past – not the crassness that Romney finds so distasteful today, not the xenophobia which Romney repudiates today, not the lack of policy detail at which Romney shudders today – comes as a surprise. It is vintage Trump, as it has been vintage Trump for the three decades or more than he has been in the public eye.
Did Romney know all this when he stood on stage with Trump in 2012 to accept his endorsement? That question is irrelevant, because it assumes that Romney cared. He did not. The same way John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other leaders of the Republican establishment did not care when they stoked Tea Party flames to attain their congressional majorities.
If these establishment politicians truly believed that Trump could win and that they could control him, they would be endorsing every single thing he says as long as it got him to the White House and allowed them to keep their congressional majorities. Past, after all, is prologue.
Now the same establishment is standing aghast at the prospect of the very forces they cynically exploited nominating a presidential candidate who may belatedly take them all down.
At the height of the French Revolution, ever more-extreme elements began to devour the revolution's leaders for being too soft. Georges Danton, an early revolutionary, was guillotined for not being zealous enough. The Republican establishment is the Georges Danton of this particular revolution.
So who is the phony and the fraud?