In a recent interview with McKay Coppins of The Atlantic, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said he would vote to convict President Donald Trump on the impeachment article alleging abuse of power, but not on the article alleging obstruction of Congress.
“This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life,” Romney told Coppins yesterday afternoon. Romney is the only Republican who voted to convict on any of the articles of impeachment.
Romney’s decision was terrifically predictable, and given his vote did not swing the results in either direction, the gravitas that he already assigned to his decision — in the form of two interview “exclusives” — seems a bit theatrical and self-indulgent. There’s an unshakeable self-satisfaction that Romney exudes when he goes on heavy-headed tours, demarcating to the adoring left how he is decidedly different from all the other GOP members.
Yes, he’s different from many others within the GOP in the sense that he has no firm principles upon which to base his political decisions besides self-interest and self-importance. He is vaguely in favor of free markets insofar as he appreciates a pro-business environment, having been a businessman once. But that seems to be the extent of his political personality.
Romney’s efforts to appear above the “lesser” GOP fray in many cases has translated into a repudiation of conservatism. To be clear, Romney may vote however he pleases, but he, along with our media betters, will likely portray his alleged defection as a more principled approach to conservatism. That takeaway is incorrect. Romney has been voting against his own party’s voters for his entire political career, and on core moral issues, not just pragmatic choices such as the level of tax rates or regulation.
For starters, Romney’s track record on religious freedom has been poor. Catholic leaders in Massachusetts, the state in which Romney formerly served as governor, have emphasized Romney’s role in forcing Catholic hospitals to administer the abortifacient Plan B, even if doing so violated the consciences of the employee required to administer the deadly drugs. “The injury to the conscience rights of Catholic hospitals was not done so much so much by the church’s ideological enemies on the Left but by the Romney administration,” C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, explained to LifeSiteNews.com back in 2012.
Furthermore, as Rolling Stone points out, Romney has flipped on everything from abortion to health care, making it hard to determine whether he means what he espouses at any given moment.
In a 1994 debate with Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, he proudly announced, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.” He “evolved” to eventually arrive at the pro-life position in 2011, at the convenient moment he decided to run on the Republican ticket
The playbook is the same for health care, where he went from supporting an insurance mandate – arguing that he would love to export the Massachusetts Romneycare model to the nation at large – to accusing Bret Baier of being “wrong” when the Fox host attempted to remind him of this. The Baier interaction occurred in 2011, as Romney geared up for yet another presidential bid.
In 2003, when Romney appeared at a legislative conference in Massachusetts, he earned ire for failing to take a position on the George W. Bush tax cuts, presumably at an event heavily attended by Democrats. Yet, just four years later, Romney had the audacity to declare he had supported the tax cuts, accusing former Sen. John McCain of not doing so. It’s no surprise that the “flop” reared its ugly head in the year leading up to his 2008 presidential bid.
The same transformation vis-à-vis his opinion on former President Ronald Reagan unfolded before his 2008 presidential attempt. He claimed in 1994 that he was an “independent” at the time of Reagan-Bush to declaring Reagan to be one of his “heroes” in 2006. He spent the early 1990s attempting to distance himself from presidents Reagan and Bush, only to embrace them for politically convenient purposes upon seeking the presidency himself.
None of these examples is to suggest that Romney must hold the same positions forever and be lambasted if his positions ever change. But as my friend Josh Hammer, Daily Wire Editor-at-Large, suggested to me, Romney is an “inveterate chameleon” whose political opinions are not founded upon any transcendent principles but based solely upon what he perceives as capable of granting him the most approval from DC sycophants.
He attempts to portray himself as a moral bulwark, but as the above shifts in opinion indicate, many of his political leanings seem to be more a product of self-interest than of genuine moral clarity. In the coming days, he will be paraded around by the media as the model Republican for all the reasons GOP voters increasingly dislike him. Contrary to the media’s deification of Romney as the only principled figure within the GOP, it’s ironically all politics to him. No principles.