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Mitt Romney and The Myth of the Noble Republican

Our pining for some principled Republican is pretty embarrassing

Mitt’s not gonna do shit.

On the one hand, it’s amazing to me that a couple of quasi-stern tweets from Senator Mitt Romney are enough to make people think he might support the impeachment inquiry into the president’s web of dumb corruption. On the other, this is what the political center always does. The same naïfs who got horny fantasizing about a buff, shirtless Robert Mueller locking Trump away in a squalid prison cell are now looking for another of that mythical species, the Noble Republican, to stand up to the White House and bring this age of chaos to a tidy conclusion.

Yeah, of course. The guy who ran and won a seat in Congress, for the GOP, in Utah, two years after we put a transparently unfit Republican in the Oval Office: he’s set to become a compelling voice for removing that very head of state. Absolutely. The man so appalled by Trump’s 2016 campaign that he made the moral calculation to instead support… Ted Cruz? Oh, you bet he has what it takes to turn the party against its leader in the name of higher duty to this country. 

Hey, maybe Romney can team up with some of the other reasonable, moderate Republicans in the Senate, because that is for sure an actual group of humans who exist. I’m talking Marco “The President Was Kidding” Rubio, Ben “Politics Is Bad For Politics” Sasse and Susan “Hero of the Kavanaugh Confirmation” Collins — assuming she can take a break from the vaping issue. These are the gutsy allies who could help Mitt get to the bottom of all these troubling, concerning, disturbing allegations of crimes that Trump is loudly confessing to on TV every day. Except if any of them were the type to give one single whoopity-fuck about crooked government, they wouldn’t belong to the party of gerrymandering and voter supression, the party owned by the NRA and the fossil fuels lobby, the party that maybe, at its most empathetic, feels a little awkward that we’re killing migrant children at the border.

There’s a reason Republicans love to remind you that Lincoln was a Republican: no one alive and currently in power who goes by the label is interested in meeting that standard again. At best, they can only pretend that men like John McCain exhibit some form of independence. 

We’re so desperate for adults in the room — not only our preferred progressive leaders, but a few dignified and principled conservatives to pair them with — that we mistake the most timid dissent within the ranks of the GOP for crusading bravery. I suppose this is a better show of resistance than all the chickenshits who quit rather than face re-election (and so they could, after abdicating any responsibility, continue to whine on the sidelines), but Romney saying “huh, sure looks bad” to earnest replies of “thank you, sir,” feels like outright farce.

Would I like to be proven an unjustified cynic? To see Romney push for a thorough investigation of Trump, his family, his finances and his cronies? Too right. But I bet you’re struggling to picture any of it.

So, as with impeachment fever in general, try not to get your hopes up over cautiously worded, practically focus-grouped statements of vague disquietude. These lizard-brains may not care for Trump’s foul demeanor or ripshit tweets, but they love his base, and they support almost every plank of the regressive, late-capitalist dystopia platform he represents. If they do want him gone, it will first and foremost be a matter of insulating themselves, their party and their horrible policies from the fallout. You’re a chump to expect anything else.

We’ll be watching, Mitt.