The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Mitt Romney. Not One of Us.’

(Jim Young / Reuters)

The GOP word of the day is “inappropriate,” apparently. Republicans are willing to concede that President Trump’s handling of Ukraine was “inappropriate” — some of them are, at least. Others are staying loyal.

“Inappropriate” was Lamar Alexander’s word. It is counted courageous in some circles. But could there be a weaker, more delicate word? “Inappropriate” is wearing white shoes after Labor Day, according to tradition.

Lisa Murkowski said “shameful and wrong.” That was pretty stand-up, I thought. She is for acquittal — but she is not, evidently, for illusions.

Ukraine is our democratic ally. It is struggling to hold off Putin’s Russia, which has invaded it and is making war against it. More than 14,000 people have died in that war. (For good measure, Russia has annexed part of Ukraine’s territory.)

Congress appropriated military aid to Ukraine. Trump withheld that aid, in order to pressure the Ukrainians into investigating his domestic political rivals.

What would we conservatives say if a Democrat had done this? “Inappropriate”? “Naughty,” maybe?

“But the Ukrainians got their aid!” the president’s defenders tell me. Sure. After Trump got caught.

They say other things too, and I have addressed them in the past, particularly in a piece I reported from Ukraine in December: here.

Like his fellow senators, Mitt Romney has spoken about Trump and Ukraine. He’s supposed to be a prissy, decorous Mormon. (Some of his antagonists have always delighted in calling him “Mittens” and “Willard,” and I see they are back at it today.) But he is obviously made of sterner stuff than the “inappropriate” crowd: “appalling,” he has said, and more.

I believe that Romney is one of the most capable and admirable men ever to run for president. I have said this many times. I believe that the voters’ rejection of him in 2012 was tragic. But I’m glad that Utahns saw fit to send him to the Senate. He is a credit to America.

Romney is voting to convict, on one count. Honestly, I’m not sure what I would do: I could argue either way. My colleagues have argued on either side of the question. But I do know that Romney has brass ones. He is willing to stand apart, and to stand alone, at least in his party.

“Mitt Romney. Not one of us.” That was an ad that Obama-Biden ran against Romney in 2012. I’ve come to believe that the ad is true. Romney is not like us — not like most of us, at least.

Today, Democrats and Republicans can unite in saying, “Mitt Romney. Not one of us.” Yup.

You remember when Ted Cruz sent Republicans into a tizzy when he said “Vote your conscience” in 2016? That tizzy has now been reprised.

I can hear people saying that Romney simply wants invitations to cocktail parties. Let me tell you, with confidence: Romney doesn’t want cocktails (and neither do I, for what it’s worth).

His name is mud today — certainly in GOP-ville, certainly on the right. But there may well come a day when people, stroking their chin, say, “You know, I always liked ol’ Mitt.”

Uh-huh.

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