The dichotomy of wrong reactions to Mitt Romney in Utah

By Tim Donaldson

Mitt Romney seems to spark, in Utah at least, a bizarre dichotomy of wrong reactions.

On the one hand, you have the gushing fans, who are otherwise normal dignified accomplished sentient beings who turn into groupies outside a rock concert at the mere hint that the great venture capitalist might let them join his binders full of women. Yes, this includes many high level elected officials in Utah. These people believe in Mitt as Midas, the chosen one with the magic touch who can turn anything into gold. They wholeheartedly believe in the Mitt Myth of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. They imagine he accomplished something as Massachusetts Governor, which may or may not include birthing Obamacare. They believe he is a job creator, like his father, even if American Motors jobs of the 1950s Michigan suburbs are qualitatively different than the Staples jobs that the moneymen somehow created through Bain Capital.

On the other, you have the forty-seven percenters who resent his personal success, his perfect hair, his goofy grinning and somehow all still getting along with each other kids. They see the guy who pink slipped them, not a guy to drink a beer with them. This crowd is large enough that Mr. Romney has always underperformed at the ballot box, especially considering the moneyed expectations.

There are few explanations that make sense to me as to why the 70-year-old statesman emeritus is considering lowering himself to the United States Senate. I wonder if Orrin Hatch and John McCain didn’t trick him into it by pretending like they might recruit Jon Huntsman Jr. He is downplaying it now, but I have to believe that it is a forum towards a conservative revolt against Trump at the least, and a springboard towards a 2020 run at most. As a conservative who fears that President Trump’s successes are going to be pennywise and pound foolish for the party, that the toxicity of Trump may linger on us for decades, I would like to get excited about a 2020 Romney possibility.

But. Even though Romney is the one person with the resources–not just his own but the fabled billions that got Jeb those seven votes in 2016–and name to put a serious challenge to Trump in 2020, I don’t think Mitt the ballot underperformer would actually wrest the nomination away from Trump the ballot overachiever.

And the result would likely mean President Warren or Booker or Winfrey or Gillebrand or Harris. Consider that an incumbent President has been in a position to seek re-election eight times in the last half-century, and they are 4 for 8. There is 100% correlation (which does not necessarily mean causation, granted) between whether they faced a serious interparty challenge and lost (1968 antiwar activists stopped LBJ from even running, 1976 Reagan challenged Ford, 1980 Teddy Kennedy challenged Carter, 1992 Buchanan/Perot challenged Bush) or whether they didn’t (’84, ’96, ’04, ’12) and won.

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