Mitt Romney is now riding to the rescue of his besieged Republican establishmentarians. He has come out of hibernation to help Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. If this were a joke, it would be sublimely funny.
Calling Donald Trump, a “phony” and a “fraud,” Mitt has come out swinging. Regrettably, he did not come out swinging four years ago when he ran a failed candidacy for president and allowed President Obama to belittle him in a televised debate. A Romney presidency could have been a class act, and we would no longer have to watch the White House apologizing for American success.
So Mitt Romney, the successful governor of Massachusetts and private equity czar, had his chance. He was handed caviar with a mother of pearl spoon. The stage was set. Obamacare was an economic train wreck in slow motion, jammed down the throats of an American majority, with its implementation to be massacred through stunning incompetence. The Benghazi tragedy had occurred before the Obama-Romney televised debate, without candor by the Administration. The lie about its cause was maintained for weeks, including to the families of the fallen by Secretary Clinton. An inexperienced President Obama also seemed to believe that American influence was the main problem in the world. The economic recovery was weak with painfully high unemployment. What more could a Republican aspirant want?
Yet Mitt could not deliver. He did not attack the president on Benghazi, an issue given to him like manna from the firmament. Instead, he let himself be patronized by the president about how aircraft carriers conduct flight operations. That debate put him away.
Even worse, Romney called Trump’s endorsement of him in 2012 “a delight,” praising Trump for his understanding of global economics and his ability to create jobs for the American people. At that time, Romney and Trump were engaged in mutual admiration.
The grandees of the Republican Party have themselves to blame for the ascent of Donald Trump. Their message has earned them the label the “Party of No.” Donald Trump’s message is optimistic: “Make America Great Again.” In a glib, sound bite culture, the GOP has allowed its opposition to define it as the masters of negativity. It has allowed itself to be marked as the party of country club “I’ve got mine” curmudgeons who would rather be playing twilight golf. While Mitt to his credit is upbeat, he could not inspire the way Donald Trump has for many.
The fundamental problem with the GOP has been the lack of charismatic leadership and an inability to bond with a majority of the American people. In the race for the presidency in 2012, Mitt was cast a businessman. Yet in reality he is finance guy, someone who can restructure companies and then create future value in a sale — through impressive financial acumen.
A businessman, by contrast, must also understand marketing — and know how to pitch messages to the emotions of people through the right paper, electronic and social media. This is the essence of positive branding where the GOP elders have come up short.
For better or for worse, the fiery and belligerent Donald Trump understands the emotions of many Americans on the need for national security and secure borders. While his vision of eleven million mass deportations is not only ridiculous but operationally impossible, Trump has still managed to rally some of the country on the need to protect the borders.
Mitt is well-meaning in his effort to prevent a takeover of the GOP by Trump’s philosophy and myrmidons. But before blaming Donald Trump for a schism in the GOP, the Republican high command should stand in front of a full length mirror and weep.