It’s a terrible thing to watch a man destroy the best of his own legacy.
Thankfully, we won’t have to watch much longer as the Orrin Hatch who isn’t sure we can afford the Children’s Health Insurance Program sets fire to the Orrin Hatch who helped create it. We won’t have much longer to wonder how the Orrin Hatch who used to lead bipartisan efforts with his friend Ted Kennedy ever became the Orrin Hatch who shows no interest in working across the aisle in the U.S. Senate.
Hatch is doing the right thing in retiring, especially because he’s making way for Mitt Romney. If he does become the next senator from Utah, Romney will have as much freedom as he wants to take on the president. Hatch never took advantage of the fact that his state is both deep red and strongly anti-Trump, but that is a counterweight the country needs, and the GOP in particular, no matter what that arsonist Steve Bannon says.
Unlike Bannon, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP nominee doesn’t set off explosives for fun and profit, and I’m not expecting him to disagree with the president just to keep his skills up. Or because Donald Trump seemed to go out of his way to humiliate Romney, both during the 2016 campaign and during his pretend tryout for secretary of state.
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But remember when Romney said Russia was our biggest geopolitical threat? Remember how he never once bragged about his big, fully functional button? Remember how he at all times behaves as though he had a mother?
It’s because he’s not given to drama that he could be an effective check on the president. (Yes, even though some on the right see him as epitomizing the swamp, and will never forgive him for RomneyCare. And yes, even though virtually the entire left sees him as a phony with a car elevator who thinks “corporations are people, my friend.”)
With Sen. Jeff Flake retiring, Sen. John McCain ailing and Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeting about Trump’s spectacular golf course, we need a Republican in power — and no, TV pundits don’t count — who will speak out as needed, as Romney has. After the president defended the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, Va., Romney wrote this:
“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn't mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.... Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?
“The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis — who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat — and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag.”
After the president endorsed accused teen-molester Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, Romney was again unequivocal: “Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation,’’ he tweeted. “Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
If Romney is elected, we can expect him to legislate like the Republican that he always has been, and to go along with much of the president’s agenda. But if he also speaks truth to insanity on occasion, to me that will be more than just lip service.