Our Opinion: Romney's right — but is wrong guy to take on Trump
The Republican establishment, having largely created the Frankenstein's monster that is Donald Trump, is now coming after him like so many angry peasants with torches and pitchforks.
The latest to go on the attack is Mitt Romney, who lost to Barack Obama four years ago as the party's presidential nominee. It's not that the harsh indictment Mr. Romney launched Thursday is inaccurate — there is really no disputing his many good points. But Mr. Romney is absolutely the wrong person to deliver such an indictment, and his assault is likely to solidify Mr. Trump's support if not gain him new followers.
Mr. Romney, first of all, disgraced himself in the eyes of many Republicans by failing to defeat the evil "radical-Kenyan" president in 2012 and he carries no credibility with them today. When Mr. Trump pointed out that Mr. Romney sought and received his endorsement four years ago, Mr. Romney replied via twitter that he would not have accepted it had the current front-runner made then the same divisive comments he has made this year. Mr. Trump, however, has not changed his spots, he has only drawn greater attention to them. He's the guy now he's always been.
Most significantly, however, Mitt Romney is really no more than a better-mannered version of Donald Trump. When Mr. Romney was seen on a crippling videotape dismissing 47 percent of Americans as lazy freeloaders living off government entitlements he was every bit as cruel and inaccurate as Mr. Trump has been. GOP leaders like Mr. Romney with his "47 percent" and Senator Ted Cruz with his "New York values" speak in easily interpreted code — in contrast, Mr. Trump is straightforward about his biases.
Mr. Romney, the son of former American Motors Chairman and President George Romney, was maybe not the ideal person to criticize Mr. Trump for being born wealthy. The former Massachusetts governor accurately called out Mr. Trump for bankruptcies that hurt small businesses and their employees, but that attack rings hollow coming from a former chief executive of Bain Capital, which regularly bought, gutted and dumped struggling businesses.
Mr. Romney, who was caught employing undocumented workers at his home, had to avoid criticizing Mr. Trump for doing the same in business. The candidate who flip-flopped on his support of abortion and gay rights when he decided to run for president is in no position to criticize Mr. Trump's many flip-flops during his evolution into a right-winger. Mr. Romney accurately described Mr. Trump as "a phony, a fraud." Those terms, however, describe Mr. Romney just as accurately.
Mr. Romney also revealed the Republican Party establishment's desperation and confusion in trying to find a strategy to stop Mr. Trump when he urged primary voters to back different candidates in different states to presumably keep the front-runner below the delegate count needed to win the nomination, setting up a brokered convention. The strategy for the past several weeks was to persuade candidates to drop out so Mr. Trump would only face one party challenger. Is divide-and-conquer replacing unite-and-conquer as a tactic?
The truth is, the party's leaders have absolutely no idea of what to do with a presidential candidate they created by making government look bad through their constant obstructionism and by coddling angry, misinformed tea partiers until they turned their attention from Democrats to their fellow Republicans.
Ultimately, when the "dump Trump" movement fails, thanks in large part to failed politicians like Mitt Romney, the Republican Party establishment will fall in behind Mr. Trump, rationalizing away all of the objections to him and criticisms of him of the previous months. Then the party's leaders will join both Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump in the categories of phoniness and fraudulence.