corn flakes with milk

You’ve heard the old joke about the minister who uses the invocation he delivers at a political banquet as both a warning and a teaching moment: “Oh Lord, make our words sweet, for one day we may have to eat them!”

This is not that type of column, though it offers a form of confession. Despite that anecdotal admonition, the sweetest words of tongue, pen or word processor are simply these: “Told you so!” 

Your not-so-humble columnist refers you to an essay he authored two years ago that predicted an incoming U.S. senator from Utah would emulate the curious conduct of a departing one from Arizona:

No gift of prophecy was needed; Mitt Romney offered ample notice that he fully intended to become the gray-templed version of Jeff Flake. If anything, Romney has eclipsed the obnoxiousness of the now-retired Flake — and that’s saying something.

Speaking of saying something, that’s one of the main sources of revenue for Arizona’s “one-term wonder.” Flake now enjoys financial recompense from organizations such as CBS News whenever the “journalists” there need a comment criticizing the Republican Party. Add to that a board position with an Arizona-based national homebuilder, and Jeff can say with his ever-present smirk that advocating cheap labor and open borders is good for the economy — at least for the economic conditions of the Flake family.

While the financial windfall may take the sting out of the 18% approval rating that prompted Flake’s flight instead of fight in a campaign for re-election, how should we regard Romney’s current conduct? What motivates Mitt these days?

Willard Mitt Romney is not motivated by money, because he’s already made a boatload. Planning and executing corporate takeovers, exporting jobs overseas and shrinking the domestic job market helped fatten Mitt’s wallet to the point that he even put some of his dough in offshore accounts, mirroring the commerce he sent elsewhere.

And elsewhere is where Mitt Romney wants to be, specifically at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in a big White House. He denies such intentions, but “follow your dreams” is the obligatory advice dispensed at high school and college commencements, and it’s something that Romney finds tough to reject — especially when one such dream has been realized.

Mitt made no effort to mask his delight at Donald Trump’s departure from the executive mansion. Indeed, Romney must feel it is some sort of cosmic retribution directly for his own benefit. 

How else to explain his self-centered response to fellow Utah Republicans, who booed him lustily when he tried to defend his two votes for Trump’s impeachment and asserted that he “wasn’t a fan of our last president’s character issues”? Taking umbrage at their catcalls and hostility, Romney asked the assembled multitude, “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

Apparently, plenty of Utah party activists are embarrassed by Mitt’s actions in the Senate. Though a censure resolution against Romney failed by 87 votes out of 1,509 cast at the recent state convention, two Republican county organizations have censured their junior senator.

It may eventually dawn on Romney that the “Flake-iness” he has employed is not doing him any favors. If he is intent on remaining in public office, Romney must use these next two years to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of conservative activists within Utah’s GOP.

Failing that, Mitt Romney in 2024 may discover what Jeff Flake did in 2018 — that he doesn’t have a prayer.