Dear Mitt Romney: Will You Be a Senator Smith or a Senator Paine?

Then President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney shake hands as Romney leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016.

By Al Perrotta Published on January 3, 2019

Dear Mitt,

Congratulations on being sworn in as the junior senator from the great state of Utah. Nobody questions that you look the part. When Hollywood’s casting a “regal statesman” character they’ve got you in mind.

But it seems you have confused playing a character with having character. Yes, I’m talking about your editorial in the Washington Post ripping President Trump. We can summarize the column in one phrase: “We need a President who looks and acts like me.”

Here’s the irony, Senator. We would have had a president who looked and acted exactly like you, had you gone after Barack Obama with half the sweat and spit you do Trump.

Where Was the “Character” Talk in 2012?

In 2012, Republicans were looking to you to take on Obama on behalf of the American people. Instead you acted like you were taking him to a movie premiere. 

You were standing on a debate stage with a man who was lying through his teeth about the Benghazi terrorist attack, who had lied about Obamacare, had heavily armed Mexican drug gangs, had armed al-Qaida-linked Islamists in Libya, welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood take-over of Egypt, was negotiating to give a nuke to a nation that screams “Death to America,” and refused to even utter the phrase “Islamic terrorism.” A man who had let New Black Panther members threaten white voters with clubs and never missed an opportunity to stoke racial and ethnic division. A man who had unleashed the awful power of the IRS (and other agencies) to crush a grass roots movement that was rising up to challenge his policies. 

A man who talked like a Lit professor but governed like Al Capone.

Did you fight him? Did you call him out, demand an accounting? Speak for those voters whose voice Obama had silenced? Did you question the character of a man who could arm Islamists and then blame a YouTube video when the operation backfired? No. You gave him about as much grief as Donny does Marie in their stage act. 

You were such a gentleman. You showed such “character.” 

So Now You Roll into Town

So now you roll into Washington, DC, a newly minted Senator. And what was your first act? Attacking the man whose endorsement you sought and got a few short months ago. That’s cynical calculation. That’s not character. That’s playing a character. Walking onto the capitol stage in the role of the “righteous Republican voice of reason” against the president. Undercutting out of the gate the leader of your party. No wonder other Republicans are ticked. RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel is ticked, too. And she’s your niece!

You followed up your WaPost attack with an appearance on CNN. You couldn’t be sucking up to the mainstream media establishment more if you were shining Jeff Zucker’s shoes. The same MSM that had you out to be a sexist, elitist, hate-filled, dream-crushing, dog-hating, money-grubbing wretch.

Yet you come into town whistling their tune. And while the Americans who elected Trump are begging the GOP to drain the Swamp, you wade into the Swamp like Esther Williams in an old MGM musical. 

Your Trump Card

You tweeted this little ditty as part of your hit job parade: “Policies and appointments are only part of a presidency. A president must also unite us, inspire us, and defend our vital institutions.” Where were you last week when the president was signing the First Step Act amid a coalition of different races and political stripes? When has the door to the Oval Office ever been this open? When has a president done so much in so little time to lift so many boats of so many minorities and women? When in recent memory have so many been inspired to start new businesses?

Right now, he is fighting for our most vital institutions: our sovereignty and the rule of law. 

Where are you in that fight? (Murdered California Sheriff’s Deputy Ronil Singh watches and awaits an answer.)

Now, does Donald Trump play the “role” of President of the United States like you see in the movies? You say you were hoping to see him grow into a Washington, or Jefferson or Lincoln. You forget: Lincoln was absolutely hated by official Washington. Scorned as an unkempt, ill-mannered, story-telling rube, unfit for the office. A clumsy orangutan who needed establishment figures around him to keep him in his place. 

Who was Lincoln’s predecessor? James Buchanan. What a dashing, gentlemanly figure he cut. Nobody called him a rube. Nobody called him uncouth. James Buchanan waltzed us straight toward the Civil War. 

No, President Trump doesn’t act “presidential,” by your definition. He’s just Donald Trump. And yeah, he does still act with the swagger of Manhattan tycoon and saltiness of a New York construction hard hat. And yeah, he’s worth a cringe or two a day. But he’s authentic. He’s not playing a character. He’s not Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren pretending to be a regular beer-swigging average Jane, using words like “ginormous” in Instagram videos. 

As said often on The Stream, Trump is surrounded by people of faith who pray for him and with him, as he carries a burden none of us can imagine, in an atmosphere more hostile and hateful and contrary than any since the Civil War. You did not help matters. Face it. As your niece says, your actions were “disappointing and unproductive.”

As You Take Your Senate Seat

But now you’ve been sworn in. Let’s leave your last take on the cutting room floor. No doubt, you have the experience and the chops to be a tremendous asset to the nation. The guy who saved the 2002 Winter Olympics and so many businesses is a good mind to have around when trying to fix our nation’s problems. That guy we can use. The character, not so much. 

As I watched today’s swearing-in ceremonies I couldn’t help but think back to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. That classic film turns 80 this year, but remains as timely as the day it was released.
Mr Smith Goes to Washington - Smith and Paine - 900

The path of two senators lays before you.

I pray you will take to your duties like Jimmy Stewart’s Senator Jefferson Smith, and fight for what is right, fighting for the people back home.

God help you if you chose the path of the perfectly coiffed, perfectly established, Senator Joseph Paine. A senator presented as a man of impeccable character and style, the epitome of the public servant, but in truth corrupted and controlled. A frontman for the powerful forces that control our politics, with an ear for the elites but deaf to the concerns of average Americans. 

I simply ask this one thing: As Senator Paine ultimately found himself unworthy, be worthy of the office.



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