Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2012, reminded Americans this week that, once upon a time, there were people of principle in the GOP. Like the many Republican leaders in 1974 who urged President Richard Nixon to resign because of his crimes, Romney assessed the impeachment case against President Donald Trump and, following the facts and his conscience, declared the leader of his party guilty of abusing the powers of his office.
The big difference this time around was that, unlike those Republican senators during Watergate, Romney stands utterly alone in his party.
“I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced,” Romney said in a speech before he cast a vote to have Trump removed from office. “I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”
On Thursday, Trump made it clear he believes Romney was not acting from his deep faith or core convictions. In near-blasphemous remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast and later during a meandering one-hour speech at the White House, Trump said Romney was using God as an excuse to do a bad thing; that Romney’s religion was nothing more than a crutch that he leans on because he had failed so miserably in his race for president.
The speaker preceding Trump at the prayer gathering urged the audience to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ and “take political contempt from your heart.” Nevertheless, when Trump got hold of the microphone, he seethed with political contempt – for Romney, for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and for all those who tried to bring him to account for the serious misbehavior that got him impeached. Later, at the White House celebration of his Senate acquittal, Trump continued his rant, calling his accusers “vicious,” “mean,” “corrupt,” “stone cold crazy” and “sleazebags.” He even characterized the top leaders of the FBI as “scum.”
Trump did not sound presidential. He didn’t sound Christian. He sounded like a mafia don, especially with his barely veiled threats of retribution. And this is the leader to whom Congressional Republicans have sold their souls.
All of them, that is, except Mitt Romney, who stands alone with his faith, his principles and his soul intact.
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