- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2019

Conservatives may laugh at Mitt Romney’s oh-so-obvious flirt with mounting a 2020 nomination challenge to President Trump.

They shouldn’t.

The former governor of Massachusetts is now a current U.S. senator from Utah.

OK, you can reread that sentence till the cows come home and it will still say the same thing — the same Mr. Romney sequentially representing two states 2,104 miles apart.

Nothing wrong with that.

In the Ford Mustang or Chevy pickup truck that the multimillionaire Mr. Romney named as his two personal cars, it’s only a 31-hour drive.

That would be across Interstate 70 from, as some may call it, the northeastern bastion of Nixon-Ford-Rockefeller-Bush liberal Republicanism to the former Western bastion of Reagan-Buchanan-Trump conservative Republicanism.

As you undoubtedly recall even though you don’t really want to, Mr. Romney is the Republican who as governor invented and introduced Obamacare to the unsuspecting citizenry of his then-home state of Massachusetts.

That was before there was a President Obama. And before anybody cared.

“Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare,” Mr. Romney later wrote.

Yes, he really wrote that.

Remember that, to win in 2012, every Republican running for everything from a township-council wooden chair to the fine Oval Office leather chair counted on trashing the then-wildly unpopular Obamacare compulsory healthcare law.

Well, that’s when the Republican Party chose to nominate for president the one Republican who couldn’t run credibly against Obamacare.

(Republicans who still limply refer to the GOP as the “stupid party” are simply bereft of a truly adequate pejorative.)

Worse, Mr. Obama ran for re-election on, yes, Obamacare. He won. Mitt flopped, losing the popular vote by 47-51 percent and the electoral college by 206–332. Not quite a blowout — 56 million desperate Americans voted for Mitt.

Before Vice President Mike Pence swore him in Thursday, Mr. Romney showed off his leadership creds by shoveling the stinky stuff all over the GOP’s leader — and America’s president — Donald J. Trump.

“… the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Mr. Romney wrote belittlingly of Mr. Trump in liberalism’s daily sermon, the Washington Post.

No, I’m not exactly clear what that mantle thing means, either.

Whatever it means, it’s a putdown for sure.

Does it matter if for the 2020 nomination Mr. Romney — whose rallies attract supporters by the hundreds — challenges Mr. Trump — whose rallies attract cheering throngs by the tens of thousands?

The first President Bush had an approval rating that incredibly broke 90 percent after Desert Storm, but he lost re-election to the male model of Clintonism in 1992.

Arkansas Bill won in large part because conservative writer Patrick J. Buchanan challenged Mr. Bush for the nomination. And in doing so, he reminded the Republican base that Mr. Bush in four years had expanded government faster than any Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first term.

Mr. Buchanan scared the bejeebers out of the GOP establishment by winning the New Hampshire primary.

Ultimately, King George (Buchanan’s name for Mr. Bush) won the nomination but lost the election.

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Mr. Buchanan delivered his speech about “a culture war going on in our country for the soul of America.”

That speech had the whole convention on its feet cheering approval. The national press a day later called it a disaster.

In that speech, Mr. Buchanan said this of Bill and Hillary: “The agenda Clinton and Clinton would impose on America — abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat units — that’s change, all right.”

“But it is not the kind of change America needs,” Mr. Buchanan said. “It is not the kind of change America wants. And it is not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call God’s country.”

Maybe not. But it’s the change we got.

Is more of that what’s to fear from a Romney win in two years? No, because that’s not likely Mitt’s 2020 vision for America.

But there’s something else in that Buchanan speech to link with Mr. Romney.

Referring to the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Mr Buchanan said, “Like many of you last month, I watched that giant masquerade ball at Madison Square Garden — where 20,000 radicals and liberals came dressed up as moderates and centrists — in the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.”

Would it be too much to fear such a masquerade ball at the 2020 Republican National Convention if Mr. Romney were to prevail?

It’s an old rule of persuasive writing never to end an opinion column with a question.

So I won’t.

Yes, beware Mitt’s mitts on the masquerade convention. The Donald, as we affectionately called him pre-presidency, remains by far the best imperfect unmasked bet.

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