- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Mitt Romney, once upon a time — once upon a Massachusetts time when his barely Republican credential stood apart from the multitude of Bay State liberals as something of a fresh difference — used to have a political career.

Now the senator from Utah is the butt of jokes.

And honestly, this is something he’s brought upon himself.

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Romney, to hardcore conservatives, has always been a bit of a RINO — Republican In Name Only. But among party highbrows, he was an estimable guy.

He was a guy the Republicans turned to for help — a guy his fellow Republicans could depend upon to provide help.

“If Scott Brown pulls off an upset in the race to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate, he may have Mitt Romney to thank,” The Daily Beast wrote in 2010. “Largely overlooked in assessing Brown’s prospects: the hidden hand of Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor headlined at a fundraiser for Brown. … And Romney has helped Brown raise money outside the state as well.”

A year later, a New York Times headline read, “Mitt Romney Campaigns Tirelessly, and Not Just For Himself,” above a story about the ex-governor’s political work on behalf of lesser-known candidates.

Romney used to be a guy cast in favorable media lights — even as he opposed one of the left’s most-fawned, Barack Obama, for president.

“Mitt Romney gives more to charity than President Obama, Joe Biden,” Politico wrote in 2012, in a story that described the former governor as “far more generous” than his White House opponents, giving more than 29% of family income to nonprofits in 2011.

Romney used to be someone others described as statesmanly, gentlemanly, diplomatic — a man whose favor was welcome. 

“The former Massachusetts governor has endorsed 33 candidates this election cycle, including many facing competitive primaries,” The Hill reported in mid-2014. “So far, not a single one has lost.”

And then came Donald Trump and Romney lost it. Of course, to heartland conservatives, he never really had it — but when Trump came, he lost his ability to appear like he had it. He abandoned all pretense of hanging with the cream, and instead, dropped knee-deep into the mud.

“Here’s what I know,” Romney said, back in 2016. “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.”

That was just the warm-up.

Romney has since criticized Trump with such vitriolic intensity that he practically serves as the Democrats’ attack dog. Yet he still sought, and received, Trump’s endorsement for Senate in 2018. Who’s the real fraud? The real phony?

Romney’s newest strategy to resist this president has taken a decidedly different tack. He was busted for using a secret Twitter account with the handle of Pierre Delecto as a means of pushing back against Trump. “C’est moi” — it’s me — he blithely told The Atlantic when asked.

And boy, the fun Twitter is having.

There’s the meme of Romney in the signature pink hat of the recent women’s rights movement, beneath the brief message, “#PierreDelecto will lead it.”

There’s the meme of a woman tapping her fingers together in anticipation, beneath the message, “It’s like Christmas morning waiting for Trump to wake up and start tweeting about #PierreDelecto.”

There’s the grainy photo of Romney beneath this imagined conversation on Twitter that went like this: “‘I’m not paying for this baguette.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘No. And what are you going to do about it?’ The door swung open. The very molecules in the room ceased moving. #PierreDelecto had arrived.”

There are hundreds more. Literally — hundreds.

Such is the life of Romney. From statesman and dignified politician — to rabid, ranting anti-Trumping hack — to the butt of Pierre Delecto jokes. And he’s got nobody to blame but himself.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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