President-elect Donald Trump is entitled to nominate anyone he wants to be his secretary of state, including his daughter, Ivanka, or son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He could pick Bozo the Clown, for all I care. Trump owes me no explanation.
But if Trump’s State Department nominee turns out to be Mitt Romney, then it is Romney who has some explaining to do. Not to me, but to the country and the world.
It all comes down to Romney’s words and what he means.
No one, Republican or Democrat, delivered a more scathing indictment of Trump than Romney’s devastating critique in the spring at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum in Utah.
Did Romney believe at the time that no one was listening or cared what he had to say? Because his words were heard around the world.
If Romney is offered and accepts the nomination to State, does he expect us to believe that the words he expressed about Trump did not reflect his sincere beliefs?
And if that’s the case, when Romney steps out on the world stage, should global leaders simply wipe out the meaning of whatever comes out of his mouth out of concern that he will be delivering a rash of deliberately false statements?
The question is inescapable.
Dear reader, repair to a quiet corner and review this media compilation of what Romney had to say in Utah and in a CNN interview about then-GOP front-runner Donald Trump:
“His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”
On Trump’s businesses: “His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who work for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Mortgage. A business genius he is not.”
Trump’s foreign policy: “Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.”
His character: “Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark: He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it. He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader.”
Trump’s wealth: “I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. I predict that he doesn’t give much, if anything, to the disabled and to our veterans. . . . And I predict that despite his promise to do so, first made over a year ago, that he will never ever release his tax returns. Never. Not the returns under audit, not even the returns that are no longer being audited. He has too much to hide.”
Trump’s morality: “Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”
Trump and Putin: “Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, at the same time he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.”
On fear of Trump legitimizing racism and misogyny: “I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”
So, which Donald Trump is it?
Either before or if he decides to take the job, Mitt Romney’s got some explaining to do.