If You Wanted a Romney, Why Did You Elect a Trump?

By | July 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Do you recall the Obama-Romney debates before the 2012 election? Romney won the first debate, when Obama was not his usual eloquent (well, glib) self. But things changed for the second debate. Candy Crowley of CNN was chosen as “moderator” ‒ that is, referee. But she chose to abandon her neutrality and jump into the fight.

ROMNEY: I ‒ I think interesting the president just said something which ‒ which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It ‒ it ‒ it ‒ he did in fact, sir. So let me ‒ let me call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

The transcript seems equivocal, but the impression at the time was all too clear: Crowley caught Romney in a serious misstatement, perhaps even a lie.

Crowley abandoned her job as referee and started punching Romney. But in fact, what she said was incorrect ‒ and Romney was correct. CNN recognized this fact with a correction the next day, which unlike the debate was seen by few. Millions of people were given the fabricated impression that Romney made an incorrect statement, one that was so false that the “moderator” was forced to step in and call him on it.

Many people have commented that Crowley’s blatant partiality went a long way toward convincing them that the mainstream media cannot be trusted. But rather than ruminating further on that obvious fact, I would like to look at this key event from another viewpoint: What did it reveal about Mitt Romney? Yes, he was right all along. But so what? He failed to get his point across to the vast majority of viewers ‒ and voters.

Even worse, he appeared before the world as unable to stand up for himself and his beliefs. If he was too weak to defend himself against Candy Crowley, how could he stand up against hostile world leaders? Russian leader Putin? Chinese leader Xi? North Korean leader Kim? The Iranian ayatollahs? The “caliph” of ISIS?

I was so disappointed by Romney’s lack of response to Crowley’s false accusation that I spent days going over what I might have said in his place. Finally I gave up my attempts at a more witty, more stinging response. I went ahead a voted for Romney. But not because I believed he would be a strong leader ‒ simply because I believed he would do less damage to America than Obama would.

I forgot about my Quixotic efforts to frame a stronger response to Crowley’s flagrant interference. But then Donald Trump appeared on the political scene. Again and again, he has been severely criticized for his verbal attacks on critics, especially media critics. And yes, I agree that some of his remarks ‒ for example, his rebuke of Mika Brzezinski ‒ were over the top and in bad taste. What does her facelift, if indeed she had one, have to do with the world of politics?

Of course, those who condone disgusting remarks about Trump are in a poor position to criticize anything Trump says. Pose with a mock-up of Trump’s severed head? Accuse Trump of having sex with his daughter, or with Putin? Applaud Hollywood “personalities” who blabber about assassinating Trump? People with the sensitivity and refinement of barnyard animals have no right to criticize anyone at all.

All this reminds me of a revealing Trump quote:

We have heads being chopped off because they’re Christian in the Middle East, we have borders where people are being killed, the world is cracking up ‒ and they’re worried about my “tone.”

If I have a choice between people like Romney and Obama, who aren’t sure what to say but say it smoothly, and people like Trump, who know what needs saying but say it roughly, I’ll take Trump with all his negatives every time. And if the choice is between Trump and Hillary, who doesn’t know what to say and still says it haltingly, well, that is no choice at all.

People come as packages. We can either take them or leave them. This is not a Chinese restaurant menu ‒ we can’t take one characteristic from column A and one from column B, and construct our ideal candidate. I voted for Trump, despite his rough manner, because I believed he had the strength to lead America in a dangerous world. No, that’s not right. I voted for Trump because of his rough manner, though sometimes it is too rough. I saw it as evidence that Obama’s glib smoothness was a thing of the past. I saw it as evidence that Obama’s empty charm would be replaced by Trump’s rough competence.

In an ideal world, there would be ideal candidates. But this world is far from ideal, and there is no ideal candidate. And even if there were, he or she would demand ideal voters, which surely leaves me out. In this world, we must make difficult choices between less-than-ideal alternatives.

Picture Trump up on the stage in place of Romney. Picture what he would say, and how he would react, if the “referee” jumped into the fray and punched him in front of an international audience. Would he stand there like Romney, virtually mute, unable to react, much less to display righteous indignation? Or would he react strongly ‒ and very likely overreact? What would this demonstrate to potential enemies? Punch me, and I’ll punch you harder. Not a bad message to a dangerous world.

Trump’s mother was born on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland. The motto of Scotland is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which is usually translated “No one attacks me and goes unpunished.” Scots often render it informally as “Who dares meddle with me?” Not a bad motto in a dangerous world.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

www.stolinsky.com

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