I was never much of a Mitt Romney fan. He was too perfect. Too rich. Too handsome. Too moderate. He was also a one-term governor of a northeastern state who gave us Romneycare and who had “evolved” on the pro-life issue.
It was probably his aesthetics (more than his politics) that offended me most. He was the kind of guy who ironed his “dad” jeans. He came across like the kid in the front of the class with his hand perpetually raised (journalists, it has been observed, are more like the kid in the back of the room throwing spitballs). He was obsessed with making sure the “rules” of each debate were precisely followed. He was easily the most hated candidate among his peers.
So we flirted with other candidates. In 2008, John McCain was the cooler and more authentic man. McCain was temperamentally more like us cynical journalists (and, arguably, more conservative than Romney). In 2012, Newt Gingrich was more swashbuckling and intellectual, but Romney managed to win the votes (if not exactly the hearts) of more Republicans. It was, after all, his turn.
So we held our noses. And he lost. When GQ asked me what the takeaway was from the 2012 campaign, I declared: “There are so many lessons, but here’s an obvious one: If the economy is struggling, it’s unwise to nominate a guy so easily portrayed as Gordon Gekko.” When asked by GQ what song best summed up my feelings about the election, I snarkily replied: “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” by Mötley Crüe.
It didn’t end there. In 2015, when rumors began to swirl that Mitt Romney might run for a third time, I wrote: “Aside from a handful of rich political donors, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks this is a good idea.”
Well, it’s time to admit something: I was wrong. I’m sorry for all the criticism aimed at Mitt Romney.
Since his presidential campaigns, it turns out that he was pretty prescient about a lot of things. But even more important, when you compare him to what has followed, it’s clear my standards were way too high. The perfect candidate does not exist. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, “Ronald Reagan is not walking through that door.”
Mitt Romney was a decent, honorable person. It turns out, that’s about all you can ask for these days.
Mitt Romney never kissed a 14-year-old. He never grabbed anybody by the p-ssy, either. We wanted the bad boy, but Romney was the “nice” boy you didn’t want to marry because he wasn’t exciting or flamboyant. He was trying too hard. He didn’t make our palms sweat. And why should we settle? We’re young, after all.
So we kicked him to the curb, only to end up in an abusive relationship with Donald Trump. And now, we would give anything for one more night on the couch watching Turner Classic Movies and sipping decaffeinated tea with this sweet, decent man.
The good news is that we might get another chance. It looks like Romney very well may run for U.S. Senate in Utah if Sen. Orrin Hatch retires.
A few years ago, I might’ve had something snarky to say about this development. Today, I find the prospect utterly exciting.
Our hearts are racing, Mitt.