As everyone knows by now, President-elect Donald Trump is considering Mitt Romney to serve as his Secretary of State. This development is not sitting well with some of Trump’s most vocal advocates.
Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, and even former Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, have made public statements against the idea. They’ve mirrored the sentiment of much of Trump’s base, in believing that Romney’s public remarks against Trump’s candidacy (back in March and beyond) should disqualify the former GOP presidential nominee from being part of the administration.
Romney’s high-profile, scathing Utah speech was viewed by many Trump supporters (and even non-supporters) as act of treachery. Romney called Trump “a phony” and “a fraud.” He said Trump’s promises were “as worthless as a degree from Trump University.” He claimed that “dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark,” and pointed to his “bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”
It was by any measure a brutal critique — one that could have easily derailed a presidential campaign in any other election year. But it didn’t. Trump won, and the notion of Romney being rewarded with a spot in his administration strikes many among the Trump faithful as absurd. In fact, a member of Trump’s transition team recently told Fox News’s Ed Henry that people within the president-elect’s inner circle want Romney to publicly apologize to Trump, before being seriously considered for the job.
Some suspect, based on the vindictive nature that Trump displayed at times during the campaign, that Romney isn’t really under serious consideration in the first place. They think that Trump is building Romney up, just to tear him down — revenge for what happened back in March. But if that’s not the case, and Trump is holding true to his promise to put capable people in important positions in his administration, should Romney apologize?
The answer is no. Maybe even a hell no.
Back in March, I believe Romney was standing on principle when he spoke out against Trump. Like many, he witnessed Trump’s outrageous conduct, resented his dishonesty, and felt that the candidate was a potential danger to the country. Unlike many, however, he actually did something about it. He spoke out. He sounded the alarm. He refused to endorse or normalize a man who he honestly didn’t believe was fit for the presidency. That’s not treason, as some have suggested. That’s patriotism.
If the interest in Romney is sincere, Donald Trump is also demonstrating patriotism. Trump said countless times throughout the campaign that, as president, he would put America First. What better way of proving that than overlooking someone’s personal feelings toward him, and putting that individual (who’s a highly competent leader and manager) in an important position of power, from which to serve his country?
It’s even possible that, on some level, Romney’s show of principled opposition actually earned Trump’s respect. Trump may have not appreciated it at the time (in fact, I’m sure he didn’t), but he might have admired it. Maybe that act of defiance has even been a factor in his consideration for Secretary of State. After all, if you were running a business, who would you have higher regard for: a loyal friend who would say whatever you wanted them to, or a conflicting, competent voice who isn’t afraid to tell you that you’re wrong?
If that’s the case, an apology from Romney should be the last thing Trump should expect or even want. And if Trump’s supporters have a problem with that, aren’t they the ones not putting America First?
Of course, I could be wrong about where this arrangement is headed. If the condition of an apology is placed on Romney, it would only validate the widely held belief that Trump’s ego always come first. And if Romney were to actually extend an apology, it would reveal him to be a man of deep insincerity, who indeed had ulterior motives for opposing Trump in the first place.
If either of these things happen, add me to the list of people who don’t think Romney should fill the position.