Praise to Play Politics
(Yes, I’m going to trademark that title — think Alec Baldwin Trump on SNL style)
Many people have speculated about what Trump’s greatest gift to the American people has been since becoming president-elect. But I have yet to hear anyone talk about his purest gift, the reality TV style transition team. He obviously realizes that we’re in reality TV dead space between the end of Dancing with the Stars and the beginning of The Bachelor and he took concrete action to rectify it. (Yes, I did really just say that) While I do not believe that the transition is more chaotic than any other transition, the frenemy drama between Trump and Romney is something that I cannot let go. I cannot stop thinking about it. At the core, there are two issues worth discussing when it comes to Trump and Romney (neither of which is recalling what has been said in the past)
The first issue is the idea of Praise to Play politics. This is not to say that politicians aren’t always scheming and trying to manipulate each other. Some days it seems like our tax dollars are funding Big Brother: Washington rather than paying people to actually govern the country. I’m sure there has been plenty of retractions, schmoozing, sycophancy and outright lying over the years. None of this is new, nor is it uniquely concerning. (We could have a larger talk about integrity in politics, but that’s a different post) In fact, once it seemed like Romney might be up for consideration for Secretary of State, I assumed he’d come out and say something. I was imagining something vague about unity and country and moving forward. What I was not expecting was the full bodied confidence that he seems to be portraying.
While I could have lived with vague platitudes, the borderline fawning is a little concerning. What’s more concerning is the idea that Romeny needs to publicly apologize. When Hillary become Secretary of State under Obama, I would imagine that some healing conversations had to take place (probably with some wine and Joe Biden moderating) But Obama never asked for Clinton to apologize for the things she had said during the campaign.The assumption was that campaigns are nasty and she had a right to say what she wanted without having to retract it in exchange for a place in the cabinet. That’s not what we’re seeing with Trump and Romney. Is this a huge issue? Probably not, except that it fits very well with the idea we already have of Trump as being narcissistic, petty and a bully. Nobody is forcing him to consider Romeny for SoS, so playing with him like this is completely voluntary. Will this become a pattern for other people in/around the administration? If reporters write an unflattering story, will they have to apologize to be given access? If a foreign leader speaks out, will our relations with that country suffer?
The other question I keep asking is why Romney is putting himself through this. He has plenty of money, a large and happy family, and seemingly does not need to be in the political arena, at least in this way. He could continue to speak and fundraise and not deal with these shenanigans. Some people say that Romney feels like he was robbed of his chance in the White House and this is an attempt to reclaim some of that. That could be true. Others say that he feels like his duty is to try to add some stability to an unpredictable Trump administration. This is the side that I tend to agree with and I do think it is a logic worth considering.
Recently some Democrats have come out saying that they will not work with Trump on anything. Now, I do not think that the Democrats should simply roll over and give Trump whatever he wants. But they also owe us, their constituents, more than another 4 years of obstructionist gridlock. The Democrats need to be unified and focused, but they need to get in the arena and fight, not sit on the sidelines. I want to believe that Romney has a similar belief. If this is truly why Romney is saying nice things about Trump, I’m not sure that I blame him. He’s, potentially, lying to Trump in order to be in better position to help the country. As Romney is a human being, it would be naive to assume that his motives are this simple or this pure, but I have to believe that he has our interests at heart. For once it would be nice to have a politician lie for us, instead of lying to us.