Wineke: Mitt Romney votes America’s conscience

Mitt Romney

MADISON, Wis. — There was just one serious question posed for Wednesday’s impeachment vote and that was how former Republican presidential candidate would come down.

Mitt Romney, Utah’s new United States Senator, voted to convict.

In a normal world, that wouldn’t qualify as a profile in courage. Romney is rich. He is never going to run for president again. He doesn’t face reelection for four years and Utah considered him a super-hero even before he ran for the Senate.

But this isn’t a normal world. This is the world of Donald Trump. And President Trump doesn’t want only to win; he brooks no opposition.

It took only a matter of minutes – if that long – for Rona McDaniel, chair of the Republican Party, to issue a tweet insisting the president “did nothing wrong” and that Romney is off base.

McDaniel is a paradigm of Republican support for Trump. Before he took office, she was known as Rona Romney McDaniel. She is the senator’s niece and a granddaughter of the late George Romney a Republican governor of Michigan.

But Trump considers Romney to be losers so McDaniel was all too willing to discard her family identity. That’s emblematic of her entire party.

Romney had nothing to gain by voting to convict the president What he had to lose was his soul.

In an interview before the vote Romney said “I’ve found in business in particular but also in politics that when something is in your personal interest, the ability of the mind to rationalize that that’s the right thing is really extraordinary. I’ve seen it in others and I’ve seen it in myself.”

It is reasonably clear that Romney will now become a punching bag for the president and for Republicans in general.

Donald Trump Jr. has already demanded that Romney be expelled from the party.

I expect he is just echoing thoughts his father may not yet have spoken out loud. Winning is no longer enough for these people; they want obedience.

My guess is that what they really want is to be loved and respected. That’s evident in almost everything the president says, especially when he seems baffled why his incredible accomplishments haven’t been met with the awe and honor they deserve.

I think that desire for love and respect underlies his baffling need to exaggerate his honest accomplishments and his absolute refusal to give anyone else credit for anything.

One major difference between Trump and Romney is that Romney is actually loved by those who know him and respected by those who oppose him. He may be right or he may be wrong, but, deep down, he seems to know who he is.