JACK POSOBIEC: An elegy for Pierre Delecto

If you needed unexpected good news, it has just emerged that 2024 will mark the end of a sordid career: a career belonging to a backstabbing, out-of-touch puppet for special interests.

No, I’m not talking about Joe Biden, though inshallah, that will happen, as well. I mean the career of one Willard Mitt Romney, alias Pierre Delecto, and sometimes known (at least to me) as Serpentinus Willardus, a breed of snake whose aggressiveness is only matched by the harmlessness of its venom. And now that this particular snake has finally decided to crawl back under its rock, I think it’s time we refresh our memory as to why many consider Willard Romney the most useless Republican of the modern age.

Not that everyone will see it that way. Romney’s defenders have always insisted he is a lone holdout of decency – like Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” a lonely bastion of integrity in a den of populist vipers. To his opponents, on the other hand, Willard Romney looks far more like Crispin Glover in the movie Willard: a social malcontent with an affinity for rats.

However, I think weirdly, his defenders are onto something by comparing him to Jimmy Stewart, though not in “Mr. Smith.” Rather, I think Romney most closely corresponds to a much less sympathetic version of Jimmy Stewart’s character in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

I say “much less sympathetic,” because if Stewart’s character had acted like Willard Romney, I’m pretty sure he would’ve missed disastrously trying to shoot the titular bandit, only to then shoot John Wayne’s character in the back the moment he managed to gun down Valance, all while claiming that killing him was done in the name of civility. Naturally, had the movie gone that way, Stewart-as-Romney would’ve been ridden out on a rail, rather than being elected senator. If only.

To really understand what makes Romney so useless, however, you have to ironically go back to his father, the hapless Michigan Governor George Romney, who claimed in his 1968 run against Richard Nixon for the GOP nomination that he’d been “brainwashed” into supporting Vietnam by Lyndon Johnson. This convinced precisely no one, largely because there was no way to view it positively. If it was true, then George Romney was a dolt. If it was false, then he was a liar. Which, apparently, the young Willard saw and immediately thought, “what if I was both?”

Thus, while he now claims to stand for principles and integrity and blah blah blah, the reality is that not since John Kerry has anyone been so fond of clumsy public reversals of previous opinions as Willard Mitt Romney. Start with his performance in his failed Republican 1994 Massachusetts Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy, in which Romney loudly proclaimed that he wasn’t like those other Republicans: he was a pragmatist who was, on no account, “trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”

He would later sound similar notes while running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, this time with success. At which point, the supposedly Republican Romney pushed through a version of healthcare reform which would go on to become the model for Obamacare, itself. Which, somehow, gave him the bizarre idea that he could run for president in a party for whom the limited government legacy of Ronald Reagan was still sacrosanct.

However, all Romney managed to do in 2008 was alienate all his rivals, and somehow lose to the only Republican with a bigger record of knifing other Republicans on the back: the late John McCain, who Romney contritely endorsed at CPAC in 2008, presumably in exchange for an assurance that if McCain lost, it would be “his turn” in 2012.

So let’s talk about what happened, then. After raising so much money that his campaign’s attack machine was unironically referred to as the “Romney Death Star,” Romney still struggled to gain traction in the GOP primary field (largely because Barack Obama had almost literally copied his homework when it came to healthcare), with one “alternative” to him after another rising.

Still, eventually, after losing Iowa to Rick Santorum, South Carolina to Newt Gingrich, and then facing a slow deathmarch against Santorum, Romney grabbed the nomination. But not before he had to make a personal call to beg a certain influencer for the support he needed to bag the crucial Nevada primary: namely, Donald Trump.

Then the cringe began.

Firstly, Romney ran away from his healthcare reform with disavowals so bad they made his father’s “brainwashing” excuses look artful. Then, he tried to appeal to the base by calling himself “severely conservative,” even though that sounds more like something Vox would call an actual effective Republican. Even though the aftershocks of 2008 were still resonating, Romney’s idea of empathy was making statements like “I like to being able to fire people,” and “let Detroit go bankrupt.”

Speaking of lack of empathy, he even picked Paul Ryan as his Vice President, even though Ryan’s plan for retirement reform was being characterized at the time as “throwing granny off a cliff.” After one good debate against a clearly unprepared Obama, he tried to virtue signal in the follow-up Town Hall debate by claiming that when he wanted to hire a female executive, his team brought him “binders full of women,” which made him sound like a sex pest in Thailand rather than a politician. And, of course, he claimed that Russia was America’s greatest enemy, prompting Obama to justifiedly snark, “The 1980’s called and are asking for their foreign policy back.”

Of course, he lost. Badly. Working class Americans were never going to vote for a candidate who talked to Americans like an unfeeling CEO who shut down the local factory and outsourced it overseas. It wasn’t a failure of messaging for Willard to sound like that; it was one of the few moments he was honest. That’s exactly who he was, and is. It’s the reason why one of his most infamous gaffes of the 2012 campaign was that he’d never win the “47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax.” In other words, for Willard, if you weren’t rich, you weren’t worth talking to.

But while plenty of failed presidential candidates have left behind legacies worth celebrating, Romney would instead opt to once more follow in John McCain’s footsteps and sabotage his own party. Except unlike McCain, Romney couldn’t stay consistent. For example, he tried to become a figurehead for the #NeverTrump movement, but then fell on his metaphorical knees and begged for the job of Secretary of State when Trump unexpectedly won.

Then, he accepted Trump’s endorsement to run for the Senate in Utah, only to become the first Senator to vote against a president of his own party in an impeachment trial after Trump was retroactively impeached over the January 6th protests. When Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s most hysterical #NeverTrumper called him “spineless,” Romney testily replied to her under the laughable Twitter alias Pierre Delecto that she should “take a breath.” That she knew it was him was due entirely to the fact that the only thing Pierre Delecto did on Twitter was tell various conservative media figures to stop being so mean to Mitt Romney. It was basically “Please Clap,” the Twitter account.

And now that it’s obvious that not only is no one clapping, but many are desperate to end his career, Romney is finally taking his ball and going home. But in his statement on the subject, Romney might have finally said something correct: “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders.”

Indeed it is, Willard, but as a member of that generation, you shouldn’t expect us to treat you kindly, no matter how many of our Twitter threads you reply to. Not only did your incompetence as a campaigner empower the ascendant authoritarian Left, but your constant backstabbing of your own party has aided and abetted their stranglehold on power. That it did not do more damage is not a testament to America’s resilience, but purely to your ineffectiveness.

In short, this is the reason Mitt Romney is the most useless GOP politician: Even when it comes to betraying his own party, and arguably betraying America itself, he still can’t do anything right.
 

Image: Title: Mitt Senate
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