Mitt Romney’s longtime stenographer McKay Coppins has a new book out called Romney: A Reckoning. The book is an airing of silly and surprisingly petty grievances from Utah’s unpopular junior senator, who lost a winnable presidential campaign against Barack Obama in 2012 and is now being driven out of the Senate by his inability to win reelection.
Much of the book details Romney’s growing appreciation of his Democrat colleagues and their policies and political goals, even as he spews invective about many of his Republican colleagues, particularly those with a reputation for advancing conservative ideals.
One of the Democrat goals Romney aligned himself with was the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. As he tells the story through Coppins, he is full of invective for every Republican but himself. He calls Attorney General William Barr “nervous” and “like all the other toadies in the Trump administration.” The entire GOP conference is smarmy, craven, and cowardly, he asserts, since they didn’t agree with his anti-Trump obsessions.
Romney spent the fall of 2019 giving public interviews to left-wing media, in which he complained about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and telegraphing his eventual vote in favor of impeachment. Yet Romney claims to have been shocked that conservatives weren’t elated with his grandstanding.
Prime-time hosts on Fox News, where I’m a contributor, were apparently “treating him with mounting hostility,” according to the book, which adds, “Sean Hannity accused Romney of ‘morphing’ into a ‘weak, sanctimonious Washington, swamp politician,’ and suggested the senator was simply ‘jealous’ of Trump’s myriad successes.”
Romney was hurt by Hannity’s remarks, according to the book, since the host had been a staunch supporter of Romney’s presidential campaign. Romney called up the man described as his “old buddy,” but the call did not go well. Hannity accused Romney of just trying to be liked by left-wing media. Then he asked why Romney wasn’t more outraged by the Burisma scandal, the entire issue that was at the heart of the Ukraine impeachment scandal.
When Joe Biden was vice president and in charge of looking into Ukrainian corruption, his son and his son’s business partner took extremely lucrative board positions with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy concern that was fighting off corruption investigations. The whole arrangement reeked to high heaven, and Trump was impeached for asking about Burisma in a phone call with Zelensky.
What happens next in the book is a shocking admission of profound ignorance from the senator, particularly considering his disdain for his Republican colleagues who did not fall for the impeachment. Romney admits to Hannity that even though he’s been signaling his support of the Democrat impeachment efforts, he actually has no idea what Burisma is. “How do you not know what Burisma is?” Hannity reportedly asks.
The next paragraph is Romney insulting Hannity, calling him jealous and stupid. Let’s observe here that Romney’s stated reason for not liking Trump is personal. He tells Coppins he is quite supportive of the conservative agenda advanced by Trump, but that he doesn’t like Trump because the former president is boorish and insults other people. It is absolutely true that Trump insults people he feels have betrayed him or who otherwise don’t support him. It is unclear why Romney, who has just used a friendly reporter to overload a book with similar insults, is so bothered by Trump doing it in a less passive-aggressive fashion than Romney does.
In any case, learning that Romney didn’t even know what Burisma was in the middle of the impeachment about Burisma that he voted for is not terribly surprising. But proud ignorance is not a virtue, and it’s certainly not principled.