RUSH: I have been alleging, alluding to the Mitt Romney piece, and I want to dissect this very briefly, and not so much as to go after Romney, but rather what Romney represents. Romney represents the greatest blown opportunity in modern American politics. Romney represents the 25-year-old Republican establishment. He also represents the Never Trumpers, which are part of the out-of-touch Republican and in some cases conservative establishment. They are so out of touch and they’re so focused on things that are not relevant today that were 25 or 30 years ago. They have been unable to adapt.
They’re still screaming, “But what about what we think is important?” for the past 25 years. We’ve gone long past it. Whether that’s good for bad is irrelevant for the moment. I remember, to set this up, the 1992 campaign. One of the ways — and I myself engaged in this. It was thought that if people would just learn about the massive character defects of Bill Clinton, that no way would they elect him president because, at the time, it was widely believed that character was the most important qualification.
I remember reading to you from the Federalist Papers, James Madison describing exactly why character was paramount in a president, in a chief executive of the United States. Without character and without the required morality stemming from a belief in God, that there is no way the job could be properly performed. Now, I’m paraphrasing greatly with that. But the point is that character in the chief executive was a central qualification for the founders.
So back in the campaign of ’92 and all throughout the Clinton presidency we harped on the deficiency in character. When he would show up in the Oval Office after a jog sweaty, in ball cap and T-shirt — in the Oval Office! — with a bunch of floozies hanging on his arm posing for pictures, we said, “This is disrespectful to the office!” The American people said, “Pfft you!” When the Lewinsky stuff came up, we thought the American people would finally see what a character defect he had. In fact, in the ’96 campaign, there’s Bob Dole out there, and one of his major campaign phrases is, “Where’s the outrage?”
What he meant was, “Why aren’t people outraged over the character deficiencies of this guy?” Everybody knew that he had cheated on his wife who knows how many times, the Whitewater stuff. He was a walking character defect — and you know what? Even though it was all true, it didn’t matter. So thus began a bunch of analysts trying to figure out, “Why, all of a sudden, does character not count with voters when choosing to elect or support a president?”
Well, in 2016 crowd and the Never Trumper crowd and the conservative literature crowd, they’re still back in those days. They still believe that the No. 1 way to overcome Cortez or Pelosi or Obama is with character. Good manners. Articulate. Compassion. Where are they? What kind of a factor is it, really? We can sit here and lament the fact that it doesn’t seem to be an important thing to a lot of people anymore. But that does happen to be the fact.
It doesn’t mean you abandon it. Don’t misunderstand. It doesn’t mean you throw people overboard and yourself. But when the objective is winning elections and if something comes along and doesn’t matter. And here comes Donald Trump, and there is nobody even the people that vote for him gonna tell you he’s a paragon of virtue. He’s a paragon of some kinds of virtues, but he’s not a paragon of character, and there’s nobody in the world who expects him to be and nobody voted for him hoping he would be.
It wasn’t the slightest bit of a factor for people who voted for him. Because the situation on the ground, the reality of life in America is far more dangerous. Stopping Hillary Clinton was paramount. There’s nothing else that mattered. There was nothing else that got even close to mattering. Stopping Hillary Clinton and the continuation and the intensification of the Obama agenda meant saving this country.
Well, the Romney crowd thinks that’s laughable. Country’s never threatened. America doesn’t need to be saved. America is America. There’s nothing that’ll ever happen to America, certainly not internally. And they think the idea that America’s in some kind of crisis is literally laughable. And they think you’re a kook if you think so. Many of them proudly announce they voted for Hillary, they were so repulsed by Donald Trump!
Well, it’s with all of that as the foundation that Romney wrote this silly op-ed of his. In which he tried to say, you know, some of the Trump policies are really good, but I can’t support him because the guy is such a reprobate. Well, none of us is clean and pure, none of us is impeccable. I don’t care what image any of us have created for ourselves and I don’t care what buzz we’ve got the media reporting, there’s no a one of us that does not have character defects.
The idea that superior people are defined by their character and nothing else is one of the greatest political lost opportunities because these people are — in fact, I actually think this devotion to character they have is simply an excuse. It’s simply a way for them to constantly say they are better people than Trump because the most amazing thing — and I say this to anybody who will listen — these are people, the conservative intelligentsia, the conservative Never Trumpers, the conservative intellectuals, they have devoted their lives ostensibly to the implementation of conservative ideas because of their importance, because they work, because they’re good for America.
And here for the most part they are watching the things they’ve devoted their lives to be implemented, and they hate it! And they’re opposing it! And they’re trying to stop it! And it doesn’t make any sense. That’s the foundation from which Romney wrote this silly little piece of his.
RUSH: So the usual suspects are out, they’re praising Romney’s op-ed in the Washington Post. The Never Trumpers just thought it was great. And based on the people praising it, should have been the first sign from you that this is suspicious. Now, Romney’s premise is that Trump’s character is more important than his accomplishments or his principles.
It’s what we tried to say about Clinton. It didn’t work then. Now, we can lament that it didn’t work and we can wish and hope that character mattered. But, frankly, what would you rather have right now? Obama’s character was said to be impeccable, folks. I mean, let’s just cut to the chase. Obama’s character was unassailable. And by character, I mean, the guy wasn’t a philanderer, he lied, yeah, but they were political lies and you know how people look at political lies.
But in terms of being a rogue or being a dubious kad, he wasn’t. And the guy was just as destructive as anybody we’ve had in the Oval Office in terms of policy. And that’s what these people can’t get past. They look at Obama as the model! Well, the problem is that most Republican voters these days do not accept this premise that Trump’s character is more important than what he’s doing. Because what he’s doing trumps everything as far as his voters are concerned, and Romney cannot fathom this, nor can the Never Trumpers.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that a lot of Trump voters find his character, his tweeting and his direct, on-point talk at people as part of his virtue. The guy’s willing to say it like it is. The guy’s willing to get outside the normal political boundaries and call these people out, and we’ve been wanting that. And not to be gratuitously attacking, just tell the truth about it to people. To some people this is a character virtue. It isn’t a defect.
But to people like Romney and the Never Trumpers, it’s get the vapors time. They want him to tweet less, they want him to speak less. But these people are just oblivious. They are 25 years behind times. It’s almost as though it’s a self-promoting thing. “We are better than Trump. We’re smarter than Trump. We have better character. We should be the ones being listened to.” It’s a sign of all the division in the party that, man, if it weren’t there, we could really be scoring some big gains.