The Republican Party needs to do laundry. The stains are overwhelming.
After Trump recently supported Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of being a philandering pedophile, Utah golden boy Mitt Romney spoke out.
Less than 24 hours later Trump visited our great state of Utah and stumped for the re-election of Sen. Orrin Hatch. Hatch had defended Trump’s support of Moore, because “[m]any of the things he allegedly did were decades ago.”
Roy Moore, Trump, and now Hatch.
And don’t forget Stephen Bannon, former White House strategist for Trump. Bannon attacked Romney not for something like speaking out against a fellow Republican, but for allegedly dodging the Vietnam draft for religious purposes – to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The irony of denigrating Romney for “draft dodging” while campaigning for a pedophile is rich. Fearing guilt by association, Hatch hurried to respond to Bannon’s bigoted attack. “Steve Bannon’s attacks on Governor Romney and his service are disappointing and unjustified.”
Hatch is right to feel uncomfortable about what his allies said. But he shouldn’t be surprised. When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Bannon’s efforts to influence Utah politics have failed before, and they will fail again. In October Bannon offered support and money to Utah politicians willing to challenge Hatch for re-election. Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson met with Bannon and discussed a possible campaign for senate. Wisely, Matheson has since backed away from that relationship.
If Utahns are unified on one thing, it’s that we don’t like Bannon’s style of politics. Notwithstanding his attack on religious liberty, which is kind of a big deal in Utah, Utahns don’t react well to negative and mean-spirited personal attacks.
Bannon and Trump’s about-face on supporting Hatch for re-election is a direct consequence of the popularity of Mitt Romney, who has signaled an interest in running. Utah Republicans are practically salivating at the thought of a well-spoken, genteel politician who might actually stand up for country and family over party. Salivating.
Hatch’s hurried comments aren’t enough to remove the stench of his partnership with the likes of Trump and Bannon, or the stain of his devotion. Utah deserves to be represented by someone who won’t put party before morality, position before common sense.
Utah deserves to be represented by someone who doesn’t excuse a pedophile because his unpunished depravities occurred years ago. Utah doesn’t deserve Hatch.
It’s time for Romney to get in the ring and punch the other guy out. Why Romney? Because this late in the game, there’s practically no one else who could beat Hatch. Romney has the money, the name recognition, the experience and the resolve. He needs to get off the ropes.
I thought I’d send him a draft of his next speech:
“Sen. Hatch is a preeminent statesman. He has lived a life dedicated to service, toward his country and this great state. (Somehow he has made himself rich in the process, but that’s neither here nor there.) He has led with success on issues like tax reform, DREAMer relief, and health insurance overhaul. Oh, wait ... But judges! He has repaid favors by controlling the nomination process for white, male judges in Utah, even if they haven’t been Republican. Thank you, Orrin!
“But the time has come for Sen. Hatch to return to his home state (Virginia), play with his grandchildren and make beautiful music. Orrin, you don’t want to be remembered as that really old guy. We’ve secured the funding for your namesake building at the University of Utah. You can join the speaking circuit and make even more money for spewing trite truisms about your distinguished career. Your legacy will be bold and strong, but only if you take your own advice, and go home.
“Senator, you promised that the last election would be your last. Don’t make yourself a liar. You first ran on the idea that four terms is one too many. Seven terms is four too many. There is nothing in the universe so important that it will implode if you are not at its center. You can do it. Just go home. I release you.”
Mitt, you’re welcome. You have my permission to use this.
Michelle Quist is an editorial writer for The Salt Lake Tribune who was once a tax fellow in Sen. Hatch’s office and who, at this rate, could see her daughter also intern for the same senator 30 years later.