Robert Gehrke: How is it that the only Republican with a conscience and courage is Mitt Romney?

Robert Gehrke

We’re missing something in our Congress today — maybe it’s conscience or maybe it’s just courage.

But how else is it, when President Donald Trump is blatantly abusing the power of his office for political gain, it’s Mitt Romney, of all people, who seems to be one of the few Republicans willing to actually say it is wrong?

This is the same Mitt Romney who has been constantly ridiculed throughout his political career for being weak and wavering.

I’ve frankly never been a fan of Mitt. But now we have a Congress where he is a voice in the wilderness, nearly the only Republican senator with the clarity or common sense or principles to say what should be evident to anyone but the most deluded partisan.

When Trump called on China last week to investigate Democratic front-runner Joe Biden or when he withheld hundreds of millions of aid from Ukraine while asking them to do the same, Romney responded that it “strains credulity to suggest that [Trump’s request] is anything other than politically motivated.”

“By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” Romney tweeted.

In typical fashion, Trump responded by unleashing one of his churlish Twitter tirades, branding Romney a “pompous ‘ass’,” rubbing Romney’s nose in his 2012 election defeat and the humiliation of being taunted with the Secretary of State job.

Of course Trump, who has been coming unraveled for weeks, couldn’t stop there.

He said he was “hearing” that Utahns were considering their vote for Romney “a big mistake,” called Romney a “fool,” and tacked on the hashtag “#IMPEACHMITTROMNEY”.

Senators can’t be impeached, so add that to the list of things Trump doesn’t know. He also probably doesn’t know that Romney won his Senate seat with 63% of the vote, while Trump did worse in the state than any Republican since Thomas Dewey in 1944.

It’s Trump’s default. He has used his thumbs and phone to smear filth all across what should be the most respected office on the planet. This president attacks, insults, berates and bullies. His followers lap it up with delight and beg for more.

Surely Romney has had many run-ins with trolls and he can handle things himself. But he shouldn’t have to. And yet no one backed him up. The silence from his colleagues — especially his fellow Republicans in the Utah delegation — has been remarkable.

Then there’s Rep. Chris Stewart, who has been making the cable television rounds as Trump’s stooge, putting the president ahead of principle and regurgitating every feeble excuse the White House spoon-feeds him. It’s embarrassing to watch.

Stewart was so feckless that, when asked about Trump’s attacks on Romney, he dodged, saying, “They can settle their differences.” There was no defense presented — not that Romney isn’t a “fool,” or an “ass,” or that Romney shouldn’t be impeached or that maybe the president of the United States should grow up and act like an adult.

When The Tribune contacted Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. John Curtis and Rep. Ben McAdams to ask what they thought about Trump’s attacks, only one responded — McAdams, the Democrat.

“National security is not partisan,” McAdams said. “Like Senator Romney, I believe our leaders should put country first ahead of their own personal, partisan agenda.”

On Monday, Vanity Fair cited sources saying some big-dollar Republican donors are urging Romney to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. Romney nixed that idea, according to the report, believing (correctly) that taking on Trump’s rabid GOP base is a fool’s errand and that it is more valuable for him to stay in the Senate.

And he’s probably right. Because in a party overflowing with sycophants and cowards, Romney surprisingly seems to be one of the very few Republicans with the sense to not simply excuse the misconduct and the courage to not cower before this bully president.