Donald Trump

That Moment Mitt Romney Realized He Wasn't Invited TO Dinner…

but that he WAS dinner.

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During the presidential campaign, no mainstream GOP figure was more outspoken in his criticism of Donald Trump than Mitt Romney. The 2012 Republican Party standard-bearer called Trump, among other things, a "fraud," a "phony," and a poseur who had inherited his wealth. Romney, who publicly flirted with the idea of voting Libertarian due to the presence of fellow former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld on the ticket, counseled anyone thinking about voting for Trump to remember "the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics" of the reality-TV personality.

And then Mitt Romney sat down to dinner with Donald Trump and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus last night. Here's a picture of the gathering, as distributed by CNN's Chris Mooney. I like to caption this "The Moment Mitt Romney Realized He Wasn't Invited TO Dinner but that He WAS Dinner." Many folks, with no real evidence, are theorizing that Trump is toying with Romney, who's been named as a possible secretary of state, the better to humiliate him publicly when Romney is dismissed as a candidate.

Will this be one more shiv from Donald Trump? Who knows.

So far, he's been more than happy to fill his cabinet with insiders rather than outsiders and there doesn't seem to be any real method to his madness. But whatever happens in the end, Romney's willingness to entertain joining Trump's cabinet further erodes all of our beliefs that sometimes principles are more important than partisanship and personal gain. A few months ago, Gallup released its annual survey of confidence in major U.S. institutions and found that we trust such things at historically low rates. For the third year in a row, in fact, the average trust in 14 major institutions (churches, government, the military, etc.) was below 33 percent.

The reason for that isn't because Americans have suddenly become incapable of or unwilling to trust authority. It's because authority, especially as it relates to government, has relentlessly driven down expectations through rotten behavior. Romney's dinner with the president-elect—"main course, Priebus & PEOTUS had prime sirloin a citrus glaze and carrots. Romney lamb chops with mushroom bolognese sauce," according to New York Times reporter Eric Lipton—will only help keep the number of Americans who trust the government to do the right thing for the right reasons at or near historical lows. If that simply turns the United States into a low-trust nation that demands more and more regulation, we'll be sorry.

But maybe, just maybe, what the Trump era will usher in is righteous indignation at pols who have no scruples and a movement to limit government control over our lives, our futures, and our pocketbooks. The two legacy parties have near-record low rates of voter identification and Americans generally refused to come out in large numbers to back either candidate (indeed, it seems to be the case that while Trump only pulled around as many votes as blah Mitt Romney did four years ago, Democrats just couldn't be bothered to hustle to the polls for Hillary Clinton). Beyond lack of voter enthusiasm, there are grounds for cautious optimism that some aspects of a Trump presidency will be OK to better-than-OK. Education, transportation, regulation, health-care, and even foreign policy look somewhat promising, even as the bad stuff (immigration, trade, and more) look truly terrible.

All those outcomes, though, ultimately are in our hands and are on our shoulders, as we will ultimately pay for them, literally and figuratively. Which reminds me: This is Reason's annual webathon, during which we ask people who read our website and watch our videos and listen to our podcasts to consider supporting our efforts with a tax-deductible donation. If you like the way we think about and cover the world, please help us stay strong during 2017.

NEXT: The Guy Who Subpoenaed Reason, Preet Bharara, Met With Donald Trump Today

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  1. Many folks, with no real evidence, are theorizing that Trump is toying with Romney, who’s been named as a possible secretary of state, the better to humiliate him publicly when Romney is dismissed as a candidate.

    I’m lovin’ it!

  2. I wonder how Chris Christie will feel about losing his favored place on Trump’s trophy wall.

    1. He made an attempt at a Trump-style press conference rickroll by timing an announcement of statehouse rennovations to coincide with the timing of a cabinet announcement for Transportation Secretary. It was not that well done, but I gave him points for trying.

      1. Christie selling his soul and getting absolutely nothing in return has to be the lulziest storyline of this election cycle.

        1. He’s good at that. Look at the results of his weight loss surgery.

          1. I forgot about that! Hahaw!

    2. Trump’s son-in-law despises Christie, and is very influential within the administration, so I’m not sure what he was expecting to get out of the deal.

  3. The reason for that isn’t because Americans have suddenly become incapable of or unwilling to trust authority. It’s because authority, especially as it relates to government, has relentlessly driven down expectations through rotten behavior.

    Rotten behavior from authority has been with us, well forever. But with the information age that behavior is now much more difficult to for those in authority to hide. A good example is cop shootings. Have cops really become more rotten? I don’t think so, it’s just now with the ubiquitous spread of cameras everywhere and the ability for that video to go viral at the speed of light, the masses have the means to expose what’s probably always been going on anyways.

    Trust in authority will never be the same.

    1. Somewhere in the last couple decades cops traded out their nightsticks as a default weapon for their guns though.

    2. *Have cops really become more rotten?*

      No, but the citizenry has gotten far more brazen.

  4. It could very well be a “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” sort of thing. Maybe he’s finding a place to put Romney where he can do little damage but make him feel like he got something worthwhile.

    I do like the theory that he’s talking with people that he’s now got on a leash, to give them a bit of room to run and yank cruelly on it. That was obviously what that media stunt was about, and also to show the public yet again that you can’t even get the media to keep a simple promise about an “off the record” meeting.

    South Park went a bit more literal with their depiction, sending Garrison around to demand oral sex from those who mocked him or stood in his way.

    1. What damage could Romney do? No one cares what he thinks.

      1. The Mormon voters in Utah and Idaho who went with that McMuffin guy beg to differ.

        It would benefit Trump to play nice with those folks and give them a token Mormon in his admin.

        1. You’re probably right about having tokens in Trump’s admin. I also have a theory that Trump is getting a bunch of these RINOs to leave their current positions and then fire them after a few months in Trump’s administration. They probably cannot get their other political positions back or are forever finished in politics and then Trump can nominate outsiders. By then, Obamacare- repealed. Taxes- lowered.

          Magic underpants man is a progtard hawk, which is why I never voted for him.

      2. Isn’t Romney actually kind of the no-nonsense businessman that Trump likes to play on TV? Romney probably has a lot of political and business relationships developed that Trump wishes he had access to.

  5. Kudos to Romney for trying to improve the Trump administration, instead of just criticizing it.
    Kudos to Trump for considering candidates outside his inner circle.

    Americans distrust government so much, 127 million voted for more of the same and 5 million voted for serious change.

    1. Makes sense for him to widen that circle as much as possible. He’ll need all the connections he can make.

    2. Can’t say I’m a Romney fan by any means, but anything that keeps Giuliani away from a high profile position should be encouraged

  6. “even foreign policy look[s] somewhat promising,” Nick? I don’t think so.

    http://avanneman.tumblr.com/po…..rom-queens

  7. Never in a million years will Trump choose Romney. However he won’t choose Guiliani either – he realized that he must at least play ball even if he can’t pick all his teammates.

  8. “…supporting our efforts with a theft-deductible donation.”

    Not sure whether original wording or automatic replacement.

  9. I feel like if I had a billions of dollars it would be easier to just retire, instead of continuing to piss in your own mouth.

  10. “To Serve (the) People”

  11. Education, transportation, regulation, health-care, and even foreign policy look somewhat promising, even as the bad stuff (immigration, trade, and more) look truly terrible.

    Funny, that’s what I say about Reason!

    Build that Wall!

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