A Mourning Meditation On Miserable Melancholic Multi-Millionaire Mitt


This map tracks the rise and fall of empires and once-great nations; it hangs on Mitt Romney’s Senate office wall.

As a Mormon, Mitt Romney presumably does not believe in Karma. But maybe, more informally, he could nod glumly at  the non-theological adage that what goes around comes around.

Or, more biblically, does he acknowledge that the scripture says we reap what we sow?

I have a feeling he does, now.

Or he should, at least when his money manager passes on the invoices for the $150K+ monthly he’s paying for 24/7 security for his four houses and his family. 

And what about when he ponders the fact that all his five sons have already quit the GOP.

(The figures come from published excerpts from the forthcoming book, Romney: A Reckoning,, by reporter McKay Coppins.)

I say that because Romney, however anti-Trump he is now, was a significant player in the decades of deindustrialization that stoked the embers and then accelerated the fires of the murderous MAGA rage which has now been aimed at him as well.

Matt Taibbi nailed this record for Rolling Stone when Romney was running for president in 2012:

Romney, front & center, a young Mormon on the make, with Bain colleagues.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street’s greed revolution. He’s not a two-bit, shifty-eyed huckster like Lloyd Blankfein. He’s not a sighing, eye-rolling, arrogant jerkwad like Jamie Dimon. But Mitt believes the same things those guys believe:

He’s been right with them on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let’s-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let’s-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products. Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note.

The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of “creative destruction,” and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America’s rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.

At the same time, Romney has cultivated a trim, disciplined, clean-as-a-whistle persona, which in part would eventually turn out to be for real — but only after ambition was crushed, compromises played out, and it was too late.

Coppins again: “Shortly after moving into his Senate office, Romney had hung a large rectangular map on the wall. First printed in 1931 by Rand McNally, the “histomap” attempted to chart the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful civilizations through 4,000 years of human history. When Romney first acquired the map, he saw it as a curiosity. After January 6, he became obsessed with it.” . . .

More than once, he found himself staring at it alone in his office at night. The Egyptian empire had reigned for some 900 years before it was overtaken by the Assyrians. Then . . . each civilization had its turn, and eventu­ally collapsed in on itself.

Maybe the falls were inevitable. But what struck Romney most about the map was how thoroughly it was dominated by tyrants of some kind . . . . “It’s a testosterone-related phenomenon, perhaps. I don’t know. But in the history of the world, that’s what happens.” America’s experiment in self-rule “is fighting against human nature.”

“This is a very fragile thing,” he told me. “Authoritarianism is like a gargoyle lurking over the cathedral, ready to pounce.”

For the first time in his life, he wasn’t sure if the cathedral would hold.

Coppins speaks of how Romney’s demeanor is “a walking amalgam of prep-school manners and Mormon niceness and the practiced cool of the private-equity set” . . . .

Yes, but he is also the one whose bottomless disdain for 47 per cent of Americans leaked out and likely sealed his campaign’s doom in 2012. How many remember his sneering at the 47 per cent:

“. . . who will vote for the president [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” [Emphasis added.]

Imagine, if you live on Social Security, close to the edge, what you (and the rest of us) would be facing now if Mitt had won that year? New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie spells it out:

. . . Romney also played a significant role in giving Trump mainstream political credibility when he enthusiastically accepted the reality television star’s endorsement in the 2012 Republican presidential primary. And beyond Trump, Romney — in both of his campaigns for president — eagerly and enthusiastically pandered to the right-wing rage and resentment that eventually found its champion in Trump.

This was the Romney who promised to “double Guantánamo” in 2007 and urged “self-deportation” in 2012. It was the Romney who cracked, to a cheering crowd, that “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate” and the Romney who did a great deal to appeal to the most viciously right-wing figures in his party.

Romney was, not unlike the colleagues he criticizes, willing to say whatever it took to win power, even if it meant smearing nearly half the country as essentially unproductive and opening the door to some of the most corrosive forces in American political life.”

But Coppins insists that’s not the whole of Mitt. He wrote:

I had never encountered a politician so openly reckoning with what his pursuit of power had cost, much less one doing so while still in office. Candid introspection and crises of conscience are much less expensive in retirement. But Romney was thinking beyond his own political future.

The Coppins excerpt in The Atlantic leans deeply into the day-by-day agonizing by Romney as he moved crabwise to cast the one Republican vote to convict Trump in the first  impeachment, and then to pack it in for politics. Personally, I don’t think quitting the Senate was that much of a crisis for him. Why not? Mitt says it himself:

Coppins: [Romney] joked to friends that the Senate was best understood as a “club for old men.” There were free meals, on-site barbers, and doctors within a hundred feet at all times.

But there was an edge to the observation: The average age in the Senate was 63 years old. Several members, Romney included, were in their 70s or even 80s. And he sensed that many of his colleagues attached an enormous psychic currency to their position—that they would do almost anything to keep it.

“Most of us have gone out and tried playing golf for a week, and it was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna kill myself,’ ” he told me. Job preservation, in this context, became almost existential. Retirement was death.

All this sounds true; but it was also true of many (most?) of these two congressional clubs one, three, five generations ago. And it’s even more true of senators who are as serious about their religion as Romney is.

I mean golly, what the hay — Mitt could spend his golden years being baptized for the dead in the nearest Mormon temple.

There’s a thought: Maybe he could start on the several hundred thousand Americans who died needlessly after following the crazy non-advice about Covid from the president Mitt then supported Then move on to the opioid victims in the deindustrialized red states. And after all, the temples are very private and secure.

It’s not my theology, so I don’t know whether such a regimen of repentance would mean much to the spirits of the already deceased. But I reckon it would probably be good for at least one tortured living soul, that of the now lame duck junior senator from Utah.

A Mormon temple baptistry in Utah; church photo.



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