If you want to talk tone-deaf, there’s tons of evidence of it in the failed and politically unwise impeachment saga.
Leave aside the president of the United States, unapologetic after being caught in cynical self-dealing and pressuring a foreign government, that of Ukraine, to do his political dirty work.
The bit players also have not exactly covered themselves in glory. The speaker of the House argued originally and correctly that impeachment was unwise in timing, because of the upcoming election, but Nancy Pelosi found herself carried along by enthusiasm in her party ranks.
There were frantic efforts to clothe the initiative in historical symbolism, like signing the House resolution beneath the portrait of George Washington in the Capitol. Maybe a bit tone-deaf there.
On the GOP side, Exhibit A is the Louisiana Republican Party’s central committee, which waved through party official Mike Bayham’s resolution attacking Mitt Romney.
“We’ve got a guy who had the honor and privilege of being a nominee of the party — he’s trying to tear Trump down as a candidate and a president,” Bayham told this newspaper’s Elizabeth Crisp. “I don’t know if it’s a personal issue, vanity or whether it’s that Trump succeeded where he failed.”
Of course, Romney will lose no sleep over this attack, however personal. Bayham represents the view of the Louisiana GOP, which is — like the Louisiana Democratic Party — a relatively narrow sect compared to the hundreds of thousands of party voters.
The party committee members are unpaid and elected in legislative districts around the state every four years, but typically those are very-low-turnout affairs where the voters know the candidate; quite often, these are uncontested, or filled by appointees after the fact when no one runs.
It is not as if they are unanimous in opinion but typically in both parties’ central committees the members are party activists of like mind, conservative in the GOP and more liberal among the Democrats.
But it’s particularly piquant that Bayham and others are turning on Romney, the nominee in 2012 and now a U.S. senator from Utah. The folks back home are not going to turn on Romney: “I think that would be just a mistake to go down that road,” Republican Gov. Gary Herbert told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Every time we don’t agree with somebody’s vote or their statement they make, are we going to censure them?”
This sturdy common sense of the heartland does not touch zealots. It’s a fascinating study today of how Louisiana Republicans — many originally attracted to the party by social conservative messages — ignore the failings of the new leader.
Indeed, if there’s a false idol in American politics today, it’s Donald Trump.
Idols require worshippers and the Bayham resolution is interesting as a type. But it’s not the only false note in Romney’s voting to remove Trump from office for Oval Office misdeeds.
Yes, Romney lost to the political talents of incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012. Certainly, though, he also made ill-timed remarks and gave tone-deaf speeches that hurt his cause.
Like, say, the heavy note of self-congratulatory suffering when he said in the Senate that he expected abuse for his highly principled vote.
Well, mess with Donald Trump, and you won’t get Twitter Valentine cards. If it is typical of the political class to worry first about how their actions are received, it’s particularly tone-deaf to worry aloud.
Still, Mitt Romney is by any standard a class act by comparison to the president, much less his other abusers like Donald Trump Jr. The Louisiana Republican Party is not going to change that reality.
Email Lanny Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.