So many things are happening right now – mostly with the actors in question having no clear plan for what they’re doing – that it’s very hard to know where our politics will be a week from now let alone in six months. But there’s one thing we can see clearly and it’s worth noting: top Republican stakeholders are breaking a lot of china right now that will be very, very hard to unbreak. What seems most relevant to me is that almost all of this is being done with no clear sense of an end-game or even a clear plan.
You probably heard about Mitt Romney’s pretty brutal anti-Trump speech today. But let’s take a moment to read through just one passage …
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony. A fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”
Romney won’t ever be able to walk that back. Yes, people dismiss a lot of campaign bluster as ‘Well, things get said in the heat of a campaign. blah blah blah.’ But you don’t ever come back from the kind of things Romney said about Trump today.
Now, maybe he won’t want to or need to. But it won’t be up to him. There’s no way to unsay any of this. He’s lashed himself to one trajectory for this campaign. And there’s no going back. Remember, Mitt Romney the GOP’s last nominee for President. Can you imagine pro-Hillary SuperPACs running these passages in ads in October? You don’t have to. I guarantee you it’s already being planned.
Think of it as a stump speech tagline: “Even Mitt Romney says he’s a phony and a fraud who’s trying to trick us.”
Even if you think Romney is a loser and a moron, what does it say if the guy the GOP nominated four years ago says the new nominee is a liar and a fraud who will endanger America?
This is just a single example of a lot of decisions that are getting made right now, things that are being said, that similarly won’t easily be unsaid or undone. And remember, in many respects the biggest deal isn’t the specific statements or actions. It’s that almost all of this is being done without a clear plan for where this goes, what the endgame is, really anything. That creates a wild volatility that can rapidly build on itself.