The publicly-waged tug of war over the president-elect's Secretary of State appointment is getting uglier, and the man in charge is reportedly none too pleased about it. Let's review: In the #NeverRomney camp we have Rudy Giuliani (who is ostentatiously jockeying for the job), Mike Huckabee (whose bad blood with Romney dates back to a long-expired GOP primary), and Newt Gingrich (ditto). Their official argument more or less amounts to, "picking a man who took the lead in bashing Trump would be a slap in the face of his core supporters." What remains unsaid is that the greater slap would be felt by unwavering Trump loyalists such as...these very people, who defended the guy through thick and thin. In short: Really? You're going to let a guy who assumed a starring role in #NeverTrump and reward him with arguably the most prestigious cabinet position available? The pro-Romney argument is that he's a competent, respected, knowledgeable leader with statesmanlike qualities, and who would reassure a great many people both inside and outside the Beltway that Trump's infamous instinct for pettiness and score-settling won't dominate his presidency -- as they did his campaign.
Romney isn't exactly steeped in foreign policy experience -- I've already made my case for installing him as VA Secretary -- but neither are some of the other names that have been floated (second look at John Bolton or Bob Corker, anyone?), plus nobody seriously doubts that he's sufficiently savvy and informed to do a good job. By picking the former Massachusetts Governor, Trump would select someone who could be relied upon not to embarrass the country, while sending the related message that his decisions really are all about the good of the country at this point. Either way, former presidential rivals and current competitors for the position aren't the only people sniping at Romney. Trump's victorious campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made her feelings fairly clear on Twitter last week, then doubled-down on TV over the weekend:
Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state https://t.co/HDtpjeJTc3— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 24, 2016
Meanwhile, here's Trump's first Congressional endorser piling on, unironically ripping Romney as a "self-serving egomaniac." If MSNBC's Morning Joe is to be believed, Donald Trump isn't happy. Before you scoff, "yeah, what the hell do they know?" bear in mind that Joe Scarborough is reportedly back in Trump's good graces, and the two men speak routinely these days:
BREAKING - Sources: Trump 'furious' over Conway comments about Romney https://t.co/Sd4kogEPGz— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 28, 2016
CNN corroborates this buzz, reporting that Trump is "irritated" by the drama and potshots at the man who some believe is the leading candidate to become America's top diplomat in the Trump administration. Conway has dismissed the controversy as untrue and, uh, sexist. Per usual, Allahpundit nails it:
Hard to assess the truth of a claim when you don’t believe anyone involved https://t.co/0YRf5qHXo8— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) November 28, 2016
In this swirl of leaks and counter-leaks, who has real credibility? This factional feuding appears to be playing out via a parade of self-interested leaks. Plus, does anyone seriously believe that Trump -- the king of contrived reality television-style intrigue -- isn't at least somewhat enjoying this? Correct again, Ben Shapiro:
Conway is a gun for hire. Guns for hire do not act on their own. Either the Mercers/Bannon are telling her to smack Romney, or Trump is.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 28, 2016
The notion that Kellyanne Conway, whose White House role remains unclear, is 'going rogue' on the Romney stuff strains credulity. It's possible, but not very likely. If she believed that her boss was genuinely angry about the knocks on Mitt, or sensed that she might be damaging her own positioning by continuing to amplify them across social media and in the press, I can't imagine she'd maintain her current course. Which reminds me of another theory I've heard floating around: Namely, that Trumpworld might be divided on Romney, but Trump himself is more than pleased to just sit back as all of this plays out in the headlines, watch Romney twist in the wind, then plunge the dagger into his erstwhile tormentor with a high-profile snub. That sounds...very Trumpian, indeed, doesn't it? In any case, America, stay tuned for the exciting finale of The Apprentice: State Department.
Parting Thought: David Petraeus is undoubtedly an impressive person in many ways, but considering the scorched-earth campaign Trump just ran against you-know-who, how could he justify picking someone who was actually convicted of mishandling classified information? Unless he's trolling. Which is always a strong possibility.