"President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation"
So trumpeted Willard Mitt Romney in a bizarre op-ed at National Review Online.
This is a strange and dangerous claim. If Obama has betrayed his oath, the only constitutional remedy is impeachment. Is Romney calling for impeachment? Every interview he conducts from now on should start with this question. If Romney believes that Obama betrayed his oath but impeachment is not called for, then he is unsuitable for office -- it would be impossible to trust a chief executive who believes it is acceptable to violate the oath of office. Let's dismiss the inevitable weasel right away: any claim that Romney was merely referring to some general oath of fidelity to the American people should be taken as seriously as Willard's attempt to bond with some Martin Luther King celebrants. Not a dog whistle, exactly. Woof Woof!
If Romney does not believe what he wrote, or if he goes through another shape-shifting episode, he has once again exposed himself as a charlatan willing to do and say anything to advance his political career.
His latest chameleon act is designed to camouflage the former moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts and alumnus of Harvard's Law and Business schools, not to mention the son of a former Senator in the colors of the angry, ignorant populists of the Tea Party movement.
Romney's calculation is clear: to be a Charlie Crist like moderate Republican is a loser in an environment bubbling over with young firebrands like Marco Rubio. But choosing this angry mob to lead is a bad decision. Most swing voters already view the Tea Party crowd as dangerous, intolerant lunatics. Worse, by late 2011, when the Republican primary fight gears up, I suspect the tea party movement will have largely fizzled, leaving a vacuum for adult leadership in the Republican party. They'll never trust Romney with his Obama like health care plan in Massachusetts or his legendary flip-flops on abortion, no matter how much he genuflects to them.
The moment of truth in Romney's NRO op-ed is in the title: "A Campaign Begins." Not "The Battle For America's Soul is Joined." Not "A Call to Arms." No, it's still all about him.
Poor Willard Mitt Romney. He may have been derided as a robot, but within the android shell that left "4.7 million cracks in the plastic ceiling," as Slate's Bruce Reed put it, beats a real human heart. A heart that beats with the desire to be President.
Unrequited love is sad indeed. But Romney's heartache over his vanishing Presidential ambitions is no excuse for poisoning our national rhetoric with outrageous claims. He needs to be held accountable for them.
Programming note: This isn't the first time Romney has waded into extremist waters.
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