Don't Wilt, Mitt | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Private Eye

Don't Wilt, Mitt



I can barely imagine what it would be like to have lived Mitt Romney's life. As son of the former governor of Michigan, George Romney, his childhood was far different than mine. That's easy to measure since I don't even fully own a single home, let alone several, and I'm yet to bank my first billion. As well, I've done my damnedest not to become a politician nor benefit from the financial loss of others—a certain consequence of hedge-fund ownership that makes tons of money for a measurable few at the losing expense of an unmeasurable many. Mitt made lots of dough—billions—via his position in Bain Capital, with a goodly sum of the Bain portfolio being dedicated to hedge funds.

An easy example of how a hedge fund works is this: For more than 100 years, The Salt Lake Tribune was locally and privately owned. It employed hundreds of people, owned property in the city, kept politicians on their toes and orchestrated changes to our city and state. Fast forward to the past couple decades when, after all measure of jumps and starts, the Tribune fell into the hands of Alden Global Capital. Alden then began to disassemble the Tribune's assets to the benefit of Alden but to the detriment of Tribune employees and this community. Somewhere, in the fancy gin joints of Manhattan, the Alden Global team was sucking cigars, toasting Gibson martinis and eating fat steaks.

This is a fundamental flaw of the Wall Street investment community. It has no conscience, and it cares not if what they do creates jobs or destroys them so long as a buck is made. A consequence of that happened recently when private individuals motivated by user communities on Reddit took it upon themselves to upend the price of GameStop shares by shopping it up ever upward to their benefit and at the expense of traditional Wall Street that prefers to keep such rewards in their own dominion.

This is where Mitt Romney comes in. For all his bopping back and forth on issues, for all his flopping in the wind, for all his timidity, the Utah Republican senator doesn't have a fully developed Wall Street conscience. He has a pretty steady moral compass. I don't agree with where it often leads him, but I do believe, inside him, a real heart beats.

Mitt is no Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or even Mike Lee, for that matter. Each of those so-called men are fast becoming known for their consistent cowardice. Each of that trio is a bit "C-3PO"—afraid of anything that is counter to self-preservation—and in the case of Cruz and Rubio, also embraces a dash of Ephialtes—the infamous traitor to the 300 Spartan Greeks who fought the Persians to a standstill at Thermopylae. For the past 2,000 years, no Greek mother has named her child Ephialtes. No future American mother should name her child Rafael (Ted's Christian name) or Marco. Mike is a hard name to shun—I even have a son named Michael. Therefore, we should ban the name Lee.

The name Mitt is safe, for obvious reasons. Mitt needn't worry, though, as he is not a traitor, despite what some people in the deep, dark recesses of Utah's GOP currently claim. His crime apparently is that he is the bipartisan mediator between his party and the agenda of President Biden. Forget the past. All of our shared past has led us to the juncture at which Biden and Mitt are sharing center stage. What happens in the next couple of weeks, as the Senate hears prosecution witnesses (there better be witnesses!) in the House impeachment case against Donald J. Trump, will set the course for our democracy for generations to come. Either we save democracy, or we don't. Mike Lee has already decided we don't even have one now. Mitt believes otherwise.

I've nothing in common with Mitt. I met him once, but he wouldn't remember, because it was only a nod on my part. I only remember because Mitt returned with that befuddled look of his—the one that posterized him when the photographer caught him eating frog legs with Donald Trump. On the other hand, I also recall that George Romney was not a disgusting name where I grew in Bingham Canyon—a community of union men and multi-ethnic immigrant laborers.

George, born a Mexican citizen, would have made a pretty good Democrat today. He was a strong advocate of the civil rights movement and a staunch moderate in a party that was beginning the glacial shift to the far right. He grew the Michigan state government that runs counter to what is left of today's GOP—which may help explain Michigan being a blue state. The senior Romney also had a failed run at the presidency, a run upended, in part, due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. He had been a former supporter of the war, though, and attributed his about-face to having been "brainwashed." Take solace, George—many of your once-proud party also have been brainwashed.

Mitt knows that. Mitt knows Americans share a middle and common ground. Erase the stigmatizing issues of the fringe, left or right, and you find the real essence of the American state. Mitt can encourage others to have courage, if nothing else. In a couple weeks, a new GOP will emerge. Perhaps Mitt will become an independent. There is no going back to what used to be the GOP for Mitt, not so long as Donald Trump leads that flock.

The question is, will Mitt be the "White Horse"? Or will he wilt? His dad didn't wilt.

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