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The Politics of Protective Coloration



We simply call it protective coloration, and yet it's one of the major keys to survival and the evolutionary development for a wide variety of animal, plant and insect species. The chameleons, lizards and walking stick bugs are just a few that stand out—chameleons for their ability to modify their colors to blend in with almost any surrounding; lizards for appearing as the sand and rocks beneath their feet; and the walking sticks for looking like just another innocuous twig.

Masking the identity of thousands of life forms for predators and prey alike has been one of the keys to ensuring that the fittest survives. Protective coloration has also been an essential strategy for politicians who normally love the limelight, but try to blend in with the floral curtains when their survival is at stake. If there was any time for Utah's congressmen to seek invisibility, it has been the last six weeks.

Consistent with his reputation for a case of foot-in-mouth-disease—acquired during his unsuccessful 2012 run for president—Utah aging-senior-junior-Sen. Mitt Romney has made himself highly visible in the matter of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and its temporary suspension, declaring that President Donald Trump's sound thrashing was actually a presidential victory.

"So the president calls their bluff," Romney mused, and addressed the Democrats, "OK, we'll open government. Now it's your turn to actually come up with a deal that helps us secure the border." The practice of a pot calling the kettle black is certainly nothing new. It is the standard strategy for the Trump administration.

Romney has chosen to stand out at a time when he should be cowering in the shadows. There had been only one party doing the bluffing in the shutdown impasse, and it was the GOP, which allowed the toddler-buffoon in the White House to throw the tantrum that created the crisis. (Utahns, get real! The only crisis was in Trump's mind—it wasn't about a wall—and it was only his maniacal immaturity that launched this economic disaster on the lives of government workers and their families. POTUS was the cause of their suffering; he owned it, took responsibility for it and was personally culpable for the far-reaching economic impact in places like Ogden, Utah, which depend largely on federal jobs.

It's no surprise that Romney, consistent with his work at Bain Capital, has never really been concerned about the common man and his struggles. I'm not saying he's the totally-devoid-of-conscience cousin of Trump; there have been brief glimpses of his humanity. But we need to remember, Bain Capital specialized in taking over struggling companies, with almost no capital risk of its own, using huge loans to buy the stock, which in turn created untenable debt burdens for the acquired companies. Bain Capital then gutted the businesses of their profits and fired thousands of employees to compensate for the added debt expense. For some, he arranged public stock offerings, and once the companies were public, sold off the stock for millions in ill-gotten profits. While there were a few companies that Bain Capital actually helped to grow and succeed, most were forced into bankruptcy. One must never buy the story that Romney made his living helping floundering businesses. It's simply not true.

That was the business model that brought hundreds of millions to Bain Capital, and made Romney, who was already filthy rich from his inheritance, even richer. This is who Mr. Clean really is—a surprisingly heartless man whose own success was always off the aching backs of the American worker. He shares nothing with the typical Utahn, and he shares none of the honest, hard-working business ideals that made his own father a hero of the American Dream.

At times, Romney has tried to claim that he's actually one of us. I remember him lamenting that he had been so hard-up during his years at BYU, he was forced to sell some of the stock his father had given him. So it's actually easy to see why he can take the side of the orange, club-wielding brute. Like Trump, Romney was a recipient of the "golden spoon," dodged the draft using a variety of deferment options, and showed his love of the common man by handing out financial misery to thousands of hard-working people during his business career.

Protective coloration isn't even a viable option for Romney. What he is isn't easily hidden. While his movie-star looks and glib charm will always maintain the illusion that he's a knight in shining armor on a white horse—saving damsels in distress, and standing for the underdog—it's his actions that we should all be watching.

His telltale pandering to the president in the shutdown debacle tells us Romney's true identity—a carpet-bagging, wishy-washy, cardboard-opportunist and corporate-looter, cloaked in respectable garb.

The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to