An­a­lyz­ing the mean­ing of Mitt

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­parker@ wash­post.com.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s flir­ta­tion with Mitt Rom­ney as a pos­si­ble pick for sec­re­tary of state has in­jected a sliver of hope and change into an evolv­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion that could use some.

If ever there were a rarer pair — think Dober­man and Labradoo­dle — I can’t think of one. Then again, how bet­ter to present a bad cop/good cop dy­namic to a dan­ger­ous and frag­ile world? If Trump is per­ceived as un­sta­ble and po­ten­tially volatile, Rom­ney is the face of calm, a steady hand to help guide the next pres­i­dent’s for­eign poli­cies.

Con­cerns about the two men’s pointed ex­changes dur­ing the cam­paign sea­son would seem less im­por­tant than whether Rom­ney can do the pres­i­dent’s bid­ding — rene­go­ti­at­ing trade deals, for ex­am­ple — when Trump’s views are in di­rect con­flict with his own. Rom­ney has been proopen trade while Trump cam­paigned on ei­ther scrap­ping or re­work­ing trade deals.

Hav­ing known Rom­ney for a decade or so, I’m pretty sure he’d ac­cept the job if of­fered, which I base on my un­der­stand­ing of his pro­found sense of duty to coun­try. While true that Rom­ney worked against Trump dur­ing the pri­maries, his per­sonal val­ues, in­clud­ing a hu­mil­ity rare in the po­lit­i­cal world, ul­ti­mately would pre­vail over self-re­gard.

And though Trump called Rom­ney a “choker,” hardly a rec­om­men­da­tion for the per­son charged with ne­go­ti­at­ing the na­tion’s for­eign in­ter­ests, Trump is Trump, mean­ing he moves eas­ily from one po­si­tion to an­other. And pol­i­tics are pol­i­tics. Things are said. Things are un­said.

In­deed, just Tues­day, top aide Kellyanne Con­way said that the pres­i­dent-elect won’t pur­sue an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton, de­spite hav­ing vowed to put her in jail and presided over many a chant of “lock her up.”

More than any­thing else, Trump is a prag­ma­tist and a busi­ness­man. Op­er­a­tive ques­tion: What works? As he be­gins to or­ga­nize his board of di­rec­tors, other­wise known as the Cabi­net, he’s surely aware that Rom­ney, of those ru­mored to be un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, would be most ef­fec­tive on the world stage.

The prag­ma­tist, by def­i­ni­tion, is un­emo­tional about such de­ci­sions. Rom­ney may not be Trump’s cup of tea on any num­ber of fronts, in­clud­ing the im­pos­si­bil­ity of the two set­tling in for some “locker room” talk, but the pres­i­dency con­fers a broader view of the world, not to men­tion the bur­den of all that fol­lows.

What would not work is Rudy Gi­u­liani. Not only does the man for­merly known as “Amer­ica’s mayor” act like he may have plunged his fin­ger into a live socket but his out­spo­ken­ness in de­fense of Trump has of­ten seemed like the mad rant­ing of a man an­gry at the moon.

We still love 9/11 Rudy, but that Rudy seems to be miss­ing. Even if he were present, the fel­low who per­forms best in a cri­sis isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the one who per­forms best in pre­vent­ing a cri­sis.

By stark con­trast, Rom­ney would help re­lax ten­sions abroad as well as at home. He has in­ter­na­tional cred­i­bil­ity and a so­phis­ti­cated un­der­stand­ing of com­plex global re­la­tion­ships. Re­mem­ber, it was Rom­ney who, dur­ing his fi­nal de­bate with Pres­i­dent Obama in 2012, pointed to Rus­sia as our great­est geopo­lit­i­cal foe.

On China, Rom­ney and Trump prob­a­bly agree more than not. Again, dur­ing his own pres­i­den­tial run Rom­ney spoke of­ten of clamp­ing down on China’s cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion. He is also the son of Ge­orge Rom­ney — who in ad­di­tion to be­ing gov­er­nor of Michi­gan was pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Mo­tors Corp. — and likely agrees with Trump that the U.S. needs to cre­ate in­cen­tives for busi­nesses to in­vest more in Amer­i­can jobs.

Fur­ther to Rom­ney’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions, he’s an ex­pe­ri­enced deal-maker, a skill Trump ob­vi­ously admires. Su­per-ar­tic­u­late and flu­ent in pol­icy (as well as French, for what it’s worth), Rom­ney is a cool thinker and, not in­signif­i­cantly, a non-im­biber, also like Trump. Not least, he is by all ac­counts a thoroughly de­cent hu­man be­ing.

A wise man would look no fur­ther.

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