History will record that Mitt Romney was a pimple on the ass of American politics: painful while here and forgotten once gone. Now the pustule has resurfaced. As part of his brief "Thank You Tour," Romney is using his appearance on Fox News Sunday to attack President Obama for "berating Republicans and blaming and pointing" over the budget sequester. That takes gall, even from a man who branded 47 percent of voters moochers. After all, candidate Romney wasn't just silent on the Republican debt-ceiling hostage-taking leading up to the August 2011 deal that produced the sequester. As it turns out, his own budget-busting proposals would have produced red ink as far as the eye can see.
In his interview with Chris Wallace set to air on Fox News Sunday, Governor Romney blasted Obama for harsh sequester rhetoric that apparently hurt Republican feelings:
"Well, no one can think that's been a success for the president. He didn't think the sequester would happen. It is happening. But to date, what we've seen is the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country, and berating Republicans. And blaming and pointing. Now what does that do? That causes the Republicans to retrench and then put up a wall and fight back. It's a very natural human emotion."
But to the degree that Mitt Romney displays natural human emotion, the one he displayed during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis was fear. After all, while other declared and undeclared GOP candidates like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty echoed the statements of the Republican Default Deniers, Mitt Romney said nothing at all. As Frank Bruni mused in "Mitt Romney's Vanishing Act":
His curious absence through the debt-ceiling showdown even set off a spirited name game in the news media, with different scribes lofting different sobriquets: the missing Mormon, the phantom front-runner and (courtesy of Ben Smith of Politico) a denizen of the Mittness Protection Program.
But you don't have to take the New York Times' word for it. As the GOP's debt ceiling extortion scheme came down to the wire on August 1, 2011, Matt Lewis of the conservative Daily Caller warned that "Romney may pay for going AWOL on debt debate":
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena," Theodore Roosevelt famously advised. But as is the case with many maxims, there are opposing viewpoints. With the nation deeply embroiled in debt debate, GOP front runner Mitt Romney appears to be following different advice: Keep your head down and your mouth shut.
Red State was harsher still in "Mitt Romney's Debt Ceiling Deception."
As Daniel Horowitz later complained, "While most other Republican leaders were weighing in on the debt ceiling deal throughout July, Romney remained silent in his Mittness Protection Program." And when House Speaker John Boehner dropped his demand that any hike in debt limit must be accompanied by an agreement to "Cut, Cap and Balance" the federal budget, Romney on July 26, 2011 issued only a vague statement of support:
"Gov. Romney thinks President Obama's leadership has been an historic failure. He applauds Leader Boehner for standing firm against raising taxes when our nation can least afford them."
It was only after John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and President Obama reached a compromise with the Budget Control Act of 2011 that Mitt Romney weighed in. Following his fellow Republican candidates pandering to the GOP's Tea Party base, Romney announced he opposed the deal that averted a default on the full faith and credit of the United States. As the Los Angeles Times reported:
"President Obama's leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute," Romney stated. "While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama's lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal"...
In his statement, Romney tried to appeal to conservatives. "As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced - not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table," he stated.
But President Romney wouldn't just have triggered a default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, his massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy coupled with $2 trillion in new defense spending would have added trillions more to the national debt. Forget "Cut, Cap and Balance."
Mercifully, after his upcoming speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Americans should be able to forget Mitt Romney for good. And like that annoying zit, it will be as if he was never here.