A lot of Trump supporters and detractors are still in a state of shock after learning Thursday that the President-elect is meeting with 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to discuss the Secretary of State position. Considering the extremely harsh words Romney had for Trump during the campaign, including a nationally televised speech where he repeatedly blasted Trump as a phony a fraud and a con man, this potential partnership seems hard to fathom. But some deeper reflection shows three key reasons that Romney is really the perfect choice.
The first and probably most important reason is the fact that the nastiness of the 2016 election needs a defining moment of closure. President-elect Donald Trump is not going to be able to govern and the country is not going to be able to function properly unless he forgives a lot of the people who blasted him and they in turn forgive him.
Getting Romney to join the Trump fold will be a strong sign to a lot of "Never Trumpers" that maybe they need to come off it and give the new administration a chance. And if Trump can work with someone like Romney, give him the most prestigious cabinet position, and prove he doesn't hold even a justifiable grudge, that would certainly ease a lot of the concerns that he doesn't have the temperament for the Oval Office.
Of course, having Romney as a candidate to run the State Department will draw comparisons to President Barack Obama's decision to hand his intramural political rival the same job after his 2008 election. What was supposed to be a prime position that Clinton could use to prepare for a 2016 presidential run turned out to be part of her undoing because of her private server email scandal. But for Obama, the appointment was a political victory as it effectively silenced a potential serious critic of his administration and its policies. Trump would get the same benefit by bringing Romney on the team.
Another important factor in Romney's favor is that having him leading the Trump administration's foreign policy team should serve as a strong relief to those who are legitimately concerned that Trump is either too admiring of Russian President Vladimir Putin or maybe even under his influence.
The Democrats threw out a lot of still-unsubstantiated accusations about Trump's possible connections to the Putin regime throughout the election. And there is no secret that Moscow was rooting hard against Hillary Clinton. Romney, whose warnings about Russia in 2012 were snarkily dismissed by President Obama, has since been seen as something of a prophet because of Putin's subsequent aggressive moves in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Romney might be as unpopular in the Kremlin as Clinton, and that's a good thing as President Trump will need to prove he's nobody's pushover in the world.
Finally, Romney is the kind of person who can go a long way to easing many of our foreign allies who are flat out frightened of the incoming Trump administration. Romney has extensive diplomatic experience and ties, especially from his years planning and running the 2002 Winter Olympics. But his career and demeanor just make it look like he came straight out of central casting for the role of "dignified diplomat." He's a respected member of the establishment who looks the part, which will be important for a Trump administration that will likely want to introduce some controversial foreign policies. Having Romney be the one to deliver news of those policies to the world would help in a way that the much more caustic John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani would not.
They say politics makes strange bedfellows. But as much as a Trump-Romney alliance seems strange at first, it makes sense on a lot of levels. Get ready for a few more surprising partnerships to come in the Trump era.