Photo: Getty

Mitt Romney began the new year with an op-ed about Donald Trump in the Washington Post, which is something that absolutely no one asked for but that we all have to deal with anyway.

Here’s the post:

You can see by the headline, which is way too long, that this is going to be a lecture from America’s stern conservative dad on how President Trump is bad and uncouth. Romney prefers the gentler Republican cruelty of past decades—you know, the kind that doesn’t endorse statements like “grab them by the pussy” but still tries to erode women’s rights and expand the gap between rich and poor at every possible opportunity.

Romney even says this himself! From the op-ed:

It is not that all of the president’s policies have been misguided. He was right to align U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors, to strip out excessive regulations, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to reform criminal justice and to appoint conservative judges. These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.

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The president offered a characteristic response to the op-ed, and he honestly makes some good points.

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Romney is the new Jeff Flake? Yeah, pretty much. Trump won the presidency, and Romney lost it? Yes, that is also true.

Of course, Romney got what he wanted out of the op-ed. As Flake knew well, all it takes is some wildly ineffective bluster and a milquetoast indictment of Trump’s character and people will just line up to let you shovel shit into their mouths.

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It would be absolutely wild if Romney decided to primary Trump. He knows that the Republican Party—now and in perpetuity—is going to have to incorporate the rabid Trump base into its electoral calculations, and if Romney wants to make another run at the Oval Office in 2024 (when he will be 77 years old), he can’t risk splitting the party in 2020. What he does know is that a very measured, insanely boring and tired critique of the president is catnip for the Jake Tappers of this world.

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“First live interview since his op-ed,” kill me.

There’s also this, from Romney’s niece and current RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel:

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Dang, family fight! Maybe they will mildly critique each other into nonexistence but I doubt we’re going to be that lucky this year.