Donald Trump's flirtation with Mitt Romney is big-league smart
The news, as always, came via Twitter:
Mitt Romney, the face - and voice - of the resistance to Donald Trump in the Republican primary and the general election will huddle with the president-elect over the weekend to talk about possibly serving as the nation's top diplomat.
It's uniquely possible, of course, that this meeting is solely for show. After all, Trump isn't exactly someone who forgives and forgets. And Romney has significant policy disagreements with the president-elect - most notably in how they view Russia. (Romney has said Russia is "our No. 1 geopolitical foe." Trump has, um, not.)
Plus, the Trump transition team seems committed to floating literally every person who has ever been a Republican of any renown as a potential Cabinet appointee.
So, yes, this could all be just a giant feint in the ongoing reality show that is "Donald Trump, President."
But, what if it isn't?
If Trump is willing to actually offer Romney the secretary of state job and Romney is actually willing to take it, it would represent a major coup for the president-elect. Why?
1) Romney is a serious and highly respected, card-carrying member of the Republican establishment.
2) Per above, Romney has made no secret of his disagreements - both personally and on policy matters - with Trump.
3) It would settle the nerves of millions of people who didn't vote for Trump as to what sort of president he might be.
The biggest question mark - for all of official Washington - is whether Trump can get beyond his own personal grievances and loyalty pledges to actually focus on doing the best thing for the country over the next four years. Who he picks for his key cabinet posts - and secretary of state is one of the most critical - is a key early indicator of where Trump's mind is.
Picking Romney - or even South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, another prominent critic whom Trump met with Thursday - would show something that was sorely lacking in Donald Trump the candidate: Magnanimity. A willingness to pick the person he believes is best for the job, not just someone who was unfailingly loyal to him during the campaign. Someone who might challenge his assumptions or opinions from time to time. An equal, not a lackey.
Again, this would, largely, run counter to how Trump ran his presidential campaign. But that would also make picking Romney all the more powerful as a symbol. Campaigns are one thing, it would be Trump saying, but being president is another. I want to be surrounded by the best people for the job - no matter what we said about each other in the past.
This is, of course, the whole "Team of Rivals" concept that garnered President Obama so much good press in his own transition period back in late 2008. Trump has further to go - a lot further to go - than Obama did to heal the rifts within his own party and answer doubts about his readiness to do the job to which he was elected. But, the Romney meeting is a step in the right direction. Getting Romney to sign on would be an even bigger one.