WASHINGTON â€" I never expected to write these words, but I miss Mitt Romney.
On Wednesday, the day the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination was in New Hampshire alleging that Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives may actually be clandestine terrorists, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee was in Washington, talking sense.
â€œDonald Trump will not be the nominee,â€ Romney told a group of business-school students at Georgetown University. And why wonâ€™t Trump, who, when he isnâ€™t besmirching Syrian refugees as terrorists, is maligning Mexican immigrants as rapists, get the nod? Because, Romney said, â€œwhen all is said and done, the American people usually do the right thing.â€
The Postâ€™s Philip Rucker recorded Romneyâ€™s categorical prediction, and his rationale. â€œI know thereâ€™s some skunks in any endeavor â€" business, politics â€" and they get most of the visibility, but there are also some really good people,â€ Romney said. â€œThe American people are a very good people and by and large find people of similar character to elect to the highest office in the land.â€
Romney is right. In fact, Iâ€™m so certain Trump wonâ€™t win the nomination that Iâ€™ll eat my words if he does. Literally: The day Trump clinches the nomination I will eat the page on which this column is printed in Sundayâ€™s Post. I have this confidence for the same reason Romney does: Americans are better than Trump.
The Postâ€™s media reporter, Paul Farhi, took me to task this week for expressing such a sentiment. I was one of the pundits he named as being â€œconsistently wrongâ€ in predicting Trumpâ€™s demise, one who â€œdeclared his candidacy dead or mortally woundedâ€ while Trump instead â€œmaintained his leading position in opinion polls.â€
Specifically, Farhi took issue with my Sept.â€‰20 column, after the second Republican debate, when I asked: â€œCould this be the beginning of the end of Donald Trump?â€ I expressed the hope that â€œTrump will indeed succeed in making America great again â€" by motivating Americans, even fellow conservatives and Republicans, to repudiate his nonsense.â€ The media reporter refuted my belief that Trump would fail by pointing to a new USA Today poll showing that Trump had gained six points since July.
Alas for Farhi, the Postâ€™s Philip Bump posted a piece 57 minutes earlier undermining the Trump-triumphant theme. Bump noted that Trump has shed eight points in polling averages from his peak before the second debate and that â€œthere are signs that Trump is hitting the ceiling of his supportâ€ at 23%.
More to the point, my prediction that Trump will ultimately fail isnâ€™t about punditry or polling. It comes from faith that American voters are more sensible than many poll-obsessed journalists and commentators give them credit for. Trump (and Muslim-baiting Ben Carson) wonâ€™t prevail in the Republican primary because voters, in the end, tend to get it right.
Republican primary voters may be angry at the political establishment, but they are not irrational: They donâ€™t wish to nominate a sure loser. And Trump is that. Americans, in a general election, will never choose a candidate who expresses the bigotry and misogyny that Trump has, regardless of his attributes. (Similarly, liberals love Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race, but ultimately Democrats wonâ€™t choose Sanders, because, regardless of their personal preferences, they know a socialist wonâ€™t be elected president.)
Consider what Trump said in Keene, N.H., this week about those fleeing Syria in the largest refugee crisis since World War II. â€œThis could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time,â€ he said of the desperate masses fleeing Syriaâ€™s civil war. â€œA 200,000-man army, maybe ... I donâ€™t know that it is, but it could be possible.â€
And what would happen to the refugees under President Trump? â€œTheyâ€™re going back,â€ he said.
To their deaths, presumably.
Romney on the campaign trail in 2011 â€" Photo: Gage Skidmore
The same day Trump posited this paranoia, Romney was at Georgetown, telling students about an 1814 letter John Adams wrote to the political philosopher John Taylor. â€œRemember,â€ the nationâ€™s second president wrote, â€œdemocracy never last long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.â€
Ours hasnâ€™t â€" yet. â€œWeâ€™ve beaten the odds,â€ Romney said, â€œin part because weâ€™ve had, I think, people of real character who have led our country as presidents ... and the American people have risen to the occasion time and again and have in fact then elected good people.â€
I second Romneyâ€™s analysis. No matter what 2015 polls say, 2016 wonâ€™t be the year American democracy murders itself.
Can you trust environmental officials?
It could have sunk because of the rain.
Women from the Surkha village have to travel several kilometers to find potable water
A questionable claim
Living in pollution
The mining work should have been stopped long ago
The mine has affected the landscape around the villages
Resisting lignite mining
They were dependent on others' land for work.
"We let them have our land for over 20 years," says Gohil.