The operative question — for everyone — is “Why?” As in, why would Mitt Romney, two-time presidential candidate, 2012 Republican presidential nominee and all-around serious establishment guy, keep dancing to Trump’s tune? Especially considering that Romney, back in March, condemned Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” while Trump repeatedly blasted Romney on the campaign trail as a loser who let the party down by faltering in a very winnable race.
The terrible answer for Romney is that this willingness to subjugate his personal views about Trump is all in service of an overarching ambition for power that has defined his life. Romney critics — and those are the people pushing this theory — point to his past flip-flops on such issues as abortion and gay marriage as evidence that when a deeply held belief comes up against Romney’s ambition, ambition always wins. So, Romney wants to be #secretary of state more than he hates Trump. It’s that simple a calculation.
The terrific answer is that Romney still feels a call to public service. That the same motivation that drove him to run for governor or take over the failing Salt Lake City Winter Olympics or even run for president — a desire to make things better and a belief he can do so — is what compels him to make nice with someone that, from a personal perspective, he clearly holds in utter contempt. Under this theory, Romney believes the best way to preserve his vision for the country and its role in the world — and protect those things from potentially harmful decisions by Trump — is to insert himself between the president-elect and the world. That only by going into the Trump administration can he keep really bad things from happening.