Throughout President Trump’s first term, Senator Mitt Romney has emerged as an affable ally for liberal Democrats eager for the company of anti-Trump Republicans. While these accolades are largely underserved—despite his abject dislike of Donald Trump and partial vote in support of Trump’s impeachment—it has prevailed, leading forgetful Democrats to hold out hope that the Utah senator will pivot to Democratic-friendly centrism. But it’s this characterization, paired with his toothless Kumbayah statement regarding the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination hearing paired that got me wondering: Is this dude the himbo of the United States Senate?
If you didn’t already know, a himbo is a handsome man who, while perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed, is generally amiable and kindhearted. Think golden retriever in human form, Channing Tatum, or Matthew McConaughey before he won an Oscar. Romney certainly fits some parameters of himbodom, but certainly not all.
First off, let’s get this out of the way: Controversial as this may be, I think it’s safe to say that Romney is conventionally attractive. I will not fight anyone on this. There are enough damning receipts on the internet that adequately document my point of view.
Let’s move on.
In a statement he tweeted Tuesday, Romney condemned the divisiveness of the United States and the politicians that add fuel to the fire. “I’m troubled by our politics, as it has moved away from spirited debate to vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass that is unbecoming of any free nation—let alone the birthplace of modern democracy,” Romney wrote. He noted that Trump’s petulant name-calling has no place in civilized society, and neither does that of the Democratic opposition in the halls of Congress or on a television news set.
“It’s time to lower the heat, leaders must tone it down,” Romney added. “Leaders from the top and leaders of all stripes: Parents, bosses, reporters, columnists, professors, union chiefs, everyone.”
The statement was standard Romney: a bit of false equivalency between the vitriol on the right and left combined with a peace love edict so out of touch that it makes him look as if his head is in the clouds. In other words, a fucking ditz.
Setting aside Romney’s multiple degrees, including a JD/MBA at Harvard, he’s proven himself to be a bit of a dipshit on more than one occasion.
First, let’s look back at an iconic moment from Romney’s 2008 presidential run when he greeted a group of black children in Jacksonville, Florida during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. During the impromptu photo opp, he proceeded to say, “Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?”
This, of course, was a direct quote from the 2000 Baha Men hit, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
He also complimented a baby’s “bling bling,” a phrase that was certainly played out by 2008. In fairness to Romney, this was probably the most black people he had been around in his life, so of course, he was using outdated slang in a pitiful attempt to relate to them. But this behavior is such a perfect caricature of a well-meaning old white guy trying to be down that it largely elicits groans, not anger.
Fast forward a few years to Romney’s 2012 presidential run, riddled with lampooned moments—like his “binders full of women” line—one moment that we all seem to forget is when he was asked if he prefers Jersey Shore star Snooki or Toddlers and Tiara’s Honey Boo Boo:
I’m kind of a Snooki fan. Look how tiny she’s gotten. She’s lost weight. She’s energetic. Just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun.
But perhaps the best example that Romney isn’t necessarily the brightest crayon in the box was in the 2014 documentary Mitt, which highlighted the behind the scenes moments from Romney’s presidential runs. It includes an unforgettable scene in which Romney attempts to iron his tuxedo jacket while he’s wearing it.
“It’s working... ouch,” Romney said. “Sort of working. Ouch. Ouch.”
Funny? Yes. Endearing? When factoring in the ways in which Romney has spent a large part of his political career advocating regressive conservative, corporatist ideology that largely benefits his one percent peers, not so much. At the end of the day, Romney may be handsome, a little dim, and more pleasant than his Republican colleagues (Mitch McConnell literally chuckled when Congress’s covid-19 shortcomings were brought up during a recent debate) but he’s still doesn’t have the heart to be a true himbo.
Maybe if he chose not to be a feckless worm and opposed the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court weeks before the election or something—or, better yet, drop the Republican party—perhaps he could fit into my definition of a himbo more comfortably.
Until then, he’s no himbo. He’s just a handsome airhead with bad politics.
Update, 11:22 a.m.: It has been brought to my attention that I forgot to mention the 1983 incident in which Romney drove for 12 hours—from Boston to his Ontario, Canada cottage—with his dog, Seamus, strapped to the top of the family station wagon. According to the Boston Globe, Romney reportedly “built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.” But Seamus’s adventure wasn’t free of flaws.
From the Boston Globe:
As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ‘’Dad!’’ he yelled. ‘’Gross!’’ A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.
As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway.
During a 2007 interview with Chris Wallace, Romney insisted that the Irish settler “enjoyed” the ride.