Since losing to Barack Obama four years ago, Romney’s been picking at the edges of the political game but has avoided jumping back into it, although you could say he came close when he called Trump out as “a con man, a phony and a fraud” -- a famously ineffective attempt to halt Trump’s march to the nomination and possibly position himself as a draft-able alternative at the Republican convention. After Trump secured the nomination and then upset Hillary to secure the presidency, Romney was definitively out of the game, lost forever in the Trump dust cloud. Or so it seemed.Imagine Romney on election night out there in Utah, California or wherever, immediately calculating that there’s a good chance Trump will be a one-term president because he’ll screw up so badly he’ll either be impeached or will not be able to run credibly for re-election, in which case Mike Pence would be the heir apparent. (There’s also always the chance, Romney would see, that Trump, an anger-filled, out-of-shape septuagenarian, could die in office.) Romney calculates he could take Pence -- but not easily from a standing start as a long-out-of-office governor from liberal Massachusetts.
Romney therefore makes the painfully pragmatic decision to swallow his pride and ask Trump please, pretty please to give him a national/international platform as the next Secretary of State, from which he can regain political viability and play the power game in a large way for a sustained period. (Mitt the Bain Guy has always excelled at long-range planning.)Does Romney sincerely want to counter Trump’s worst impulses and render true service to America and the world? Indubitably. But, like most alpha politicians, he’s driven more by ambition than anything. The presidency is the ultimate prize for them. If serving a White House “fraud” potentially advances that ambition, it will be more than worth it to Romney.