This has been probably the oddest of political primary seasons. We have an incumbent President who is the mad combination of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, and Walter Mondale. Obama ran in 2008 with the promise of being a “centrist” but has ruled, not governed, this country with all the aplomb of a bull in a china cabinet.
In 2010, the people of the United States under the mantra of a Tea Party gave the President and his political party a shellacking at the polls. Not only did the House of Representatives change hands but so did over 20 State legislative bodies; some for the first time in over a hundred years. The momentum for 2012 appeared to be ready to oust Obama and the Senate Democrats. In response to the election results of 2010, did Obama and Harry Reid work to assuage the Tea Party momentum? No, they just doubled down.
The Senate has, in violation of law, not submitted a budget for over 1000 days. What Obama can not get from an unwilling Congress, he gets by bureaucratic fiat and regulations. The GOP momentum has been for all intents, neutered.
With this in mind, the GOP primary season began with a series of candidates who ranged from losers to wannabes to the never were. Missing from the race were formidable and vetted conservatives such as Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan. Now, the GOP is left with four candidates. From these, it appears two (Gingrich and Romney) are contenders, one (Santorum) is vying for VP, and one (Paul) is just trying to be an influence at the convention. Of these, I want to focus on Romney.
Mitt Romney has been running for president since he became Governor of Massachusetts in 2003. He was considered a weak and feckless Governor and for the last two years of his term, a running joke. Under his watch, RomneyCare was enacted and gay marriage was found to be constitutional by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Budget shortfalls were made up with increases in taxes and user fees. When outraged people of all political stripes demanded Romney do something to overcome the aforementioned Supreme Court decision, Romney did nothing. Yes, he decried the decision but he frustrated any effort to amend the Massachusetts Constitution. In the end, Romney fought for nothing and believed in nothing but himself.
During his first run for the Presidency in 2008, Romney had the backing of many conservatives who did not like or trust John McCain. Romney became for these folks the “Anyone But McCain” candidate. I watched in amazement as none of his rivals liked Romney. He was treated with disdain and contempt. It was assumed it was because of their contempt for his support. It was only later, we found out their frustration with Romney surrounded his attempts to destroyed candidacies through a sordid whisper campaign in the media.
In the race for 2012, the real Romney has emerged and it is not pretty. In the four years since he dropped out of the 2008, Romney has embarked on a takeover of the GOP political process.
First, states like IA and NH moved up their Caucus and Primary dates. FL also moved up their primary date; even at the price of half their delegates. VA, with their strict ballot access rules, made access to their ballot even harder to access. The beneficiary of all these moves was Romney. He has the money and organization to accomplish these moves. It is almost as if Romney had taken the Bain Model to co-opt the GOP primary process. His willing accomplices in the conservative media saw nothing wrong and remained quiet.
Second, get the polls to show Romney is the only one who can beat Obama. This is pretty easy when the narrative is pushed through the media (Mainstream and Conservative) by political operatives. The narrative is reflected in the polls and a front-runner is born.
Next, when anyone begins to threaten the frontrunner status, destroy the contender. When candidates like Herman Cain seemed to threaten Romney, stories of sexual harassment and marriage infidelity magically appeared. Cain, in a fit of pique, put all his troubles on other candidates; notably Rick Perry. When Newt Gingrich then became the contender to Romney, he was systematically destroyed in Iowa and Florida by a full frontal negative assault. Gingrich was also attacked in SC but still won that election. Once again, his willing accomplices in the conservative media see nothing wrong and remained quiet.
Lastly, create a relevant message and stick to it. In response to the horrid economy, Romney promises to create jobs by stating that only he knows what is needed to create jobs. To that end, he constantly points to his time at Bain Capital, a private equity financial firm. This is the proverbial “fly in the ointment”.
Bain Capital is a financial animal that is needed when private companies need an infusion of cash. It also comes at a high price. On top of the high fees, there is debt. Some companies survive, some companies do not. Bain is interested in making money, not creating jobs. When I think of what Bain does, I am reminded of the Henry Hill narration from the movie Good Fellas when the restaurant owner takes Paulie Cicero as a partner:
“Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? F*** you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F*** you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? F*** you, pay me.”
Yet, when Rick Perry decried Bain Capital as “vulture capitalists”, a cacophony of conservatives accused Perry (and Gingrich) of being “anti-capitalists” and “attacking Romney from the Left”. The classic definition of a capitalist is someone who takes a long term risk to provide goods and services to the public. They invest their money, time, ideas, and expertise into the business while sacrificing everything to succeed. How is what Bain does any different than Paulie Cicero?
Romney’s mantra of knowing how to create jobs is belied by three other issues:
Romney’s support of a minimum wage tied to the rate of inflation.
One of the biggest criticisms of the minimum wage is that it causes unemployment, especially among Black youths. Conservative economists have decried the devastating effects the minimum wage has had on hiring. Yet, Romney pushes the idea.
The latest unemployment numbers.
The latest statistics from the government show 243,000 jobs created and the unemployment rate dropping to 8.3%. Romney’s response was basically he would have done this in quicker time. No where does Romney point out that 1.2 Million people have quit looking for work and that our labor force is at its lowest level since 1983. To be fair, even the vaunted Wall Street Journal says the 1.2 Million are likely retiring baby boomers. But as the blog Zero Hedge notes; as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. At this rate, the government should be able to declare unemployment at 6.5% by November. Romney is not prepared to face this challenge.
RomneyCare is a huge problem for Romney. Ann Coulter can make three cheers for the idea but the consequences of RomneyCare are dreadful. Business owners will have some tough decisions to make. Either they do not hire or expand, or they shift the burden of paying the premium to the employee. All the insurance plans in Massachusetts have to be approved by the State. They are also expensive.
The real problem with Romney is that Romney wants a centralized control economy. RomneyCare not only accomplishes much of that but it drastically changes the relationship between the government and the people as the government dictates to us how we are to spend our money. If this concept is accepted as legitimate, there is no limit to the authority of the government over us. If you think the government will stop here, you are living in a fool’s paradise.
Romney ignores the collateral damage of his ideas, His ego is so large, he can not comprehend that any part or use of his ideas can and will produce disastrous results. Perhaps, his way of creating jobs is to have the government hire more bureaucrats with the purpose to go into each private business no matter how large or small to see if they running properly and at full capacity. These bureaucrats will be able to streamline jobs or demand more hiring by diktat.
I believe Romney’s career at Bain Capital makes him uniquely unqualified to become President of the United States. If Bain were interested in and believed in the concepts of Free Enterprise, then why all the heavy tactics that result in the loss of Free Enterprise?
It was the entrepreneur who is the real capitalist. It is their sweat equity that grew our economy from the malaise of the Carter years, not the equity of Bain. If the nominees in November are Romney and Obama, it does not matter who wins. Romney’s accomplices in the conservative media still do not see anything wrong and remain quiet. They are willing to sacrifice their principles for power. Eventually, they will have neither because in the long run, we are all Bained.