Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Romney: Three Strikes You're Out

While the media and political pundits are eagerly anticipating the presidential elections, describing Mitt Romney’s supposed move to the center, and the “excitement” of a tightening race, it’s time to apply some common sense to this “horse race.” Most voters will vote republican or democrat because that’s what they always do, no matter who the candidate is. But let’s take a different view, and first, try to understand what Romney and the Republicans stand for. Then let’s look at their track record, and finally look at the candidate’s character........ 

It’s not very clear what the Republicans stand for. They include the Tea Party, which seems against anything done by government, from building bridges and providing social security to setting health and environmental standards. They include libertarians, who not only want to limit government’s role, but take liberty to extremes without considering the consequences. And it includes an increasingly conservative base, that is against big government and for big defense, against illegal immigrants and for privatized prisons, against equal treatment of women and gays, and for letting climate problems solve themselves, against science as the foundation of education and increasingly for uncivil behavior (such as by Congressman Joe Wilson saying “you lie” to the President during the State of the Union, and radio host Rush Limbaugh calling a female witness at a congressional hearing “a prostitute”.)  Although one could debate some of these views, overall they don’t offer a very appealing philosophy, but are rather simplistic, cold and hardly visionary. If Romney truly believes in these principles, then this is strike one against him. 

 Let’s now look at these principles in action, for example during the eight year administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Congress had a Republican majority during most of those years, which should offer quite an objective evaluation of the Republican track record.

On the economy, The Wall Street Journal stated that during Bush’ 96 months in office, the U.S. experienced 22 months of recession; his administration created only 3 million jobs vs. 23 million during Clinton and 2.5 million during the shorter administration of Bush Sr. and  the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s started under his Presidency.

On defense, the U.S. was not prepared to defend itself against the 9/11 attacks – granted we can’t blame a sitting President for every single event, but something of this magnitude did happen on the Republican watch. And what about starting two wars, one of which, Iraq, on dubious grounds, and both of them having yielded over 10 years later mostly carnage, huge loss in blood and treasure, and far from a ‘mission accomplished.” 
On foreign policy, many of the U.S.’ traditional friends and allies have been alienated by a Bush administration by going ahead with the war in Iraq, bullying its allies and ignoring old friendships. It seems clear what the eight Bush Jr. years have brought the U.S.: bungled wars, the groundwork for the economic collapse, and a loss of admiration for the U.S. model.  I’d say strike two against Romney’s Republicans.

Now that Romney has two strikes against him, based on unappealing political principles and a track record no one can be proud of, let’s then look if Romney, the individual offers something of redeeming value. True, he is an accomplished person with legal and business degrees from Harvard; a successful career making money as a private equity investor; running the Winter Olympics of Salt Lake City; and having been Governor of Massachusetts. But without going into the sometimes controversial nature of these “accomplishments”, if you hire someone to work with you, let alone lead this country as President, in the end character should be the determining factor. Whatever someone’s accomplishments, if you can’t trust the person, or if he is abusive and controlling, why bother. Case in point is a recent article in The Washington Post about Romney’s bullying as a teenager: 

 “...A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors…..”

Romney found this accusation serious enough to respond to on Fox Radio as follows:

“Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize. If I did stupid things, I’m afraid I’ve got to say sorry for it.”

Is childhood behavior indicative of someone’s later life’s actions? Yes, if it is congruent with his ongoing conduct, which Paul Begala, former President Clinton adviser, strongly believes in his Daily Beast article: “Once a Bully, Always a Bully’:


“One can draw a straight line from the young man who pinned down a terrified teenager and walked a blind man into a closed door, to the adult who put the family dog in a kennel and strapped it to the roof of the car, to the businessman who laid off hundreds of people, cancelled their health benefits, and paid himself millions while their company went bankrupt. And the line continues: the governor who slashed education and raised fees on the middle class, and the possible president who would use his power to cut taxes on his fellow millionaires while pushing for the gradual demise of traditional Medicare.”

Then there is also the frequent changing of views by Romney: see my post of February 16, 2012 Romney, Quo Vadis? where I described how Romney in 2009 first advocated to have the Detroit car companies go bankrupt, then once they recovered claimed the autos bailout was crony capitalism, and only last week takes credit for the auto industry recovery.

Someone who takes these many positions on one issue, clearly has a credibility issue.

On character, it’s strike three against Romney. Even if you used to support the principles of the Republican party, how do you deal with the Republican’s dismal track record? And even if you think that track record was just an aberration, how can you support a candidate who’s this flawed? To me the answer seems clear, and I hope that’s also the case for independent and undecided voters.

No comments:

Post a Comment