“MIAMI — As the economy takes center stage in the Republican presidential race, Mitt Romney spoke in unusually personal terms about his own business experience during remarks to the Latin Builders Association this morning,” writes the credulous Scott Conroy in a cbsnews blog burst titled Romney: Making Layoffs “An Awful Feeling”

“I’ve had settings where I’ve had to lay people off,” Romney said. “It’s an awful feeling. No one likes laying people off. Someone who thinks you’re a bad person if you lay someone off doesn’t understand. You feel bad. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done in business was asking a person to be let go.”

Remarks:

(1) Follow Romney’s “reasoning”

(a) Someone who thinks you’re a bad person if you lay someone off doesn’t understand.

(b) You feel bad.

(c) It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done in business was asking a person to be let go.

Note the passive voice in (c)—Romney’s awkward attempt to obscure his own agency—not lay a person off, or let a person go, but “ask a person to be let go.” But this bizarre locution implies consent, as if those “to be” laid off were given a choice!

(2) So we should not resent those who like Romney lay people off because they feel bad about it? Is Romney serious? Is Romney really making the case that his feelings are more important that peoples’ jobs?

(3) Does it not follow that Romney can excuse himself of any act by referring to his hurt feelings? Yes, I campaigned negatively against McCain and Huckabee—I lied, and I distorted their records—but anyone who would call me a bad person just doesn’t understand—I felt really bad about it.

(4) How do you reconcile Romney’s appeal to the sufferings of fund managers who engineer layoffs to benefit investors at the expense of workers with Romney’s repeated promise “to fight for every job”:

[...] [Romney:] “You’ve seen it here, in furniture. You’ve seen the textile industry, where Washington watched, saw the jobs go and go,” the Republican presidential contender told a group of senior citizens at the Sun City Hilton Head Retirement Center.

“I’m not willing to declare defeat on any industry where we can be competitive. I’m going to fight for every job,” Romney said […]

Answer: You can’t. The two positions cannot be reconciled.

Back to the credulous Conroy:

Throughout the campaign, Romney has touted his success in the consulting and venture capital fields in contrast to the “lifelong politicians” in the race. But yesterday, Mike Huckabee alluded to a negative impact of Romney’s days at Bain Capital, as the former Arkansas governor continues to brandish his own brand of economic populism.

“And I would also suggest one needs to look very carefully at what exactly the business record is,” Huckabee said. “If it’s taking companies who are in serious trouble, buying them when they are in pain, selling off their assets, and then making a huge profit off of it, that’s not something a lot of Americans can relate to, except those who have lost their jobs because of those kinds of transactions. If that’s the turnaround, there are a lot of Americans who would really not like to see their own lives turned around quite like that” [...]

Yes. We have harped on these finely tuned strings for a long, long time:

Back to the credulous Conroy:

[...] “If you haven’t changed and improved the way you provide your product to the marketplace, your competitor will, and ultimately you’ll be gone,” Romney said. “Constant improvement, constant change is called for. And that’s where I spent my life, where you have, in the private sector” [...]

Here is the problem: the marketplace operates according to different rules than the state. Citizens have a right to expect continuity from the decisions and operations of a state. Citizens also have a right to expect continuity from their elected officials. For example, Romney’s sudden conversion to the notion of Washington supervising industry, here neatly summarized and commented upon by the estimable Daniel Larison:

[...] There is a developing conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney primarily appeals to and represents “economic conservatives” within the Republican coalition, a view that has not been shaken very much by the candidate’s interventionist promises to quintuple government spending on technology research to benefit Michigan’s battered auto industry. Romney backers seem to be unfazed by this, just as his record of signing universal, government-mandated health care into law did not deter them from labeling him sound on economic and fiscal policy, but among those not already declared for the former governor, Romney’s latest round of telling his audience whatever they wanted to hear has gone over very badly.

Romney must be one of the first Republican candidates ever to be likened to a Soviet premier on account of his economic proposals [...]

[...] There are two things particularly striking about Romney’s appeal to Washington for the solution to Michigan’s economic woes. The first is that Romney has partly built his “transformation” campaign around the argument that the federal government has been overspending, but has vowed to increase spending within the “first 100 days” in a transparent (and successful) effort to buy votes in Michigan—his own fortune is no longer sufficient to buy supporters, so now he must draw on our money as well. The second, more telling problem is that Romney embodies not only the image of corporate America, but also possesses the mentality and ideology of the free-trading globalists who policies have worked to reduce manufacturing in Michigan and across the Midwest and the country to its present state. Even if Romney’s proposals were sincere (doubtful) and even if they were efficacious (unlikely) in ameliorating some of the damage of broader trade policy, he has stated that he has every intention of pushing for additional free-trade agreements and exacerbating the causes of de-industrialization and job losses. It is therefore all the more disturbing that someone who embraces the policies that have contributed to the economic ravaging of his home state can win over a plurality of voters based on little more than sentiment and promises to make them more dependent on the government that has failed them [...]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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  1. 1 Gavin: “Throughout his 15-year career at Bain Capital, which bought, sold, and merged dozens of companies, Romney had other chances to fight to save jobs, but didn’t—His ultimate responsibility was to make money for Bain’s investor

    [...] Romney: MY feelings are more important than YOUR jobs [...]




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