Mitt’s People Are Worried

Michael Barbaro and Ashley Parker write for the New York Times

Campaign advisers to former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, stung by unexpectedly fierce attacks from Republican rivals on his career as a corporate buyout specialist, are scrambling to avoid a prolonged and nasty battle over his business record before it does lasting damage to the front-runner.

Mitt’s problems is that he wants to run as a jobs-creating businessman, but his actual record at the helm of Bain Capital is secret, and apparently will remain so. So, Mittens is running on bullshit.

The campaign intends to cast Mr. Romney, a founder and a former chief executive of Bain Capital, as a defender of market capitalism, a bedrock principle of Republicanism, and to suggest that those who assail his business background are outside the party’s mainstream.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Mr. Romney lamented that “desperate Republicans” were attacking the free enterprise system and the very notion of success.

“This is such a mistake for our party and for our nation,” he said. “The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy.”

But he’s been going around claiming to have created a hundred thousand jobs, sometimes tens of thousands of jobs, sometimes hundreds of thousands of jobs, and he can’t prove it. (The number appears to vary with Romney’s mood; sort of like the number of known communists Joe McCarthy used to claim were in the State Department.) Keach Hagey writes for Politico that Romney’s time at Bain Capital is in a “black box.” Attempts by journalists to get any kind of data whatsoever from Bain have been solidly unsuccessful. Bain won’t even tell journalists where its money is invested.

“Bain, even for a private equity firm, is particularly private,” said Josh Kosman, author of “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy.” “Most private equity firms are because once you look behind the numbers, there is much they don’t want you to see.”

And the fact is, the number of net jobs Mitt’s work at Bain might have created, or uncreated, might be a figure that even Bain can’t pin down. They keep track of how much money they are making for investors, not whether they are creating jobs.

Some reporters have managed to get information by other means —

Reporters have produced a steady stream of human stories and case studies … such as The New York Times’s report on how Bain squeezed big payouts from medical company Dade Behring even as it headed for layoffs and bankruptcy, or Reuters’s tale of how Bain managed to make money from its purchase of a Kansas steel mill that ultimately had to have its pension fund bailed out by the government.

So, at least some news outlets are trying. And this is a hopeful sign. In 2000, George W. Bush got away with calling himself a successful businessman when he had been anything but. But the GOP was solidly with Dubya, keeping his back and fluffing up his record. Mittens doesn’t have that advantage. And I think it’s also the case that in the past dozen years the rise of political bloggers has made professional media a little more alert.

There is some talk that airing Mittens’s dirty laundry now may help him later, but frankly I don’t see how. If the image of Romney as a vampire squid solidifies in the public mind it would take inordinate charm to overcome that, and Mittens doesn’t have inordinate charm.

12 thoughts on “Mitt’s People Are Worried

  1. What MITT 3.0 has, is an inordinate amount of “smarm.”

    And if I were Obama, I would take MITT 3.0 at his word when he says he created 100,000’s of jobs.
    I’m sure he did:
    In Mexico.
    Central and South America.
    The Philippines.

    After all, MITT 3.0 has never specified that he helped create “American” jobs. Just – jobs.

  2. Mitt’s Bain took over a steel company, and while lots of people lost their jobs, Mitt himself walked away richer. Obama took over General Motors, so thousands of people kept their jobs, and the US Treasury got richer.

    Who would you rather vote for?

    Mitt’s ‘business’ experience is mainly about getting rich off of other people’s suffering and risking other people’s money. It’s not like he got his bucks by inventing a better mousetrap, setting up a factory to make it, and marketing it around the globe.

    The implication that his private sector experience gives him anything useful in the Oval Office was a stretch even before people started looking too closely.

    (Not that I mind Newt working off a little karma from the Clinton years by blanketing the airwaves with anti-Mitt ads.)

  3. There’s just no way that the GOP can hide what this man really is, even if they come up with some sort of crazed VP sidekick. It wil be fun to watch them try.

  4. Well, the deeper problem with Mitt Romney is that he is is just utterly hollow. Really the only argument that can be made for him that withstands the slightest scrutiny is that he is not Barack Obama. That is to say, it is demonstrably the case that Mitt Romney is not Barack Obama, so if you’re convinced that what’s wrong with the world is Barack Obama, then that is one reason why you might support Mitt Romney. Otherwise I don’t think there is a single claim he’s making about himself in his campaign that is true. The whole thing is based on lies. His entire persona is a lie. So yes, if I was trying to get him elected president I’d be worried.

  5. From a comment to a Jan 10 (LA Times) opinion piece by Jonah Goldberg (no linkee) “Romney’s Authenticity Problem”:

    ….and now he [Goldberg] is honest about the Republican base not liking Romney. He is even insightful enough to say that it’s the fundamental, unmistakable dishonesty of Romney that’s driving people away much more than his positions or his business baggage from Bain. Voters can tolerate flip-flopping if it seems like the candidate is sincere about his flip-flops, but Romney simply doesn’t seem sincere to people.

    Romney’s not as skillful a liar as Clinton. He can mouth the words but he can’t make the music. That leads to the disconnect that Jonah talks about, where Romney seems robotic and lacking in emotion. Republicans have not had a genuinely dishonest candidate at or near the top of the presidential ticket since Nixon. Romney is the first modern Clinton-esque politician in the Republican party. It’s taking time for voters to understand and process this, but if there is enough time, they’ll reject Romney and pick another candidate.

    See, Romney’s major failing is that he is not genuinely dishonest, like Nixon. This is so much fun to watch!

    It amazes me, but this race is shaping up to be a perverse, dystopic version of the 1996 Clnton/Bob Dole matchup.

  6. Hopefully in all this talk of ‘capitalism’ the dirty little secrets of same will be aired. Face it, Mitt is a ‘successful’ capitalist. He has accrued huge amounts of capital by operating as close to the poison line as possible – a basic tenet of capitalism.

    Adam Smith, the ‘father’ of laissez-faire capitalism, realized late in life that the system he had invented and touted in his tome, “The Wealth of Nations” (1776) would result in huge wealth for a few at the expense of (and resulting poverty) of the many. Smith (a little secret some know but few admit) realized the huge down-side of laissez-faire and wanted the entire tome thrown out never to again see the light of day – or scrutiny.

    It’s (tragically) amusing that today’s touters of the system, in vilifying Mitt, are also vilifying the system which they purport to support.

  7. This is shaping up for a wonderful speech by Obama to argue “what is capitalism for?” – which should put the death knell to Romney’s eventual bid. Not that I completely believe Obama, but I think he’s more than capable of making the argument, and making it passionately enough to resonate with the majority of voters, to everyone but the most evidence-impaired wingnut. I’m looking forward to this speech later this year.

    @Felicity – would love it if you could provide some links regarding Adam Smith’s late life realizations – or maybe this is well known, in the public domain (but I doubt it). Would really like to add it as a footnote to my (eventual, someday) study of Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

    • “what is capitalism for?”

      This is a discussion the whole country should be having, and it’s long overdue.

  8. Just imagine the fun to be had once some graphic artist with good net meme sense really grabs hold of “vampire squid”. It’s possible that a viral image can upset the apple cart of those who think they can make criticism of Romney’s “squidness” go away by having it aired and supposedly defused early.

  9. …..capitalism”

    Elizabeth Warren explained how it SHOULD work very eloquently a few months ago.

  10. Mitt’s problems is that he wants to run as a jobs-creating businessman

    Another of Mitt’s problems is entitlement. He thought he could run negative ads against other republicans with impunity as he did with Gingrich in Iowa. Gingrich begs to differ. Payback is a mf.

  11. moonbat – I read it years ago and of course can’t remember where – sorry. I do remember that Smith, a very kind (read, naive) man, believed that empathy was inborn, inherent in all human beings. It was from that belief, which he later realized was not true, that he had rationalized that all men would (naturally) go to the aid of, help, whatever, his disadvantaged and down-trodden fellow man. It was out of that realization that he condemned the system which he had created.

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