January 17, 2012

On Romney, John Hawkins (Almost) Totally Gets It

http://www.bizzyblog.com/wp-images/RomneyNo0808In a column a few weeks ago excerpted here, John Hawkins identified seven reasons why Romney’s electability is a myth.

In his Townhall column today, he identifies “Five Ways Conservatives Will Have to Sell Their Souls if Romney Wins”:

If you were trying to come up with the atrocious candidate imaginable to go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama in 2012, you couldn’t do much worse than Mitt Romney. He was an unpopular, moderate Governor who has lost 2 out of the 3 major elections he’s run in and whose signature issue, Romneycare, was an enormous failure. Moreover, he’s so uninspiring that he makes Bob Dole look like Ronald Reagan and that’s before you consider that his incessant flip-flopping that makes it impossible to really know where he stands on any issue.

Romney’s candidacy also runs counter to almost every political trend in the book right now. He’s the antithesis of everything the Tea Party stands for. A moderate, establishment endorsed, principle free, Rockefeller Republican. On the other hand, he’s like a bad guy straight out of central casting for the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

… (I) now believe Gingrich, Perry, Santorum, and even Huntsman, who just left the race, are ALL more electable than Mitt. It’s also worth noting that all of those candidates, including Huntsman, are more conservative than Romney. It’s mind boggling to consider the fact that if Romney wins, the conservative base will have chosen the guy behind Romneycare over the man behind the Contract with America, America’s premier social conservative, and the best job creating governor in America, all of whom would also be more electable.

… we’re not going to see someone who was a 3rd rate, unpopular, moderate governor become a great, popular, and conservative President. The idea that Republicans in Congress will keep Romney in line isn’t born out by anything that has happened in the last decade.

… if the conservative movement pricks its collective finger and signs on with Mitt Romney, it should be aware of what its signing on for.

1) Mitt Romney is the bailout king of American politics: Just about the only thing that the Tea Partiers and Occupy Wall Street agree on is that they really hated the bailouts. Yet, Mitt Romney is the bailout king of American politics. You could fairly argue that he took a bailout when he was at Bain, he supported TARP, he’s now comparing what he did at Bain to what Obama did at GM and Chrysler, and he has noted in a debate that he’s open to future bailouts. …

2) … Mitt Romney is also a flip-flopper — a far worse one than Kerry ever was. Even amongst conservatives, saying this about Romney is about as controversial as saying that the sun is hot, water is wet, or Barack Obama is a terrible President. …

3) Undermining capitalism to help Mitt Romney: … what some conservatives seem to be starting to lose sight of in their efforts to defend Mitt Romney is that not everything that creates a profit is moral, good, admirable, or even politically palatable. We’d never run a candidate who got rich running a chain of strip clubs, closing all his factories and sending his jobs of China, or by being the world’s most effective spammer. We can all see the issues there.

Along similar lines, it’s not particularly admirable to buy a company, load it up with debt, strip it of its assets, run it into the ground, and walk away with a tidy profit while the business goes under and thousands of poor and middle class Americans lose their jobs. …

4) Read Mitt’s lips; He wants a VAT: Like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is open to the same sort of value added tax that has helped drive the tax rates of Western European nations into the stratosphere. …

5) Why support Romneycare and oppose Obamacare? Obamacare is nothing but Romneycare on a larger scale. “Even Mitt’s consultants on Romneycare, like Jonathan Gruber, have admitted that Obamacare is just Romneycare writ large” …

John missed Reason 6, really the most important, which is that Romney didn’t take the oath he swore to uphold the Massachusetts Constitution seriously. He serially violated it by imposing same-sex marriage in the Bay State when it was his duty not to do so until the legislature passed an enabling law — which to this day, it never has. What’s more, Romney violated his oath of office because he promised that he would.

So as conservatives justifiably recoil at Barack Obama’s violations of the Constitution in so many ways, the most recent of which involves his non-recess “recess” appointments of “consumer protection” kingpin Richard Cordray and three National Labor Relations Board members, we’re told that the GOP candidate with a track record of serially violating the Constitution drafted by John Adams is somehow the best and most electable.

No he’s not. He’s the least electable. By far.

Romney won’t just be the “King of Bain” if he somehow gets the nomination. Win or lose (probably lose) against Barack Obama, he’ll also be the “King of (Conservative) Pain.”



  1. Just a few comments:

    While the Occupy crowd may claim they hated the bailouts, the fact is the policies and ideologies they spout make bailouts justified and necessary. Plus, you just know if it went the other way, they’d be crying about all the jobs lost because of the banks and auto companies going down. And they’d blame Bush for it too, of course.

    Second, the attacks on Bain Capital are getting very, very dangerous and very Pyrrhic. Cripes, there is more then enough to go after Mitt Romney for, but now otherwise normal free market supporting conservatives in going after Bain are making anti-capitalist arguments that could have come from Micheal Moore, Ted Kennedy and Obama. They are getting way too close to attacking the American free enterprise system itself. Gingrich is one of the worst offenders right now, his language and posture on the matter is identical to how liberals and Commies caricature and demonize Capitalism. And Gingrich does not have the strong free market credentials so that the the attacks are beyond suspicion. This is not a “Only Nixon can go to China” moment, in fact it makes you wonder if this how he truly feels.

    Hawkins here for another example spouts out “profits aren’t always moral” and then gives three lame supporting examples. Before going into the specifics, this whole “profit” is sometimes “immoral” even when it’s done legally meme is just godawful and simplistic. If we’re going to start saying that some legitimate profit is still bad even though legit, where does it stop? Does that mean we know will defend legal free enterprise, but only when it’s “moral” and “palatable?” To say “some profits are good, other bad” may make you look and sound just and fair and “balanced” and good and non polemic and all other like fluff but it also gives anti-profit demagogues like Moore some moral ground, at a time when we cannot afford to give him and his type ANY.

    In regards to his three examples:

    Strip clubs may not be the most savory or self affirming of places to work, BUT they do provide jobs and even the women (and sometimes male) strippers might find that while their job isn’t soul satisfying, at least it brings them some income that they might need at the time. I won’t say strip clubs are “moral” but they do have beneficial (if many only short term) functions. No. And no, stripping is not akin to prostitution, so don’t give me that, it’s one thing to sell your sex *appeal* and another to actually sell physical sex.

    Guy “shipping jobs off to China” – Great, an anti-free trade riff. A guy “sending jobs” to China creates room for better paying jobs, brings down prices which benefit consumers and shareholders, which in turn frees up and creates more wealth and jobs. Immoral my a^^.

    Effective spammer – Okay, nobody likes SPAM, BUT like with Junk Mail and telemarketers, it provides jobs and provides access to information. Is it a beautiful thing, no. But is it immoral or bad? No. Annoying, but not evil.

    Now if we talking about a guy spamming on his own and illegally, that different but it’s also not legit capitalism anyway. And neither is selling illicit drugs, or providing abortions, or pornography, or any other of the examples people are going to throw at me to tell me I’m wrong.

    In regards to Bain, the idea that what they did is “load it up with debt, strip it of its assets, run it into the ground, and walk away with a tidy profit while the business goes under and thousands of poor and middle class Americans lose their jobs” is a very incomplete and inaccurate description. What they really did in those instances was take companies that were going nowhere and got the most value of out them before they went kaput. Yes, people lost jobs, but they were going to anyway and at least the “vulture capitalists” managed to salvage something out of it, in this case for instance capital that went toward saving other companies that had a better chance of surviving. Plucking carcasses may not be “palatable” to socialists and others of that ilk, but as a last ditch effort it’s better than nothing. Do people really think Bain would have let Ampad alone and not try to “save it” if they had truly felt it could be turned around and make even more money than “stripping” it would? If that’s the case, why didn’t Bain always do that, instead of in many other cases pumping a lot of time and effort and saving or rescuing many other businesses?

    My other problem with that argument is that it implies Ampad and the like if they had been sold to someone else would have done fine and somehow flourished. Putting aside the fact the such a supposition ignores that Ampad and the like were hardly prime candidates for saving for many reason (like the fact they were sold out of desperation) that’s iffy at best, and if such an effort failed people would whine “why didn’t they cut ties and let the company make it’s inevitable fall instead of wasting money and resourceful that could have been used to save some other business that had a better chance of survival?”

    Now, I know Tom did a similar attack on Bain, but I let it go because a) so far it’s only been one time and b) at least Tom made qualifications that others aren’t.

    But this all illustrates why Romney is really a disaster. It’s not because he’ll lose to Obama or that he’ll make a lousy president, but because he is dividing conservatives, causing long time allies to turn against each other, and now has conservatives making the standard crappy anti-Capitalism statements that the far left makes. None of which would be happening if there was a frontrunner GOP we could all easily and steadfastly get behind. And how in the future can we logically and credibly defend Ann Coulter or free market capitalism for instance when in the future they come under attack by the vile left when earlier in our desire to get Mitt we attacked both viciously? We’re ending up being painted in a corner. A lot of damage has already been done. That’s why, more than anything else, Romney, is, has, and will continue to be one of the biggest disasters is the history of the conservative movement.

    Comment by zf — January 18, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  2. #1, I think Hawkins’ arguments on the business front are pretty strong.

    The question isn’t whether running strip clubs is legal, it’s whether it makes sense to make your lead guy someone who made his money that way (even before considering implications re organized crime). Hawkins’s point is that someone doesn’t get a free pass just because they were successful in business. He has to make that argument because there are too many people who are saying that ANY criticism of Romney and Bain is an indictment of ALL capitalism, which is horse manure.

    The question on Bain isn’t whether what they did is legal. It’s whether it makes sense to make your lead guy someone whose firm was seemingly all too willing to roll the dice with otherwise decent companies needing help, their jobs, and their other stakeholders by heavily leveraging them and hoping their cash flow would still enable them to get by — while making sure that you were always in the front of the line for fees and payouts.

    I’m also detecting a tendency to abuse or at the very least heavily lean on the bankruptcy system by a) increasing the chances that things will go south and being willing to take that risk with what is predominantly other people’s money, and b) emerging from bankruptcy smelling like a rose while creditors and public stockholders get nothing.

    At a minimum, these things are not helpful. At worst, they betray a potentially dangerous approach to public governance.

    Comment by TBlumer — January 18, 2012 @ 9:17 am

  3. Also, in context, if Bain’s fail rate is 22% as has been alleged and the overall fail rate is lower, as claimed here, it would either mean that Bain was dumb (not likely) or particularly craven and vulture-like in its approach. I think the evidence of the latter is pretty strong, and Romney really has done nothing to refute it, except cite the few which worked out very well. He’s running for President. He must do better — and if he won’t, he will lose.

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, he has had 17 years to get ready for an attack like this (after Ted Kennedy creamed him with one) and STILL wasn’t ready for it, and has responded poorly.

    Comment by TBlumer — January 18, 2012 @ 9:45 am

  4. Tom,

    Concur that Romney responded poorly. However, I am not exactly thrilled with how the other candidates have pressed this issue. We talk about how Romney has been running forever, but that also means opposition has had that long to formulate a clear argument about why these issue matter. It is one thing for Perry to throw out terms like Vulture Capitalism, but it is important for him to be able to explain why capitalism in general is the best form of economic model but that some acts while legal are not great business practices. You’ve done better on your blog explaining the obvious problems with Romney as our nominee than his opponents and their surrogates. This is not intended to be a defense of Romney, but an indictment of his opponents ability to convince primary voters of Romney’s unelectability. That should have been the primary line of attack since the “establishment” has used the myth of “most electable” as main reason to push his candidacy.

    Comment by Largebill — January 18, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  5. #4 LB, that is a valid point, esp on Perry, who really does seem to have gone over the top in what seems like desperation.

    Newt has done the same too — and yes, by not making the argument clear, they do open the door to an indictment of capitalism in general that isn’t justified.

    Comment by TBlumer — January 18, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

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