You’ve heard it said that Mitt Romney has great business experience and that is just what we need in a president. Perhaps Obama’s zero business experience is the catalyst for that thinking. You may think it yourself, may have even said it yourself. So let’s look at the presidents with not just some or a little business experience, but at those with quite a lot of it.
Truman owned a haberdashery with a partner for a time, until they went broke. That bit of business experience was the sum of it and in itself didn’t make him a good or even better president, but how he handled the failure of that business did reveal the character of the man. Except for the mortgage held by the Continental Nation Bank, he personally repaid all of the creditors out of later earnings which had nothing to do with the business. He could have declared bankruptcy, but he didn’t consider it to be honorable. The creditors had loaned their money and sold him inventory on credit in reliance on his word that he would pay them back. He wasn’t going to let them down. Truman was a good president but that was due to his core principles as a man, not because of his business experience.
Abraham Lincoln clerked in a general store for a while. It was in that endeavor that he walked 10 miles in the snow to return ten cents to a woman he had mistakenly overcharged. He was also a good railsplitter. He won arm wrestling contests with bigger and seemingly stronger men in the railsplitting line of work. Lincoln’s business experience, such as it was, showed him to be a man of honor and principle. But again, it was his core principles and personal moral code that made him a great president.
In fact, while there may have been several presidents with some, usually very little, business experience, there have been only three presidents with extensive business experience and which they and their supporters hailed as their main qualification to be president. So we should look at those three and ask what sort of presidents they were.
The three were: Jimmie Carter, Herbert Hoover and Warren G. Harding. None of them were presidents of any acclaim, except Harding, and his main claim to greatness is that when the Panic of 1921 set in he was too drunk and too busy with his mistress to get involved in trying to end it. As a result of him staying the course (with his mistress and his bottle) the Panic of 1921 soon found its own cure, and the Roaring Twenties began. So while Harding did well on that score, that was about the only good thing he did and that was by default. As for Jimmie Carter and Herbert Hoover, both were unmitigated disasters.
Obama, with no business experience whatsoever, is also a disaster. The lesson seems to be that unlike knowledge, a little business experience is good but a lot doesn’t correlate much at all with competence in the White House. Those who tout Romney’s business experience to mean he’ll be a great president need to think that through a little.
These two videos are each under 1 minute.
On releasing his tax returns, yes.
On Whether he is a conservative, not so much.
He says he’s conservative when he thinks that’s what you’d like to hear, then says he’s a progressive if you might like that, or a moderate if he thinks that’s what you want. Why doesn’t he just come clean and say he’s a RINO, and that he will sell you out no matter whether you are a conservative, a progressive, a moderate, and independent, or just about any other political persuasion ever thought of. Well, he won’t say that but we already know that anyway.
He’s running for the nomination from the wrong party. He’d really be more comfortable in the Democrat party but I guess that slot was already taken.
The first video was made by the Democrat National Committee and Democrats don’t have a tradition of releasing their tax returns. Clinton never released his, not even as president, and the DNC never thought he was hiding anything. Well, maybe they did but they weren’t going to say so because they didn’t care if he was.
Call this whole story a parable of what is wrong with the Republican Party. People who cut deals which sell out our principles are deemed reasonable, while those refuse to cut deals are called bomb throwers. That’s the term Bush used in endorsing Romney in an oblique swipe at Newt.
The parable is the story of George H.W. Bush’s sell out in 1990 of his 1988 campaign pledge in which he majestically swore “Read my lips, no new taxes.” His deal-making with Democrats that broke his promise is remembered now as one of the greatest political blunders of all time. Newt Gingirch was publicly opposed to the deal in 1990 and the Republican establishment was deeply offended and still hates him for it. Newt opposed the recent sell out by the Republicans on the idiotic two-month extension of the FICA tax deal, handing Obama a PR victory and making themselves look like the gang that can’s shoot straight. Eighty-six house Republicans, mostly the ones elected in 2010 with Tea Party support, voted against cutting the sole funding mechanism for social security. The irony is that Democrats have been accusing Republicans of trying to cut social security for decades, but now it is the Democrats under Obama who are tinkering with the only funds available for paying social security recipients their promised benefits. That the Republican establishment thinks it’s a good idea for Republicans to go along with the Democrats on this shows dramatically how completely nuts they have become.
Now that faction of the Republican party that was so wrong in 1990 is wrong again on the payroll tax and they are wrong in pushing for Romney, the deal maker and sell out of all time, to be the Republican nominee.
It is said that compromise in politics is essential. That is an overstatement. Compromise has it greatest benefit when the fight is over money, such as in litigation over a contract dispute of a tortious injury. But where the principles that one supposedly stands for are what is at stake compromise can mean an abandonment of those principles and the complete loss of faith on the part of one’s political supporters. That’s exactly what happened to George H.W. Bush when he broke his “no new taxes” pledge. He lost a lot and gained nothing. All for the false allure of “compromise.” It was appeasement, and the wages of appeasement can be high.
Thomas Sowell wrote an interesting column yesterday on the all out anti-Newt campaign Mitt Romney has launched in Iowa. Romney, through his SuperPac, has spent more on anti-Newt ads in Iowa than all other candidates combined. These ads seem to be working as Newt’s numbers in the latest Iowa polls show a sharp decline. Professor Jacobson says that “Getting people to hate Newt is the easy part, giving us a reason to vote for Romney is the hard part.”
Thomas Sowell thinks we should be focusing on the present and not the past, even Newt’s past which does have some troublesome spots. He quotes favorably Winston Churchill who said, “If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost.” If we are going to look to the past, concrete accomplishments in office are a better test of a candidates worth. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it “the Clinton surplus” but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
As speaker, Gingrich can take credit for welfare reforms that enabled people stuck in dependency to gain a new birth of freedom and self worth, pride of accomplishment and the personal dignity that comes with that. No small matter which positively affected the lives of thousands who were otherwise condemned to a life of little hope outside of permanent welfare addiction and the sort of wasted existence that entails.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don’t accomplish much, you don’t ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
Concentrating on Newt Gingrich’s past, rather than the nation’s future, could mean a second term for Barack Obama, and that will be a huge loss. Romney is just too close to a re-run of the disastrous McCain fiasco of 2008. Republicans really are the stupid party if they allow it be repeated in 2012.
Pat Caddell has wisely said that Obama will have a hard time getting re-elected in 2012, but he may get enough help from Republicans to pull it out.
I’ve been ambivalent about Gingrich for the usual reasons. He’s smart and he stands up to liberals, gotta love him for that. But he has a massive ego and he’s unpredictable sometimes. A lot of Republican primary voters have gone for Gingrich because they are sick and tired of tongue-tied Republican politicians and candidates who can’t talk very well, or won’t talk much at all, and don’t sound smart when they do talk. Eight years of George W. Bush never answering the idiotic charges that liberals made against him has made conservative Republican voters disgusted with any candidate who can’t or won’t articulate a strong conservative position. They had high hopes for Rick Perry until he fizzled in the debates. Tim Pawlenty crashed in the first debate. More than a few conservatives were thankful when Mitch Daniels dropped out because of his waffling on social issues. Michelle Bachmann was interesting until she jumped the shark with her vaccine diatribe. Romney is not a conservative, everyone knows it and that’s why he can’t get above about 25% in the polls. That’s probably because Romney’s the darling of the Country Club set and The Weekly Standard and those are the establishment Republicans that despise conservatives. Rick Santorum is a good solid conservative but is stuck at 2-3% in the polls because the American people won’t vote for a politician who thumps the Bible at them. Ron Paul is nuts. Herman Cain…well, never mind.
Given the malaise on the right that comes out of all that, Newt began to look good by comparison. His recent smack down of Nancy Pelosi was just the sweetest music to the ears of a conservative. It’s hard to imagine what other Republican candidate you’d get that from. Conservatives want someone who will stand up to Obama just as hard, and Gingrich seems to be the one best equipped to do it.
The tipping point (sorry for using that tired old cliche) for me was the interview Newt gave on the Coffee and Markets podcast yesterday. Newt talked about entitlement reform, the details in Romney’s plan for entitlement reform that he isn’t telling anyone because his candidacy would end the next day if he did, the hubris of Ben Bernanke, Germany’s fantasy of becoming the absolute ruler of the Eurozone, and much more. It was terrific. Several issues every conservative cares about were on brilliant display and Newt had the right answers for every one of them. Now, if he’s elected and will deliver. No guarantee on either of those.
You can listen to the Coffee and Markets podcast from Friday here, and you can also follow a link from there to iTunes where you can subscribe to the podcast, listen on your computer, or transfer it to an iPod or other mp3 player so you can listen in your car or while walking the dog.
New lawyers representing criminals in court usually have to learn a lesson about cross examining police officers. The veteran cops have been inside a court room a lot more than young lawyers have and some of them have courtroom savvy and know how to answer questions in a way the can bite an unsuspecting young lawyer on the ankles. In other words, just because the witness is a grizzled cop who never went to law school doesn’t mean he (or she) isn’t a lot smarter than they look. I was once warned by a senior partner in a firm where I worked that cross examining a particular police officer would require all-night preparation because, “The guy knows how to take your snarky question and shove it right up your ass.”
A good reason for Newt Gingrich’s sudden lease on a new life is his ability and willingness to take on the silly questions he gets from a liberal news reporter (there doesn’t seem to be any other kind) in a Republican debate and shove it not in a body cavity but into the bright sunshine to expose the fatuousness of the questioner. This is all to the delight of conservatives who have long ached for a candidate that refuses to pander to the liberal media. The little over one-minute video clip below shows the best of Newt taking on a dumb question and turning it back on questioner Scotty Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor:
Note the overwhelming difference in the decibel level and duration of the first applause, which was for Scott Pelley, and second and continuing applause for Newt. Newt 1+, Pelley 0-.
This is one of those “I wish I’d said that,” quotes:
Now let me acknowledge, what I’ve said before in this space, that if it came down to it, I’d vote for Mitt Romney. Indeed, if it came down to it, I’d campaign vigorously for him (at least, I’d be vigorous against his opponent). But, my, what a page out of politics-as-stasis. As I’ve said in this space before, Mitt Romney is our Bob Dole, a company man at a moment when the problem is the company. We are living through a serious crisis–really, multiple crises — and many people look at old Mr. Business-as-usual, “is-it-my-turn yet?” Romney and wonder whether he is really up to the job. He deploys a sly, knowing smile when Rick Perry forgets how to count from 1 to 3. He certainly has competent hair — the most competent, I think, of the entire campaign. But what, besides competent hair, can be said for him? That he’s not Obama — true enough, and that fact should not be minimized. BUt think of the relatively small proportion of people who are Obama. That cannot be the distinguishing feature of the successful Republican candidate. What we need is vigor, leadership, and wisdom, not the path of least resistance dolled up with an attractive herbaceous border.
— From Roger’s Rules, 11-12-2011
This line from the above, “Mitt Romney is our Bob Dole, a company man at a moment when the problem is the company,” how brilliant is that? As brilliant as it ever gets, I’d say. Read it again and let it sink in and you’ll agree. “A company man when the problem is the company.” That, exactly and precisely, is Mitt Romney. That is the Mitt Romney problem.
Roger Kimball wrote The Long March; How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s Changed America, a must-read book for anyone with a desire to understand the political world we live in. It’s the best primer to contemporary American politics you’ll find and deserves to rest on your bookshelf next to Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind.
British writer and columnist James Delingpole says: “Don’t, whatever you do, let Romney or Perry get the Republican nomination. Do so and you’re toast. We all are.”
Read the whole thing: If Politics is the Art of the Possible, We’re Toast.
Herman Cain is looking better all the time, but his 9-9-9 plan would be a disaster. It would morph into a 35-25-35 plan soon enough and then we’d be burnt toast for sure.
On the “About Me” page, which can be found at the right, I wrote in November, 2009:
We don’t want to be governed from the left, or from the right, or from the center. We want to govern ourselves. Our founders endeavored to create a new nation of self-governing and self-actualizing people, but the leftist statists in the political class hate that whole idea. They hate the idea that we are in charge of our destiny, not them. Our very liberty is at stake. More now than ever, I fear.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen wrote a book titled, In Search of Self Governance, a couple of months later in January, 2010 in which he said much the same thing: “The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century.”
If most Americans still want to be a self-governing people there is hope for change. Even dictators cannot rule against the will of the people forever. The prospect of reversing the present course and once again being a self-governing people depends on the outcome of the 2012 election. If the current government remains in power that hope is lost, in my view. Not only because the current government is like no previous one in our history in consisting of politicians who do not value and will not protect the ideal of self governance, but also because an electoral victory for its continuation would seem to indicate that the American people have lost their desire for self governance. In that event Scott Rasmussen’s statement from January, 2010 will no longer be true. Nor will mine from November, 2009. The gap between politicians whose aim is to rule over a people willing to be led around by the nose and a people resistant to that arrangement will have disappeared completely.
So what of the current Republican field of candidates to lead the nation? As it appears more and more likely that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee the hope for a return to the founding principles may be a little stronger but not by much, in my view. Can anyone tell me what Romney believes, what his core principles are, whether he even has a core? I don’t think so. Such a hollow man cannot lead a nation back to it founding principles of self governance. It’s doubtful Mitt Romney even has the desire.
With Romney as the Republican’s nominee either the current government will be rewarded for its terrible record of governance, or we will be have a Republican hollow man as president. Neither of these two outcomes is good, and I don’t think anybody can say that one is more likely than the other to happen. Nuts.
UPDATE 10/9: Professor Jacobson offers a more upbeat assessment. Not that there’s any hope the Republican presidential candidate won’t be a dunderhead and a dolt, that’s still seems most likely. There’s not a real conservative in the field that stands a chance of being elected. But Professor Jacobson suggests “Operation Counterweight” to balance the failure of the Republicans to put forth a real conservative. A lot of real conservative candidates will be running for Congress. Conservatives should go all out for them and hope to get a conservative Congress that will stand as a “counterweight” to a half-hearted politically confused Republican president and keep him (there’s no “her” anymore since, sadly, Palin isn’t running and Bachmann jumped the shark with her idiotic vaccine diatribes) from making the mistakes of the past [Bush and his bumbling political correctness will be seen in history as largely bequeathing Obamaism on the country, IMHO]. Ironically, Newt Gingrich is looking better since no conservative remains. The trouble with Newt is his political schizophrenia so that in order to get the solid conservative brilliant Newt we also have to take the weird bumbling idiot Newt that makes political commercials with Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, and occasionally makes stupid remarks such as, “The Age of Ronald Reagan is over.” The age of Reagan can never be over; it’s the last best hope for America.
On this statement by Mitt Romney statement outside a coal-fired power plant when he was governor of Massachusetts: “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant—that plant—kills people.”
Steven Hayward says, at The Eternal Cluelessness of the Romney Mind: “Where to begin with this kind of idiocy? And if we’re going to have that kind of idiocy, why not just elect Al Gore?”
I believe Republicans will be making a huge mistake if they pick Romney as their nominee. John McCain was thought to be the one most likely to defeat Obama in 2008, but Democrats and their pals in the media knew better. They also wanted McCain to be the Republican nominee because they knew Republicans were dead wrong in thinking McCain could defeat Obama. The only Republican in 2008 that could have defeated Obama, if any could that year, would have needed to be a genuine conservative who could articulate conservatism the way Ronald Reagan did, or at least was willing to try. That wasn’t McCain, and it’s not Romney now either.
2012 should be much easier for Republicans with the country now disillusioned and fed up with Obama. But never underestimate Republicans’ ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and choosing Romney could do just that.
Democrats and their media pals are once again letting it be known which Republican they prefer in 2012, and it’s Romney. That should set off alarm bells.
Oh, and David Frum is supporting Romney. That’s the Kiss of Death.