photo credit: AFP
While the race for the pleasure of taking on our beleaguered incumbent ramps up, I figured we ought to take a second to look at these men in-depth. We shall start with the front-runner himself, Mitt Romney.
Son to Michigan Governor George Romney, Mitt was raised as a devout Mormon. His mission work, were it for a more traditional faith, would be heralded by conservatives around the country. Instead his faith remains undoubtedly dear to him but shrouded in a bit of mystery (unlike other candidates want to wear theirs on their sleeves).
He’s an Ivy League grad from an affluent family that is unafraid of hard work. His time at Bain reincarnated our present economy, helping upend the domination of companies’ boards and replacing it with the interest of the shareholder. By buying up lagging companies and tweaking them into growth monsters, companies such as Bain buoyed the American economy into the boom of the 1990’s.
But with his successes come scrutiny. Making these businesses better often involved sacking workers which is taboo in current times of heavy unemployment. And ugly practices by Bain (after he had left the company) of lining their pockets while running businesses into the ground, still dog him today.
Post-Bain, he entered politics, and in the meantime, rescued the Olympics from a certain quagmire. His Governorship of Massachusetts was widely portrayed as a massive success (in a much different political environment), weaving his way through a legislature dominated by Democrats. And his Health Care Reform bill was the template on which Pres. Obama based his reform.
And I haven’t even mentioned his personal life because there isn’t much to mention. He’s squeaky clean when it comes to personal affairs with a loving wife and family.
All of this would seemingly make him a dream candidate for the party that heralds Ronald Reagan as their political ‘Lord and Savior’. Instead, Mr. Romney has been pushed by his colleagues in the GOP field, and by voters no doubt, to run away from his most admirable qualities as a pragmatic centrist. Add to this his insistence that we take a hard line with China on currency, that the deficit is what is dragging our economy, and that somehow tax cuts will improve employment, Mr. Romney seems to me to be the wrong man for this country at this pivotal moment.
But he also seems to be the best the GOP currently has to offer. And if Paul Krugman is right that Mitt Romney really is a closet Keynesian, then he most definitely is the best man for the job on the GOP side.
But his lack of ability to connect with voters has left him extremely vulnerable. He often seems out of touch with the common man, likely because he is. His father’s life is one of the American Dream, where hard work and playing by the rules will allow you to succeed in this country, and hopefully will allow your kids to have access to the things you didn’t growing up. George was able to provide Mitt with opportunities that most parents would dream of affording their children. And to Mitt’s credit, he did the most with it. His personal wealth is enviable. But stumping to a man with a family that has lost everything over the past five years will remain his greatest challenge, and ultimately his downfall.