Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Romney-Type Republicans-- Bad At Business, Bad For Business... Even Bad For Republicans Trying To Do Business


The new issue of New York isn't something Bishop Romney's campaign will be xeroxing and handing out to the press corps. The flashy cover story examines ole Willard's business ethics and finds them-- and him... wanting. That's a problem for Republicans at a time when being a boardroom warrior is how they make up for being a chickenhawk and never serving in the military while fiercely advocating that other people's children get their limbs blown off defending corporate prerogatives and market share. Today's first dose of Corey Robin and his analysis of how conservatives think:
The battlefield... is the natural proving ground of superiority; there, it is only the soldier, with his wits and weapon, who determines his standing in the world. With time, however, the conservative will find another proving ground in the marketplace. Though most early conservatives were ambivalent about capitalism, their successors will come to believe that warriors of a different kind can prove their mettle in the manufacture and trade of commodities. Such men wrestle the earth's resources to and from the ground, taking for themselves what they want and thereby establishing their superiority over others.

They're the "captains of industry," borrowing from military jargon. And the most successful" have also been the Robber Barons, borrowing from a less flattering jargon.

Yesterday in the L.A. Progressive Steve Hochstadt asked a simple question: Are Republican candidates good businessmen? Short answer: no, way, Jose. Longer answer: their insane ideology-- take their historical refusal to belief in Science and the resultant scientific censorship for example-- gets in the way of rational business decisions. Pretty simple.

But let's move away from Bishop Romney for a moment and look at another right-wing Mormon career politician, one who is also devoutly committed to seeing a Mormon capture the White House. Like Mitt, {{Buck McKeon}} inherited a fortune from his parents in the form of a chain of country western novelty shops. His mommy and daddy started Howard and Phil’s Western Wear in 1962 and turned it into a retail empire as line dancing became all the craze in certain circles. When Buck and his four brothers inherited the business they drove it straight into the ground. By 1996 Howard and Phil Enterprises Inc. was over $16 million in debt and the McKeon boys were forced to declare bankruptcy. By 1999 they had stopped paying rent to the shopping malls they were located in, were sued, fined, and finally the entire company-- 55 stores in Utah, Nevada and California-- defaulted and was shuttered for good.

According to management consultant Robert Kahn, the Western Wear stores were characteristic of “overexpansion.” “You have one or two operations, and you do above expectations in sales, and suddenly you think you have the magic answer,” he said when interviewed in ’96. The McKeon brothers, however, blamed their business’s demise on-- among other things-- a decline in Japanese tourists.

Despite his family’s very painful and very public bankruptcy, McKeon has tried to make the process even more difficult for ordinary Americans. McKeon voted for Bush's anti-consumer bankruptcy bill in 2005 and against the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, both of which would have helped struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages as part of the bankruptcy process.

Buck McKeon, unlike Mitt Romney, has been a failure in business from the convention, bottom line, perspective. Both have fiscal and economic policies though, that are tailor made to continue dragging the rest of us into the trickle-down mess at whose alter both worship at.

This week, with both Democrats and Republicans demanding Romney make his shady tax returns public, the GOP front-runner got into trouble with another highly public flip flop, this one at the heart of the Republican Party economic jihad. If Romney finally clinches the GOP nomination-- which looks likely, not because anyone likes him outside of the Mormon Empire, but because none of the other candidates are even remotely ready for prime time-- his only path to victory over President Obama goes through Ohio. And despite endorsing Governor Kasich's anti-public employees legislation in the past, Romney infuriated right-wing groups, like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, this week by waffling-- just as polls show support for Kasich's and the GOP's position disintegrating with the public. This reminds GOP voters that Romney is a finger-to-the wind kind of politician with no character and no principles or core beliefs beyond the very narrowest of focuses. It's like a CEO concerned with quarterly profits (and bonuses) rather than a strategic vision for building a strong corporate future. And, that, more than anything describes Mitt Romney's career, both in business and politics. Club For Growth spokesman Barney Keller summed Romney up Tuesday morning with this pointed jab:
“The big problem many conservatives have with Mitt Romney is that he’s taken both sides of nearly every issue important to us. He’s against a flat tax, now he’s for it. He says he’s against ObamaCare, but was for the individual mandate and susbidies that are central to ObamaCare. He thinks that collective bargaining issues should be left for states to decide if he’s Ohio, but he took the opposite position when he was in New Hampshire. This is just another statement in a long line of statements that will raise more doubts about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be in the minds of many Republican primary voters.”

FreedomWorks was even more brutal towards a Republican they're going to eventually have to back for the presidency, like it or not:
Kasich's reforms in Ohio are every bit as monumental as what Governor Walker achieved in Wisconsin earlier this year, and he has earned the support of fans of limited government across the country with this battle.

Governor Romney is clearly not among the fans of limited government.

Earlier today, he refused to offer his support for the Ohio reform agenda. Once again, when conservatives needed him to take a stand, he failed to come through. Maybe the polling wasn't strong enough. Maybe idea of a health care mandate being banned by Issue 3 was just too much for him. Who knows. The end result was that he was unable to offer any support for two important initiatives.

Further complicating the situation was the fact that Governor Romney has previously offered his support for Governor Kasich's reforms.

"My friends in Ohio are fighting to defend crucial reforms that the state has put in place to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low," Romney wrote on his Facebook page in June. "I stand with John R. Kasich and Ohio's leaders as they take on this important fight to get control of government spending..."

So what has changed? Nothing, really, except that now his support actually matters. With the vote is just two weeks away, he appears to have forgotten his previous stance and has reverted to mealy-mouthed Generic Republican. 

Governor Kasich and Ohio need support, and now is Ohio's chance to win this fight. So thank you, Governor Romney, for displaying your lack of principle and pushing Issues 2 & 3 into the national spotlight.

Rick Perry jumped into the fray by crowing on CNN “As a true conservative, I stand with Gov. Kasich in promoting S.B.5 for fiscal responsibility and job creation in Ohio. Gov. Kasich and the Republican leadership of Ohio are to be commended for their efforts.” Right-wing operative Eric Erickson had the knives out immediately: “This is a huge freaking deal. Playing it too safe is finally biting Romney in the rear end. He’s refused to call social security a Ponzi scheme. He’s refused to offer bold economic reform plans. He’s refused to address significant changes in entitlement reforms. His whole campaign has centered around tapioca.” And Brendan Steinhauser, who's quarterbacking the doomed right-wing efforts to win the referendum, is ready to blame the inevitable defeat on Romney's cowardice and opportunism:
“This is a no brainer for any of the Presidential candidates to get behind. We’re disappointed but not surprised in Romney’s lack of support... “They are not going to forget this. These guys are organized, they are working very hard. They’ve made thousands of phone calls, put up the yard signs. They’ve done the groundwork. And when they see Romney not support them, anyone who was supporting him in the election will certainly think twice about it in Ohio. Certainly it shows a lack of principle. It shows a lack of embracing good ideas.”

UPDATE: Another Embarrassing Flip Flop Makes Willard Look Weak

And craven.

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