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Republicans should thank Newt for bringing up Bain now

Republicans should thank Newt for bringing up Bain now

As you know, I knew this day would come.  The only question was whether it would be early enough in the primaries to make a difference, too late in the primaries, or in the general election.

But the day surely was to come when Mitt Romney’s years at Bain would come under scrutiny.  After all, Bain is Romney’s entire claim to business experience, and business experience is Romney’s primary claim to the White House.

Yet the reaction among the conservative punditry to any mention of possible trouble in the Bain narrative was met with indignation that Newt was attacking capitalism.  Charles Krauthammer famously said Newt was talking like “a socialist” for mentioning that Bain bankrupted companies.

The hyperventilated reaction to Newt’s mention of Bain problems was similar to the use of the race card, it was intended to shut down the conversation.  And it did for a while in Iowa, and it provided ammunition to those who didn’t like Newt to begin with.

The argument that Newt was being anti-capitalist was rank hypocrisy from the get-go.  While being a corporate raider — if that’s what Romney was, and it remains to be proven — may be legal and part of capitalism, it is not necessarily the type of business experience that makes one worthy of the White House or helps electability.

It is not anti-capitalist to say that some types of business experience are negatives in a presidential candidate.

Indeed, the very same people who lambasted Newt for making value judgments as to Romney’s business experience were quick to make value judgments as to Newt’s consulting.   Petitioning government for redress, also known as lobbying, is constitutionally protected.  Yet that did not stop the conservative punditry from trying to paint Newt’s consulting for Freddie Mac as rendering him a de facto lobbyist and arguing that such lawful conduct rendered Newt unfit for high office.

It was no more anti-constitutional for the conservative punditry to criticize Newt for allegedly lobbying for Freddie Mac than it was anti-capitalist for Newt to criticize Romney for bad business practices.

So yes, the day has arrived when Romney’s Bain days come under scrutiny.  The Wall Street Journal examines Bain’s successes and failures, Romney at Bain: Big Gains, Some Busts:

Amid anecdotal evidence on both sides, the full record has largely escaped a close look, because so many transactions are involved. The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.

Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost.

Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors—yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

Some of those companies, too, later ran into trouble. Of the 10 businesses on which Bain investors scored their biggest gains, four later landed in bankruptcy court.

I don’t see this necessarily as a game changer.  It doesn’t surprise me that most profits would come from a relatively small number of investments, and bankruptcy is a perfectly legitimate tool to turn around a company.  (added) James Pethokoukis, for one, defends Romney against the thrust of The Wall Street Journal article.

But it does focus on whether this is the type of business experience which makes Romney more or less electable.

A SuperPAC supporting Newt also is rolling out several million dollars in negative ads in South Carolina based on Bain.  Contrary to what some say, the SuperPAC did not create the mini-documentary, it was created by a former Romney confidant and campaign advisor, the SuperPAC  merely bought the rights to it.  So whatever the mini-documentary has to say, it was going to come out sooner or later.

Republicans should be thanking Newt for bringing up Bain now.  Romney’s business narrative either will be vindicated, in which case airing the grievances now will help Romney in the general election, or it will mortally wound Romney’s campaign.  But if Romney cannot withstand scrutiny of his Bain years with a Republican electorate in the primaries, then there is no way he would hold up in the general election.  Better to find out now.

I’m just glad that the day has arrived.  Just as the day will arrive when Romney is forced by public opinion to release his tax returns.

Update: I was reminded that when Perry was rising Romney used Mediscare tactics at a debate. Funny, few of the conservative pundits lashing out at Newt now criticized Romney then (John McCormack of The Weekly Standard was an exception.)

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Comments

I don’t see any reason to cheer this development. The right is eating itself over it’s dislike for Romney. The public–and perhaps Republican voters–who doesn’t follow politics moment-by-moment aren’t going to see all the shades of nuance in “good” business experience vs “bad” business experience.

They’re going to see the right attacking a businessman for doing the kinds of things businessmen do, something they are supposed to be in favor of. And the rest of us cheer them on because, heck, we hate Romney, right?

    valleyforge in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Agree. Fair game to attack fellow Republicans for getting in bed with government entities but not for operating in the free market. Gallup says voters fear government far more than big business, but if they are only hearing attacks from both the left and right it will set the narrative that Romney is some Gordon Gekko. He’s a lot closer to a Warren Buffet, which may be the best defense.

    And Romney was wrong to attack Perry on entitlements. If we can’t have an honest debate on free market assumptions within a Republican primary, the electorate will never hear one.

      jnials in reply to valleyforge. | January 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      I think it is fair to attack Romney on anything he might be attacked for in the general election. You don’t like the thrust of the attack? OK, then hold it against the attacker, but sure as the sun comes up in the morning Obama will be making those attacks. I for one and the good Professor for another don’t want the republican electorate surprised.

        valleyforge in reply to jnials. | January 10, 2012 at 2:15 am

        Then we can look forward to Republicans attacking him for being pro-life, pro-gun, against gay marriage, against tax increases, in support of Medicare reform, and in favor of repealing Obamacare. Just like in the general, right?

        Yeah, no. Problem is Republicans aren’t supposed to attack Republicans from the Democratic position.

    Aarradin in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Its good for Republicans if it convinces people to disqualify Romney NOW, during the primary, and nominate someone that can win against Obama.

    The details of Romney’s Bain deals plays very badly even with Republicans, think how badly it will play with Independents.

    “attacking a businessman for doing the kinds of things businessmen do” I think you’re missing the point. What Romney did disgusts businessmen. They weren’t running companies for profit, nor were they investing in them and profiting off successful business models. What they did was buy companies with borrowed money, pillage the company’s assets to pay themselves enormous dividends, and then sell the company to pay back their loan. Many profitable companies, saddled with millions in new debt as a result of the outrageously huge dividends Romney paid himself and his friends, went bankrupt.

    There is no shortage of former employees of these companies with very sympathetic – and true – stories to tell of how Romney deliberately pillaged their company and let it fail, ruining the careers and pensions of everyone employed. The D’s will run nonstop ads featuring these people. They will be effective because they are true. They will be difficult to counter for the same reason.

      drrogera in reply to Aarradin. | January 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Which businessmen does this disgust? Name some names. Or is this the standard, critics say…line. If you had made that kind of money you will have disgruntled critics. Were the people made permanently unemployed or just temporarily? Was the factory blown up or sold to someone else who could run that business? If no one stepped up, maybe there was no business there worth running.

      If you just want an excuse to get Romney out of the race so your candidate has a chance, try something else. This line is pure OWS entitlement thinking.

Snorkdoodle Whizbang | January 9, 2012 at 11:29 am

I see this as a ‘one, two’ punch… start with Bain and then move on to Romney’s record as Governor of Mass. There’s a reason you don’t hear a lot of touting of his tenure as Governor by the Romney campaign. Running as a ‘Jobs’ candidate and then raising taxes and fees on businesses once you’re in office tends to not play well as a narrative in a Republican primary.

Snorkdoodle Whizbang | January 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

“And the rest of us cheer them on because, heck, we hate Romney, right?”

No… because he’s possibly the weakest candidate. It’s just that his baggage has escaped scrutiny up to this point.

The primary process should be a ‘trial by fire’ that tests all of the candidates with the end goal being the best candidate comes forth. It shouldn’t be a coronation as some would have it be.

    I think the coronation notion is quite overstated.

      Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      “I think the coronation notion is quite overstated.”

      Then you just haven’t been paying attention. There have been those in the media and the blogosphere who have been proclaiming Romney as the inevitable nominee for the last few months.

        I think Ryan is right. He has been paying attention.

        Unfortunately, comments here and elsewhere, including on some other LI threads, strongly suggest that personal disdain for Mitt Romney is what motivates many commenters — and I am not addressing that at you personally, SW.

        I am simply saying that for a number of commenters, they are not being motivated by a legitimate desire to see a thorough vetting process.

        The coronation notion is being used as a flimsy excuse to personally attack Romney. And, I’m not complaining or whining about it either. The more they do it, the more I believe they hurt their own candidates’ chances.

        There were two big losers who came out of Iowa, and I do not include Michelle Bachmann among them. She got into the cage, pressed her case, took some shots, and when she came up short, she headed home. Sure she made some key unforced errors, including the fatal biggie of hiring Ed Rollins.

        But she knocked on destiny’s door. There was no answer. She moved on. Good for her. She’ll be back some day.

        Newt was the biggest loser during Iowa, primarily because he proved to be utterly ill-prepared to compete in the contest on several levels. Yet, he left town sporting a whiny sore loser button. In Iowa, Newt was loaded with lots of ideas and bombast, but he did not have the organization or the money to compete effectively, and then blamed his loss on others, primarily Mitt Romney.

        Like Henry Hill, Newt was trying to pull off a fast one. But his embarrassing failure to qualify for the Commonwealth of Virginia ballot (his home state for the past decade or so) proved to be the final straw prior to the caucus gatherings getting underway because it reinforced the view that he was also woefully unprepared on a macro level – not just in Iowa.

    You are completely wrong about the weakest candidate. Romney is the strongest candidate because he can carry most of the Independents( they are needed for Republicans to win). We Independents will NEVER vote for a self righteous religious fanatic or tea bagging lunatic and or a candidate supported by the same.If the Republican party is foolish enough to put one of these crazies in they will definitely lose in the general election because a lot of Independents will vote Obama or third party.Gingrich is the worst of the pack, a corrupt Washington insider, took millions in deals with Freddy Mac and the healthcare insurance industry as wheeler dealer, consultant, lobbyist? We know the guy is not stable enough to be the president after the Iowa loss. He rode the bubble and claimed he was the nominee(what an ego maniac)bubble popped he left Iowa a whining, defeated man with no delegates. His departing speech was filled with hate and vengeance.Not presidential material. But this was the way he left the house in disgrace with ethic violations. His character really is in question. He did nothing in NH. Now he is trying to destroy another Republican and is willing to spend 3.5 mil someone gave his PAC. Ron Paul is a good man, honest, good ideas on closing foreign bases, bringing home all troops, stopping all foreign aid, revisiting all failed free trade agreements an renegotiate them into fair trade agreements.He could pull Dem’s who don’t like Obama, Independents, Libertarians(has to run on this ticket,only party on all state ballots) of course all Ron Paul Republicans and some Republicans politically savvy enough to know a vote for a Republican would be WASTED therefore they would vote third party so their vote would count against Obama. America is ready for a third party be it Ron Paul or Donald Trump. This corrupt corporate controlled two party system has to go.

According to Sarah Palin.

Palin said the mainstream media would take a hands-off approach to Romney “in order to bolster Romney’s chances” to “finally face Obama.”

According to Palin, the mainstream media and Obama would then portray Romney as someone who is out of touch with regular Americans in the general election.

“They are already gearing up to portray him, accurately or inaccurately … as being out of touch with the working class,” Palin said, nothing that Romney’s wealth and perfect family may make it easy to paint him as someone “being a bit out of touch from working and middle class Americans and from the challenges we all face.”

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=48638

Sounds like a Democrat/Media Complex attempt to shove a “McCain Rewind” down the throat of Republicans.

    valleyforge in reply to logos. | January 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I’m sure that’s true, but the media will do that to any Republican and quite frankly none of them are better at handling these attacks than Romney. If it’s Santorum, they’ll tear him apart on social issues. If it’s Gingrich, they’ll tear him apart on his past statements. If Perry, they’ll make him look like a Neanderthal. If the best rap they have on Romney is that he’s rich and fired people at least it’s focusing on his work outside government and sets up a good contrast with the community organizer-turned-dictator Obama.

    retire05 in reply to logos. | January 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Again, no courage in stating the obvious, is there?

DINORightMarie | January 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I agree. Romney needs this vetting, to expose ALL his past, his “warts” if you will, before the OFA and Obama piranhas get a-hold of him.

I’ve said it numerous times, as have you, Professor; but Sarah Palin expresses it better than I ever could:

Sarah Palin: Obama and the MSM want Obama to face Romney in the general election.

This early exposure to this class warfare chum is healthy and essential, should Romney be the nominee. And, in response to those Republican talking heads who say this is “baaaaad”: get a clue! This is powder-puff compared to what will happen when the “pros” get going (Axelrod, Dunn, and Co.).

Sorry for the vulgarity (I try to avoid it, really)….but:

Grow a pair, and stop being the “party of stupid” personified.

Going after Romney’s time and Bain and as Governor is perfectly legitimate as long as they are arguments that come from the right and center. The media will take care of the left-wing arguments just by bringing the issue up. Newt’s tactic should be to make it an issue to the degree the media can’t ignore it and must use much of it’s ammunition early before the nomination process it over. Then we will know for sure if Romney can withstand the real trial come the end of the year.

This country wasn’t founded nor its muniments formed by businessmen. Republicans need to get away from the notion or implication that the country needs to be managed like a business. This is not to commend any other line of work as the proper prerequisite, but businessmen are typically neither notably ethical or classicly liberal or philosophically inclined on subjects such as individual freedom and the Constitution.

There are always exceptions. There have been great and philosophic executives. My father was one, a rarity. Romney isn’t one of them. Romney is a brittle, insecure and preening phony obsessed with his father’s visions of executive political power. As Newt observed, he’s spent 20 years and untold personal millions (he paid $100 per vote in Iowa; Santorum paid 73 cents — who’s the better businessman?) striving for political power yet without any particular or well-articulated conservative purpose or passion other than ambition.

    drrogera in reply to raven. | January 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Raven, you are saying that Jefferson, Adams, Franklin etc… were all career politicians who never ran businesses? Maybe I read the wrong biographies. Can you tell me where you get the idea that Patrick Henry, Madison, or any of the “Founding Fathers” and thought leaders of the times were NOT businessmen?

While there are some good points to the process used by “corporate raiders” (admission: I own some stocks that should be raided because they have remained static and issued no dividends for over 10 years), a large part of the methods used by “corporate raiders” is part and parcel of the current state of our financial industry: the generation of debt.

Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are a ready made target for the brand of “class warfare” that Obama has been warming up for the past year or so.
Statements like that of MSNBC’s O’Donnell saying that

“Romney is the one they don’t want. They know they can beat anybody else. Romney, they think they can beat, but it’s a harder road.”

are utter BS.

    raven in reply to Neo. | January 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I agree. Complete BS. They’re salivating for Romney.

      drrogera in reply to raven. | January 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      Then why are the Dems ONLY attacking Romney? Do you see any ads against Santorum. Perry or Paul? No, they want them to win because they will be easier. As for Newt – they have a pile a mile high just waiting to see if he gets the nod. (Ethically obtained or not)

      I can vote for Romney, Santorum, or Perry. I would prefer not to have Ron Paul as President but some of what he says needs to be considered (Fed manipulation and Constitutional Adherance.) I liked what we saw from Cain and Bachmann, but Newt is just an angry foolish blowhard who will be an easy target for Liberals.

      In case anyone can’t tell – I dislike Newt and have for 15 years. I agree with his first two wives: No Newt is good Newt.

If Republicans do not educate the electorate about business practices, who will? Uneducated voters become tools or fools for Democrat leftist nonsense. I am not a Romney supporter, but let all the economic “good” and “bad” he and his company created be vetted.

I don’t like “Corporate Raiders”; I believe they take too much for themselves (“greed”) by feeding off the weakened. But my dislike may arise from my ignorance. Detritus from “death” must be cleaned up or we would be overwhelmed. “Weak” or “diseased” parts must be pruned/cured to protect the healthy.

First, I don’t like Raiders who take big bucks for themselves while sticking the tax payer with the pension failure — most of their “profits” should have been tied to all the company’s “debts”. Again this may be ignorance on my part; I am willing to be enlightened.

Second, I see these guys as taking over boards and shareholder meetings and voting for themselves. I see it as something like the AGW fraud where the leftists took over boards of (all) environmental agencies, professional societies, science journals and then voted them in support of the unscientific, unproven “global warming – evil CO2 – evil human development” scam.

Do they (did Romney) strengthen capitalism/the free market or did they feed off the “end of a profitable era” (1945-1977, thereafter we lived with bubbles and crashes)? Are they enabling us to pick up the good pieces while developing a new economic strategy built on vastly abundant energy resources and our technology momentum? Or are they minimizing what “good” citizens might have preserved from the old order while pocketing it for themselves?

    imperialist libertarian in reply to pyromancer76. | January 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Bain Capital played in two sectors – they worked as venture capitalists providing funding to new businesses and they worked as a private equity firm buying existing companies/divisions and trying to make them better businesses.

    You’re questioning the PE side, denounced by leftists and entrenched management as corporate raiders. Jim Geraghty highlights the issue well http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/287583/gordon-gekko-would-have-fit-occupy-wall-street Shockingly a Leftist like Oliver Stone completely misunderstood capitalism and by attempting to write a denunciation he wrote one of the best defenses of the so-called Corporate Raider.

    PE firms buy companies when they’re troubled. Either the owners need to cash out but the firm isn’t fit for an IPO or a sale to another firm, or the firm is failing and needs new capital with substantial appetite for risk. PE doesn’t buy firms that are expected to be long term survivors and heavily profitable. They want low purchase prices and large opportunities – you can’t buy Google today and have a very good chance of making it 5 times more valuable.

    PE can change industries thanks to their longer term approach than the public markets. PE firms have access to capital markets on good terms, so they can raise money easier and at lower rates than the firm’s they invest in could as independents. They have experienced, talented management that is generally beyond the reach of the firms they invest in.

    Essentially PE represents a more disciplined form of conglomerates. Old conglomerates bought disparate businesses, had management with little equity stake, splurged on executive perks, and had little strategic direction. PE brings the advantages of a conglomerate (capital, executive talent, diverse returns) while the focus on returning capital to limited partners over the medium term eliminates the tendency towards waste and empire building and at the same time focuses strategy for each unit.

    Much of the time a PE investment won’t work, but as noted that’s because they’re firms that are already spiraling downward. Sometimes the investment will look like a success but then a few years later a new owner or market changes will cripple it.

    PE provides more disciplined capital, reduces the waste that comes from entrenched management, and forces us to accept reality when a firm just isn’t working. A corporatist state is one where all firms continue on forever. That’s the Obama model, slipping funding to cronies for dubious ideas. Markets need bad firms to go out of business. The zombie auto firms and airlines are destroying their industries because healthy firms can’t compete with the subsidized and bailed out ones.

    PE is like a cardiac ER. They’ll take serious measures to save the firm, putting in effort that others can’t or won’t, but they’ll also have the courage to see when further effort is futile. We don’t blame ER docs for the fact that they have a lot of code blue patients die, we celebrate them for the fact that some return to normal life. The same treatment should be given to PE firms in general and Romney in particular.

Would some pro Romney bot please give me 5 half way decent reasons to vote Mitt?

He can beat Obama is not a reason, because I don’t see that, and that he is a republican doesn’t work either.

Jonah Goldberg tweets my exact thoughts:

“I’m not a huge Romney booster but I find the gang up on Bain Capital to be really lame.”

Avik Roy repurposes a familiar conservative phrase, Romney Derangement Syndrome:

“A number of commentators have been remarking on how rarely Mitt Romney gets attacked by his opponents in the GOP debates. What’s even more remarkable is what the other candidates are attacking Romney for. Instead of calling Romney to account for his health-policy mistakes, they’re going after him for his . . . successful business career?

Romneycare, by far the largest problem with Romney’s record, was barely discussed in the last two debates. Perhaps this is because both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have previously supported the individual mandate — Santorum in the 1990s, and Gingrich as recently as May 2011 — neutralizing their effectiveness as anti-Romneycare crusaders. But this problem has led Santorum and Gingrich to attack Romney for the things conservatives should most appreciate about him.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/287565/romney-derangement-syndrome-avik-roy

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    What drivel.

    Jonah Goldberg tweets my exact thoughts:

    “I’m not a huge Romney booster but I find the gang up on Bain Capital to be really lame.”

    -So I guess we’re not supposed to look into his past as a businessman? If it’s so lame, why the outcry? I guess we shouldn’t wonder why he doesn’t want to release his tax returns either?

    “they’re going after him for his . . . successful business career?”

    -No, they’re going after his business practices. Big diff, Biff.

    “Romneycare, by far the largest problem with Romney’s record, was barely discussed in the last two debates.”

    -Last time I checked, it was the moderators who determined the line of questioning… not the folks on the stage.

    “Perhaps this is because both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have previously supported the individual mandate — Santorum in the 1990s, and Gingrich as recently as May 2011 — neutralizing their effectiveness as anti-Romneycare crusaders.”

    – Well, than what exactly does that say about Romney’s effectiveness as an anti-Obamacare crusader!?!?!?

    Seriously… do these folks actually get paid to produce this pablum?

      Romney’s record at Bain is perfectly legitimate to scrutinize, but the criticism should come from the Right’s point-of-view, not the Left’s. Perry and Gingrich’s attacks come off as bizarrely anti-business.

      “Last time I checked, it was the moderators who determined the line of questioning… not the folks on the stage.”

      Candidates control their own messaging. A campaign that outsources its message to a debate moderator has already lost.

        Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

        “Romney’s record at Bain is perfectly legitimate to scrutinize, but the criticism should come from the Right’s point-of-view, not the Left’s.”

        Some would say that the criticism could also be seen as legitimate from an independent voter’s perspective. And to say the ‘attack’ was anti-business is cherry picking in the extreme. The ad I saw made it clear that the concern wasn’t with capitalism, but with ethical business practice.

        “Candidates control their own messaging. A campaign that outsources its message to a debate moderator has already lost.”

        So you’re saying Romney is much more concerned about gay marriage than the economy or the power grabs by the President? ‘Cause that’s what I heard them talking about at the debate. Nice apples/oranges comparison you threw in there. Candidates and campaigns control their own messaging… but debate moderators control the line of questioning at the debate. Surely even you can see that. I assume you’ve been paying attention at the debates, though your comments thus far tend to indicate otherwise.

          Rush spent 15 minutes today on how the ABC moderators asked NO questions of the candidates on the economy, unemployment, foreign policy, etc. He claims the purpose was to prompt Northeastern Republicans to rid the party of social conservatives.

          RUSH: Stephanopoulos got booed as he kept pursuing that line of questioning on contraception — and again, this is Saturday night at the ABC debate. Meanwhile, none of the moderators asked a single question about the national debt. None of them asked a single question about the jobless rate. None of them asked a single question about Obama’s economic policies or the economic condition of the country. Every question, or the vast majority of them, had to do with these innocuous social issues. Here’s what happens when that occurs: You have your Northeastern Republicans watching the debate. They see Stephanopoulos asking these questions about contraception; and their reaction is, “See? We gotta get rid of the pro-lifers! We’ve gotta get them out of the party.

          read the rest at:
          http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/01/09/democrat_hacks_host_gop_debates

          I don’t think the distinction is as clear as you think it is. I’m told (though haven’t listened myself yet) that even Rush Limbaugh–no Romney fan he–is bothered that Gingrich is using the language of the left. We don’t need our own side acting as proxy for Obama.

          As to your other complaint, candidates don’t need to wait for a debate to attack Romney, nor has every debate been disproportionately focused on gay marriage, nor do candidates always stick to the question that was asked. And anyway, there’s been roughly 20 of them. How many opportunities do you need as a candidate before you take one?

          If Romney truly has escaped the entire presidential primary season untouched (a dubious assertion), then his opponents only have themselves to blame.

        punfundit in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

        Being “anti-business” does not make one anti-capitalist. “Business” is not of itself an expression of free enterprise. Governments engage in “business” (e.g. China) but that does not mean they embrace market liberalism.

        Being “anti-business” can mean a number of possibilities, such as opposing mercantilism, corporatism, and crony politics.

    raven in reply to Ryan. | January 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    “Jonah Goldberg tweets my exact thoughts:

    “I’m not a huge Romney booster but I find the gang up on Bain Capital to be really lame.”

    Too bad. Take it now or take it later.

    This little elitist priss has escaped anything but the velvet glove while he’s poured millions into the trashiest heap of trash ever dropped on fellow republicans.

    Now he can take it and like it.

Clearly Newt is now in the Perry view of things (ie Sore Loser) – I can’t win so I’ll just tear down Romney. When Newt goes negative he also goes stupid. I for one still blame him for failing the party when it was spending too much (Santorum too).

Yes, the Bain days deserve scrutiny. As I recall, Bain is not a corporate raider as much as it is an investment firm. Like most investment firms a 20% success rate is normal if not above normal. What happens to the other 80%? They close, sell or go out of business. Usually these result in layoffs and downsizing. Does this mean those folks never find another job? No. SO then why is closing a failing business a crime in the mind of Newt and Perry?

But anyone who believes all investors should provide jobs for life is a Liberal, entitlement state, socialist.

Now go complain about Solyndra without hypocrisy.

    Jaydee77 in reply to drrogera. | January 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you.

    While I was on the Newt bandwagon for a good month, his last three weeks have proven to me that he is an absolutely insufferable person. Sore loser is right on the mark. This is a hail mary if you will and I cannot understand why they are trying this now rather than 4 months ago. Its beyond pathetic.

    I saw Romney do a long interview last night on Bloomberg and I am absolutely convinced he can win. Paired with a Rubio I think they can win quite easily. But, he can only win if everyone quits this infighting. Nobody wants the bumbling baffoons from Texas or Alaska. Nobody wants the scorched earther from Georgia. Nobody wants the racist loon from TX-14.

    Circle the wagons folks. Romney is the guy. Deal with it.

      You fell for the surrogates/minions ploy.
      What Newt is doing now is exactly what Romney’s minions have been doing for 6 weeks now.

      raven in reply to Jaydee77. | January 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Circle your own wagons. I’d expect nothing less from Romney supporters anyway.

      Romney is a loser and he’s going down — now or next November. Deal with it.

      logos in reply to Jaydee77. | January 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      “Nobody wants the bumbling baffoons from Texas or Alaska. Nobody wants the scorched earther from Georgia. Nobody wants the racist loon from TX-14.”

      Speak for yourself.

      I’ll take any of them in a heartbeat – but the oddball from TX-14.

    imfine in reply to drrogera. | January 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Right and when Newt looked like he was going to win, was Romney being an insufferable “sore loser” by pillaring him with negative ads instead of making the case for his own candidacy? I think not. Its time for the latest star to fall so the next guy can have his rise.

Henry Hawkins | January 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Questions:

1. What specifically about Romney’s business experience prepares him for the presidency?

2. Did Romney’s vaunted business experience lead to economic/job growth in Massachusetts?

3. Presumably/hopefully knowing that government doesn’t create jobs, but gets itself out of the way of job creation by the private sector, what did Governor Romney do in Massachusetts to create a better environment for business, therefore, for jobs? Did he lower corporate taxes? Did he reduce regulations?

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    A simple review of his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts would provide the answers to points 2 and 3.

    And no… the answers are not good for a candidate for the nomination of the Republican party in this particular economic climate.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Snorkdoodle Whizbang. | January 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      I’m aware of Romney’s exact numbers in MA. I was hoping a Romney supporter would at least try to spin them. The questions are tongue in cheek.

      Romney’s claim to fame is his business acumen and how it will power his performance in the White House. His acumen did Massachusetts little good and he could not win reelection in a state that elects Republican governors 2/3s of the time.

    valleyforge in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    These are the wrong questions to ask. In the general, the question will be “what has Obama done to improve the economy”? People will either think he has or hasn’t done anything useful. The specifics of Romney’s experience won’t be relevant to that question, but his general background will be relevant to answering the next question: “Okay, Obama sucks, but is the alternative acceptable?”.

    And if you are posing those questions in a primary context, who would be better on those points other than Romney? Gingrich has no real business experience, Cain self-destructed, Huntsman was just in his family’s business, and the others have no significant business experience. And only Huntsman and Perry have been governors whose job records can be measured against Romney’s and you probably think one or the other of them is unacceptable.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to valleyforge. | January 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      I’m challenging the presumption that a businessman is necessarily the best presidential candidate for a country in fiscal trouble.

      A president deals in many magisteria – budget & taxes, defense, foreign policy, domestic policy, and so on. There has never been and will never be a US president expert in all the required areas. Every president relies on advisors.

      Massachusetts elected Romney as governor based in the errant presumption that a businessman was what was needed. Romney failed to perform. The record of his time in Massachusetts is clear and one term was all they wanted of Mitt Romney. America may be about to make the same mistake based on the same errant presumption.

      Nominate Romney and: Obama 52% Romney 48%

The great thing about this for Obama – Now he will be able to say, “Even your own Republican Party members think you are awful for putting people out of work.”

Way to go lifetime GOP politicians – when you are stupid, you really go stupid all the way.

    markn in reply to drrogera. | January 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Yes, and the Obama camp probably have LI on their bookmark list now. Vetting is fine — vetting is good — but this place now seethes with Romney hate.

    DINORightMarie in reply to drrogera. | January 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Oh, please, give me a break! Obama, OFA, and Axelrod & Co. have been planning this forever! It is the most easy, facile battle plan – anyone with an ounce of common sense can see it!!

    Obama WANTS Romney to be the nominee. The MSM WANT Romney to be the nominee! Why? Let me spell it out for all those too naive or blind to see it:

    1. RomneyCare=ObamaCare – takes that right off the table as a viable, debatable issue. All Obama has to say is “Thanks to you, Mitt, we had a perfect model for the nation’s first affordable health care to provide healthcare to our nation” – and Mitt’s dead in the water.

    2. Romney is WEALTHY. Not just rich, WEALTHY. He has family money on top of his earned money. He is the penultimate image of “the 1%” the OWS useful idiots have been demonizing – with the MSM helping them along, of course.

    3. Romney is a “Wall Street fat cat” earning his business chops at Bain Capital – the left’s EPITOME of the vallanous, heartless, greeeeeeeeddddddyyyyy eeeeeevvvvviiiiillllll devils that have been Rule 13-ed for over a year now!

    3. The whole Harvard-grad, Dad was a pol, hatchet-happy, greedy businessman, “too perfect to be real,” never stops campaigning insider Republican image that Romney personifies to a T is exactly what the left has been BEGGING for!!

    4. The lefties and useful MSM idiots keep saying, “We don’t want to go against Romney! He will be too tough!!!” (see post above about Rachel “the Tool” Maddow at MSNBC) – total reverse-psychology CRAP! They attack those who they are afraid of, and tell you the exact opposite about those they want most. “….said the Spider to the Fly…..” – where the Spider is the Leftist and the Fly is the Gullible Repub.

    5. There are numerous sound bites and clips of Romney himself making elitist and contradictory statements: elitist, foolish things that both contradict what he is saying now AND that show he is NOT what he has been selling himself in this election cycle to be. The “I’m a progressive” clip comes to mind….. Flip-flopper, elitist, thin-skinned, tone-deaf – all variations on the theme of “THIS is the REAL Romney.”

    Need I go on?! It is too easy. And believe me, if I see it, the left has that and more just waiting in the wings!!

    Romney has more self-contradictory words, more anti-Romney ads that Teddy Kennedy and others (think McCain) have made about him – that were supremely effective! – which makes him the perfect foil to Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric.

    The Dem leftists are hoping that the Republicans will be as predictable as ever, will go with their “next in line” and not see the obvious battle plans and obvious total destruction and defeat that is laying out right in front of their eyes!!

    How can anyone not see it? Blind, stupid party, I guess.

      “The MSM WANT Romney to be the nominee!”

      Yes, just as McCain was the media-selected Republican candidate in the primaries in 2008. All that changed when he became the Republican candidate in the general election.

      Be very wary of falling for the same trap.

With all due respect to Prof. Jacobson, there’s no moral equivalence between Mitt’s criticism of Newt for taking Freddie Mac’s money and Newt’s criticism of Mitt for supposedly causing workers to lose their jobs. The main difference (as Mike Hinton alludes to above) is that Newt’s attack on Mitt lent credence to the OWS-style claim that capitalists and entrepreneurs are bad guys who only make money by destroying the livelihoods of average working folk. Newt was implying that Romney was one of these bad guys himself, and therefore should somehow make restitution to the people whose jobs he destroyed.

Romney’s criticism of Newt was of a completely different nature because it didn’t advance the liberal narrative about Freddie Mac. Conservatives know that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are basically wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. The point of Mitt’s attack was that a supposedly conservative leader like Newt should not have had his hand in the cookie jar of an outfit that was ruining the American economy at the same time it was enriching the personal finances of countless well-connected democrats who landed jobs there.

To get an equivalence with the Bain comments, Mitt would have had to, for example, criticize Newt for belonging to the NRA, “an organization that helps send thousands of young people to their graves every year”: IOW, a criticism that takes as its premise an outlandish claim liberals make about conservatives.

    raven in reply to Conrad. | January 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    “To get an equivalence with the Bain comments, Mitt would have had to, for example, criticize Newt for…”

    Wanting to scrap child labor laws and return to America to a Dickensian horror show?

    Scaremongering senior citizens by equating Rick Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” comment with a secret plan to scrap social security?

    Those were boilerplate leftist talking points Romney lifted to smear fellow republicans.

    Nothing like the nuanced criticism of vulture capitalism.

    This stinking little Janus-faced elitist who gets bent out of shape when someone encroaches on his “time” in debates can now take his beating.

    Beat on, Newt!

    Neo in reply to Conrad. | January 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Conservatives know that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are basically wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party.

    This has now been replaced by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Expect every out-of-office Democrat to go on the CFPB dole.

Windy City Commentary | January 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

C’mon already; hit Romney on being the architect of Obamacare. Geez, the biggest issue of the Obama presidency fraught with corn-husker kickbacks, etc., etc. and we are all going to get blasted by it in 2014, and we’re about to nominate the guy who set the example of socialized medicine in the U.S.?

There have got to be some horror stories in Massachusetts as a result of Romneycare. Point them out, and tell Republican voters how it is coming our way in 2014, and we should nominate someone who is prepared to fight Obama on it in the General Election. Mitt Romney is only going to be an apologist for socialized medicine and he’ll lose the election as a result and then Obamacare will take over our healthcare from 2014 until death.

William Daley to step down as Obama’s chief of staff
I guess Obama won’t (heart) business any more

Reliably lib-dem Vanity Fair has an article on Mitt this month and if it is the best that they can do he should be in pretty good shape. I wish Newt would tone it down a bit (remember RR’s words “tho shall not…). I think Mitt/Newt would be a good ticket. He would be an Agnew-like VP would would say what is on his mind (something Joe B tries to do, but he doesn’t have a mind).

[…] Gingrich attacks Romney for being rich like a Democrat would.  William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, a Newt supporter, cheers him on.  John Huntsman, the son of Jon Huntsman, Sr., founder of […]

Thanks, imperialist libertarian (January 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm). I would like to see a whole lot more of this assertive good sense put forward by all Republicans. Next question, did Mitt do this well? Also, did he create anything — including jobs? Does his 100,000 claim stand up to scrutiny. Few Presidents have been business people probably because governing requires a range of talents. Romney has shown these talents in Massachusetts. How well did he do? “Massacare” ought to eliminate him right up front as someone who honors free market principles.

The issue remains of greedy elites and libertarians seem to think it is no problem. The free market does not operate in a vacuum, but in the United States of America, in a political sphere that can provide some refereeing. If greedy winner take all every time, soon most people become losers. We might have learned something from the Robber Barons of the 19th century.

EdMorrissey of Hot Air:

“I’m not going to vote for a Republican in this primary that attacks capitalism. Simple as that.”

RBPundit of TheRightSphere:

“UGH. Perry’s campaign is disingenuously using the Romney ‘firing’ audio. DOUBLE UGH!”

Prof,
My major concern though is from some of the clips of the video I’ve seeen (as used in ads by the Newt supporting PAC) tend to show a positon that attacks Romney on populist grounds. And I hate populism. Some old lady says “I don’t think it’s far that got fired and had to leave my house by someone who has 15 houses.”
SERIOUSLY? REALLY? C’mon. That’s thinly veiled class warefare rhetoric. I was tepidly supportive of Newt, until that. Now I’m just thinking “Great, no matter how this election goes down people are going to be fighting over wealth.”
Wonderful. :Sigh: I guess I’ll just have to go back to my secret lair with the rest of the people from my generation and try to reboot the republican party again.

I suppose you can make an argument that vetting Romney on Bain now is better than leaving it to the Dems if Romney is the nominee. Who knows, if Romney parries it successfully, it could be the sort of “old news” charge that gets little traction in the fall. Maybe, but I doubt it.

Because what Gingrich and Perry are doing now is legitimizing the Bain as evil greedy corporate raider charge. When the Dems make the charge, it won’t be discounted by voters as merely partisan hot air, because Republicans have validated it. All they need to do is to include Gingrich and Perry’s words in their ads — he “looted companies” to get rich, taking “all the money” and leaving ordinary workers “with unemployment checks.”

Apart from the issue of whether this shows that Newt or Perry are less enthusiastic about free markets and entrepreneurship than they pretend, there is also the little matter of whether Bain’s private equity investment business was — or is — that of a rapacious Gordan Gekko-like Wall Street financial engineer, buying up companies with valuable assets using cheap junk bond debt only to bleed the assets and discard the remnants. It would be nice if people engaged this issue with a few facts. To get us started, here is a partial list of the companies in which Bain Private Equity has invested:

Accellent
HD Supply
Air Medical Group Holdings
Hero Investments
AMC Entertainment
Himadri
Applied Systems
Ideal Standard
ASIMCO
IMCD
Bellsystem24
International Market Centers
Bombardier Recreational Products
JinSheng International
Brakes Group
Lilliput Kidswear
Brenntag
MEI Group
Bright Horizons
Michaels
Broder Bros., Co.
MYOB
Burlington Coat Factory
NXP
Casda Biomaterials
OSI Restaurant Partners
Cerved
Quintiles
China Fire and Security Group, Inc.
Securitas Direct
Clear Channel Communications
Sensata Technologies
Contec
Sinomedia Holding Limited
CRC Health Group
SkillSoft
Cumulus Media
Skylark
D&M Holdings
Startronics
Domino’s Pizza Japan
SUNAC
Dunkin’ Brands
SunGard
Edcon
Suntel
EPOCH Holdings
Suzhou HiPro Polymers
FCI
TeamSystem
FleetCor
The Weather Channel
GA PACK
Toys “R” Us
GOME
Trinseo
Guitar Center
Unisource
Gymboree
Village Ventures
H3C Video Surveillance
Warner Chilcott
HCA
WorldPay

huskers-for-palin | January 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

will this film be available on-line or in DVD? Would love to get one.

The fact is that Bain wasn’t attacking viable companies, they were targeting failing companies whose management invited them in. In most cases, they were able to save the companies and turn them around. But turning them around did involve laying off excess workers and in some cases cutting the fringe benefits to what the company could afford. Some people lost their jobs, others kept jobs at lower total compensation.

Without intervention, all the employees lose their jobs.

In 22% of the cases, the companies ended up going bankrupt anyway. As is typical in these “White Knight” deals, Bain was guaranteed their money back first, and a profit, too – they weren’t out playing Santa Claus, they were trying to make money and nobody risks millions without some prospect of recovery. These are the companies whose assets were sold off. Some survived in smaller form, others did not.

8% failed and Bain lost their entire investment because they were unable to find enough value to save anything.

It’s one thing to be genuinely sympathetic to those “down-sized” in restructuring, but quite another to prefer the whole company close instead – sounds like a “fairness” argument.

Now, there are sure to be unhappy people among the 78% of companies saved from bankruptcy, and even more among those who were not. But Gingrich and Perry and Huntsman aren’t interested in the details of any given transaction, they haven’t researched the particulars – and not one of them is remotely qualified to evaluate the transactions and processes if they did.

These guys are using class warfare rhetoric that could have come from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Barack Obama. They are attacking the essential functioning of capitalism for personal political benefit alone.

Spin it all you want. Call Media Matters for help.

It should also be noted that companies are more than their labor force. Investors and bondholders were also at risk, as were the executives and owners who in some cases built the businesses from scratch and had their life savings in them, and the localities where they were located.

These investors are the ones who Romney built into his impressive national fundraising network. They aren’t “establishment Republican” donors, many never gave to politicians before Bain saved their butts – but they are darned grateful now.

Occupied Territory | January 10, 2012 at 7:09 am

Let Obama bring this up in the campaign. Romney should be so lucky. The One’s record in job desctruction includes:
GM dealerships
Chrysler dealerships
Untold oil and gas workers in the gulf
Solyndra
Light Squared…

There’s many more. Probably many environmentally related. Obama also ships jobs offshore:

Oil and gas development to Brazil
Military aircraft to Brazil
Keystone pipeline

Occupied Territory | January 10, 2012 at 7:11 am

Oops. Ok Canada is not “off shore” as with Keystone, though some of those related jobs would be in China instead of the US.

NC Mountain Girl | January 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Operations like Bain only like capitalism when the decks are stacked to make sure they will at least break even. In addition to taking an equity position in the target they also charge very hefty consulting fees. Check out those losing deals and you’ll see Bain often did very well for itself even if employees, creditors and the federal pension insurance program did not.

[…] I think Governor Romney will have to defend what he did at Bain. That’s his record. He’s proud of the fact that he wasn’t in public office while I was- fine. He can take […]

[…] Mitt Romney cannot stand up under the vetting process and he is the nominee, we are going to go down like […]

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