George Romney built things. George Romney served his community. Governor, you're no George Romney.
In Presidential elections, every candidate has their defining moment.
Campaign 2012 carries echoes of 1988 - and 1968.
First 1988. Before there was Sarah Palin, there was Dan Quayle.
An epic moment of political theater, in an election fast on the way to taking its place among the annals of great Dem defeats. The last election prior to the party's co-opting by its neoliberal center – though many already considered Lloyd Bentsen of Texas to be the party's grand concession in that direction. A Hail Mary heave by the flagging Dukakis campaign to pry Texas' 38 electoral votes away from George H.W. Bush.
Quayle is the man who decides to enter politics after viewing Mike Ritchie's The Candidate and becoming enthralled with the Robert Redford character. A movie he apparently completely misses the point of. theatlanticwire.com
Benson's riposte to Quayle's likening himself to Jack Kennedy has outlasted any memory of the campaign itself.
Flash forward to campaign 2012. Gaffes are said to occur when a politician says what they feel. Citizen Romney fractures America into the portions he doesn't care about, ignoring the portion whose votes he needs, while acknowledging the tiny portion he represents.
The Citizen tells a roomful of high-flying donors that he's not out to win the vote of the 47%, who he says don't pay taxes, don't care about their lives, and feel entitled to housing and healthcare from the government. Establishment media, sensing a game changer, pounce.
Whether the candidate's candor serves to deter voters remains to be seen.
The divide and conquer strategic remark is called revealing, but as noted by some, it's more accurately described as business as usual.
The son of former Michigan governor George Romney thus sets a new low in American politics, as he openly admits his war on the poor – many of whom work. Or worked their whole life and now live on social security. The remark also suggests contempt for many of those living in states the Citizen takes for granted businessinsider
The unfortunate though telling choice of words harkens back to a more intimate, familiar historical moment...
George Romney is indelibly associated with his home state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. His business acumen saved a company and created jobs within the community. Buildings are named after him for the public service he provided.
And it must now be concluded, George Romney was everything his brazen son is not. Except in this one aspect : both men's campaigns are marked by their inability to filter comments before an unforgiving public. However there are profound differences in the comments, as there are in the men.
A recent CNN profile of Citizen Romney, notes how cautious the son became in recognition of the ill-timed, truly “inelegant” remark that doomed his father's campaign.
In George Romney's case, his 1968 campaign to win the Republican nomination ends when he says he was “brain-washed” on a 1965 fact-finding mission to Vietnam into supporting the war by US diplomats and military advisers. Romney would bow out of the campaign, admitting that it hurts to be “too right too soon.”
(Senator Eugene McCarthy noted that, in Romney's case, "a light rinse would have been sufficient." )
George Romney, in fact, doomed his candidacy with an “off the cuff” remark - one which reflected a personal re-evaluation of the human cost of the Vietnam War.
Romney was a take charge, no doubt brash businessman accustomed to speaking directly. Weary from his campaign schedule, he did not adequately weigh the impact of his words.
His lapse stands in contrast to the deliberate, strategic comments made by his son - to secure contributions from a roomful of billionaires.
George Romney viewed mid-20th century American manufacturing as the
engine to lift workers up – similar to a man he admired greatly,
Henry Ford. He was a rugged individualist and unabashed capitalist.
He did not believe government had the answer to all society's ills. He did not always agree with organized labor nor was he violently opposed to them (as Ford was). He did not believe in Right to Work, unlike his son. He did not endorse runaway CEO pay and hiring workers for as low as you could get them, before firing them without a second thought.
Unlike his son, who roamed the economic landscape as a predator, snatching up companies and loading them with debt – to cover his firm's astronomical fees and investment returns – George Romney built a single company – American Motors - using innovation, grit, and determination to create jobs in his community. As a Republican, he stood at the front of his party on key controversial social issues of the day. He served as the Head of Affordable Housing where he sought “housing production increases for the poor, and for open housing to desegregate suburbs.”
His wayward son chastises the 47% for being entitled – while relying upon regressive taxes, and endless teams of accountants, to generate and maintain a personal fortune. The candidate's own taxes, including the myriad loopholes he and his firm have taken advantage of through-out the years – remain strictly off-limits. To hide the reality that his soaring investment returns are taxed at a far lower rate than the pay checks of the working class he berates. Cbsnews
In the face of business and economic crises, George Romney assumed responsibility; leadership then came to him. He took politically unpopular positions, risking the wrath of his own party to do what his personal experience told him was right. In some of his last public remarks he noted that “popularity is no indicator of truth.”
There are further differences between the politically moderate father and the free market, radicalized corporate raiding son.
Romney Senior believed American industry, through innovation, could stabilize the American Economy - as opposed to “Staplesizing” it through a series of investment schemes.
He built an American company, letting nothing stop him - while avoiding stooping to anything to obtain power for its own sake.
He spoke, for better or worse, as he felt – a public confidence lacking in his son, except in the bootlegged video where he dissects the electorate.
He viewed workers as indispensable to a company's success – rather than lifeless numbers on its balance sheet.
He supported civil rights, at a time when it meant something to do so, rather than resisting progress to curry favor with political extremists.
He invested himself in a company, and his community, to ensure its success, vs. breaking companies to enrich himself.
He believed in genuine labor-management collaboration vs. crushing workers then sticking it to them by begrudging public assistance.
He held sincere policy differences rather than assuming knee-jerk,
contrarian positions for clear political gain.
He knew the difference between saying – and believing – that government was not the answer to all society's ills vs. asserting that government had nothing to do with his success – or his country's.
The tale of how Mother Jones and writer David Corn secured the scoop of the electoral season at Washington Post
Citizen Romney's response to the bootlegged tape is to double-down, as they say. It's his only option, but puts the candidate in the embarrassing position of admitting that he's basically a heartless son of a bitch and why not? Observers note the double-down echoes the fuzzy math of conservative blogosphere soothsayers : mediamatters.org
Others shrug and say what he said. About time the public hears the truth Boston Herald
No presidential candidate wins without the blessing of the 1 percent. Candidates don't compete for votes, they compete for dollars, preferably in the form of large donations. You don't win with less than a billion dollars (sorry Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr).
An accurate - if incomplete - list of the money behind the current campaigns shows The Prez does better with Google and Microsoft, Citizen Romney does better with the banks and hedge funds, other than that, the donors are similar. opensecrets.org
The 1 percent themselves lack the votes to win elections. Most Americans do not wish to support the billionaire relief fund. They gave - and gave and gave and gave - at the office.
For the billionaire-backed Citizen Romney to achieve electoral
victory on Nov. 6th, some part of the remaining 99 percent
must be brought into the fold. Hence the demonizing of certain Americans.
The math looks like this :
1% = billionaires
99% = everyone else
47% = mostly poor, working poor, veterans, and elderly (many of these will vote for Citizen Romney. Many also for Prez)
52% = what's left of the middle class (Includes many teachers, nurses, construction and public workers)
Citizen Romney and the Lords of Finance want the government out of the assistance business, except when they need to be bailed out . Rolling Stone
Bailouts his home state's struggling auto industry were not needed, the candidate insisted in 2008, urging government to “Let Detroit go Bankrupt” to resolve “insurmountable labor and retiree burdens.”
In the same article, Citizen Romney cited improved labor relations as a key to Detroit's resurgence, a passing acknowledgment to the late George Romney. Yet the candidate's vision for workers – and his business resume - is more accurately reflected by the deal offered to UAW workers in the newly released film Detropia ( video, below).
For the organized, the prospect of standing together - even as you're fired. But at least you worked for awhile at $10-$20/hr.
For the unorganized, the vision is starker. By whom we mean the 93% of American workers in the private sector not represented by collective bargaining agreements.
It's effectively laid out in an exchange between NPR On Point Host Tom Ashbrook and his guest, WSJ economics writer and Romney shill Stephen Moore who lambasts those receiving public assistance. He cites the burden they place on America, since they “pay no taxes.” Even as some of them sit at home on social security - a program they paid into their entire working lives.
When pressed by Ashbrook, Moore gives the game away, saying he wants to restore the Clintonian work requirements for Welfare. It's another talking point that sounds good and scores easy political points : no benefits to lazy slackers while the rest of us work to support them. It's also untrue work requirements were waived, but that's beside the point. politifact
This space gives the one percent their proportionate due. As such, we highlight the following portfolio strategy :
The reality of welfare to work requirements is that the state subsidizes the low wages paid to private sector workers downsized into public assistance and – the good news for participating employers – dead end service jobs. By this we mean places like the Sports Authority, Domino's, Staples, etc. (the Bain success stories.) Think WalMart relying on the states to cover employees wages and health insurance, a fact for which they've been sued successfully by state attorney generals, multiple times.
With the state picking up part of the tab, the opportunity for investor profits run high.
Then, when the time is ripe - sell! For case studies, check out the defunct KB Toys, a Pittsfield Massachusetts firm founded in 1922 by the Kaufman family. Whose love of toys approximately mirrored George Romney's love of automobiles.
For decades, the firm operated with strong income flows. Four years after Bain Capital did its leveraged buy out, it went into bankruptcy, and managed to separate its workers from the company with no severance. But the returns to Bain investors were enormous, thanks to a “dividend recapitalization” that returned 900% return over 16 months.
After showing workers the door, short their public assistance and blame them for destroying the country by shorting the treasury. OnPoint (Audio)
Matt Taibbi takes a detailed look at Citizen Romney's business strategies and offers the following “His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal.” Rolling Stone
As far as the 47 percent, Citizen Romney needs their votes but, it turns out, despises and fears their political presence, where the principle of one man, one vote threatens the wealth pyramid. Hence the 47 percent can be written off, or better yet, kept from voting entirely. huffpost
Still, it may prove to be a dangerous political strategy. American democracy is not the business world. And it's very much not the leveraged, private equity world. Word is many in the group he disparages come from the very states the candidate is expected to carry. In fact, they form a numerically indispensable portion of his base.
Many are retirees and working-class white voters who are wary of government's role in their lives and who have tended to vote for Republicans in recent years, even as they take advantage of tax credits and government assistance. Reuters
This was all supposed to be easy. The Citizen had originally billed himself as a jobs creator in a down economy mismanaged by the Prez. Now his handlers move off the “12 million jobs” talking point. It may have worked in 1988 but in the newly class-conscious era, it's falling flat.The new mantra is “increasing take home pay.”
It may be that RNC senses Americans are getting hip to Staplesization - the “steep pyramid pointed up” model /_\ - retail-based companies in which the vast majority of employees work for $9.94 an hour. It's a model in which the lowest wage earners work for the most successful, profitable companies in America. One in four American work jobs that pay those wages.
On the top end of the Staples pyramid, come the investors and senior executives. With executive compensation [averaging annually] $9.4 million, and $174.8 billion (yes, billion) returned to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks in the past five years. truthout
It's the model for America that Citizen Romney and RNC propose, wholesale, for America. To help his business friends take advantage of investment opportunities in new areas -- such as education.However a tax break on $9.94 an hour won't get you far. It certainly won't afford you the car George Romney or Henry Ford wanted to sell you. CS Monitor
With the score widening and the Prez taking a larger lead in the fourth quarter of the race, Citizen Romney will get desperate and go on the offensive, abandoning strategy in the hope of a political Hail Mary. But such desperation is rarely rewarded – especially in politics. How many voters hang on, unable to acknowledge the campaign as a cynical ploy, remains to be seen. Expect an increasing news cycle of such revelations. bloomberg
Citizen Romney is not the first politician to acknowledge his core constituents behind closed doors. If history is any indication, all is not lost for him and the Lords of Finance. Candidates frequently speak honestly behind closed doors, with few real consequences from the voters they promise to f--k:
Finally, this space acknowledges
the passing of Steve Sabol, an innovator, who, like George
Romney, began with a vision and got everyone “rowing in the same
Sabol is the guy responsible for nearly every highlight film your coach made you watch the night before the game, a creator of the enduring visual and narrative legacy of the National Football League, helping it to become a billion dollar enterprise.
Sabol was there in the early days, lugging cameras to film Lombardi's Packers and Title's Giants, right through the decades, often under extreme, sub-zero temperatures, to capture the guts and magnify the glory of the game. An obituary dedicated to the man, and the myths he created, and embodied, by Rich Hoffman at Daily News