Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romney the Bad Manager

Obviously Mitt Romney didn't learn much as a businessman about how to manage a political campaign.     That's not surprising because, as I've contended all along, running a business isn't at all like politics and -  more important  -  it isn't at all like governing. Politics/governing is about as much like running a business as golf is like knitting. Remember that Romney the Businessman would have killed off General Motors and Chrysler, while Obama the Politician/President chose to save the American auto industry.

This must be why Romney can't talk about his years as governor of Massachusetts and why he dropped out after one term and why he lost a senate race to Ted Kennedy. He just doesn't have the right stuff to govern or campaign. Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job-production during his four years as governor.

Look at his campaign. It's the second half of July and he's being thrashed over Bain and his income taxes. Obama's campaign is remorselessly doing what it has to: painting a picture of Romney that is quite off-putting and doing it before Romney has been able to paint a portrait of himself.

And Romney is helping the Obama campaign by doing one dumb thing after another. He should have released multiple tax returns long ago. He should have made Bain's business records clear. Instead he has run away from disclosure so vehemently that HE is effectively suggesting that there's some horrible secrets in those papers.

His dumb mistake is three-fold: not disclosing makes everyone want to see the "bad" stuff all the more; he's making the bad stuff seem worse than it may be; he's lost control of how the questionable stuff is being interpreted. Above all, he is breaking the Number One Rule of politics (all my political rules are Number One):  Don't play the game in the other guy's ballpark. Romney has repeatedly let the Obama team set the ballpark: women's health rights, gay marriage, non-deportation of children illegally brought to the USA, the Supreme Court health care act decision, and now the Bain/tax returns mess.

Romney is pig-headed, definitely not a good quality in a president. From his businessman perspective, he stubbornly thinks that all he has to do is keep saying that Obama hasn't been a good business manager in restoring American jobs. Romney believes that a weak economy will automatically make him president. He's a one-pitch pitcher. He's a backhand-only tennis player. He's a fast-start-only distance runner. But it takes more than one move to win at anything. Be adept or die. Any competitive athlete knows that psyching out the competition and its likely moves is very, very important. You can play circles around the guy who only has one move.

Political people like sports metaphors better than business ones. We are more interested in the "finish line" than the "bottom line". We calculate by a different arithmetic. Take the GM/ Chrysler  decision. Obama did what was good for the country. Romney wanted to do what was best from his business point of view: "let Detroit go bankrupt". That worked for him in making millions at Bain. It was perhaps a defensible business decision vis-a-vis the auto industry, but it would have been a disaster for America. Running a business is NOT like running a national economy. We MUST NOT have a businessman in the Oval Office!

We have to hang on to my hopeful take on Romney's ineptitude as a campaigner, fingers crossed that he will continue to botch it up. Why? Because there's some merit in his assumption that the economy can defeat Obama's re-election bid. The current economic news has gone soft again, and experts say there's not much hope for an upswing before Election Day. The GOP-controlled Congress has consistently blocked Obama's moves to help the economy, but will the voters see that and assess blame accordingly? We can only hope so. And all the time we have to brace ourselves for the coming wave of anti-Obama super pac money that will explode this fall.

Meantime we can do one of two things. Go out and buy a new refrigerator and thus help improve the economy. Or take just a portion of that money and donate it to the Obama campaign to help offset the Romney Money Machine.

The choice is yours. The one choice we don't have is to do nothing. That's the one move that is fatal to our future. Your future, my friend. And the future of your children.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Dorothy —
    Great post. Just one quibble: Romney isn't being swift-boated. Unlike what happened to Kerry, the chatter about Romney is absolutely true.