Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Romney the Deceiver in Chief

Republican front runner Mitt Romney points excessively to his success in the private sector as an indication that he can be a strong and decision leader as President. However, as Richard Cohen of the Washington Post points out Romney also acquired another skill, the masterful ability to lie in any situation. As Cohen writes,

“He often cites his business background as commending him for the presidency. That’s his forgivable absurdity. Instead, what his career has given him is the businessman’s concept of self — that what he does is not who he is. This is what enables the slumlord to be a charitable man. This is what enables the corporate raider to endow his university. Business is business. It’s what you do. It is not who you are. Lying isn’t a sin. It’s a business plan.”

I believe that Cohen discusses a very important point that will be highlighted in this election season; does a career in finance really prepare an individual to be a good politician? Are the skills transferable? A majority of Congressmen are lawyers, not bankers, by trade and I feel this is for good reason. The public sector cannot be managed like a business. You cannot just cut one part of the government, or expand another part of it without feeling serious effects and consequences. Yes, the managerial skills that Romney acquired during his career in finance would definitely help him with the job of the presidency. However, voters must remember there are two sides to every story. Romney is also masterfully good at being deceptive. He evolved from a moderate Republican Governor in a very liberal state, to the candidate for a Republican party that is as conservative as it has ever been. He has flipped -flopped his position on various social issues that include abortion and gun control, and yet he still beat true social conservatives in the Republican primaries. Given Romney’s history, the American voter should be cautious as to what they are actually getting in his candidacy.  In terms of alleviating political gridlock, who knows whether a Romney presidency would be beneficial or counterproductive; we can only wait to see what Mitt Romney we would get in 2013.


  1. Yes, that would be a very interesting question. Even if the Republicans would win 50 seats in the Senate, what I think is rather unrealistic, I do not see yet that Romney will be able to avoid at least some kind of "unified gridlock" and it is - from my point of view - really likely that he will be facing serious challenges from politicians of his own party. If the Democrats would be able to retain control over the Senate, things would be even more "interesting" in the sense that the potential for gridlock will certainly be even higher. What reason would the Democrats have to act in another obstructive way than the Republicans did if they are shown that this is "successful" in the way that you can win presidential elections with this?

  2. It's kind of funny that you think his career in business has essentially taught him ways to be deceptive, but then you seem to endorse lawyers in Congress.

    Either way, I'm not sure a career in managing a business is necessarily a bad thing thing or even one that doesn't translate to the political realm. Sure, business and government are not equivalents in the way they're run, but that doesn't mean Romney can't learn from his experiences. I'm not supporting Romney in any way, but I think Cohen makes a lot of hyperbolic generalizations in this article that aren't necessarily true. It almost seems like he's riding off the anti-corporate sentiment that's so pervasive these days.

    As for the flip flopping, I would definitely agree that Romney has been particularly egregious in this area. But one of the posters earlier in the semester highlighted an interesting trend that seems to happen in every presidential election. In a nutshell, it argues that, with the closed primary system, politicians are forced to cater to their bases and take more extreme positions. But once they move from the primary to the general election, they become more moderate in order to appeal to a broader base. In this way, our system might actually be fostering flip flopping.

  3. I used to expect better than this out of Richard Cohen, but lately he has just given to broad, unsubstantiated, hyperbolic generalizations. He essentially says, (1) Romney is a businessman; (2) businessmen are evil; (3) Romney is evil and a “deceiver.” Seriously, Richard?
    One thing I’d like to know is when it became so “hip” to condemn “business.” This country was built on some of the greatest businesses in the world; from steel, to railroad, to automobiles to the financial industry. Our financial sector has facilitated massive growth and efficient allocation of capital to make us the wealthiest nation in the world. This is all a bad thing, how exactly?
    The assertion that “the public sector cannot be managed like a business” is part and parcel of why we’ve accumulated $14 trillion in debt. You absolutely can and should run a government like a business. In the real world you have to service the debt as it comes due; in the government’s world you just keep accumulating debt and raising taxes.
    Now there are certainly strong cases to be made that Romney lacks the requisite substance to be President; but loosely and baselessly claiming he’s unqualified because of a cliché caricature about the “businessman” – in the Washington Post no less – borders on pathetic.