Mitt Needs To Go Back To Bain

Over the past year, I’ve been watching the Republican field of candidates for President expand and contract, until at last Mitt Romney sewed up the nomination.  What has astonished me about him is the sheer incompetence he’s demonstrated as a candidate.  Yes, he managed to outspend and outlast others, but that’s not saying much.  Given the field he was running against, it’s more amazing that it took so long than that he won.     One of his main “selling points” has been his success at Bain. No question, he was very successful there, but it hasn’t translated into competence elsewhere.  In some ways, he’s an example of Savant Syndrome.

Certain savants have also been shown to display advanced skill in one or more of five major areas: Art, musical abilities, calendar calculating, mathematics and spatial skills. Socially, most savants display deficiencies, generally consistent with an Autism spectrum disorder although symptoms can recede over time.

While one may dislike the way he ran Bain, one cannot deny that he was very, very successful with it.   It’s when it comes to the political arena that he’s out of his depth.   A look at his record as a politician shows that while he had a couple of “signature” achievements as a governor, he’s been running from them ever since.  What’s been remarkable in watching his campaign is the – no other word for it – incompetence he continually demonstrates.

Whether it’s failure to release his tax returns, inability to say what he’d do in office, the continuous outright lies, and now the disaster of his overseas tour, it has been a litany of gaffs, blunders, and inability to deal with the obvious questions that lead me to question whether he’s actually capable of being President.    One of the British journalists commented that he was “worse than Sarah Palin“, and in some ways, he was right.  While Palin was shoved into the spotlight, Romney has been running  – or preparing to run – for the past 6 years.

The reason I’m pointing out that 6 years is because almost all of the problems Romney has had stem from a lack of preparation to run, combined with poor organizational skills.   It’s been “standard practice” for over 40 years for candidates to release their tax returns.   As almost everyone has p0inted out, Mitt’s father was the one who started it.   The only one who didn’t think that there would be questions about not doing so was … Mitt Romney.   While he’s tried to walk back his time as a governor, he should have known that his current stands would be contrasted with that time.  He’s made a big point of his time with Bain, so he should have known that there would be questions about that.   All of these are “see them coming a mile away” items that any competent candidate would have been prepared for.  Yet Mitt Romney seems to get a “deer in the headlights” look every time they’re brought up, and implausibly tries to deflect attention from them.

The organizational skills issue was highlighted during his overseas trip.   When you’re running for President,  you want to have experienced people brief you and you want to prepare carefully for such a thing.   After all, this is your “international audition,” where you’re going to give foreign leaders – who you will be dealing with if you win – an idea of just who you are and what you’ll do.  This was a “softball” trip, a chance to “look Presidential” to the American electorate.  He was going to visit three old allies, all he had to do was say the proper things at the proper times, and have his staff keep “on message” and puff up the trip.  Instead, in short order he insulted Great Britain, managed to irritate the Israeli press and the Palestinians, have to “walk back” a senior adviser’s suggestion about Israel and Iran, and have his press aide tell reporters to “kiss his ass” in Poland.

None of these things say anything good about Mitt Romney as a potential President.   This is not a case of someone who was suddenly thrown into a campaign, who was a “last minute” choice to run.  This is someone who has had a lot of time to prepare, who has been through this before.  That he can’t handle the basics, that he looks unprepared and incompetent is disturbing.   He’s demonstrating that he’s not capable of handling the job he’s running for.

Mitt looks like a savant.  He was very, very good on Wall Street running a venture capital firm.   He was even brilliant at it.  But as a politician, as a potential President?  He looks like an idiot.  Clueless, out of touch, unprepared, and poorly organized.  He’s out of his depth, and not demonstrating the capabilities he should.  He needs to go back to Bain, where he was competent, because he definitely isn’t competent as a politician or a potential President.


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46 responses to “Mitt Needs To Go Back To Bain

  1. nathkatun7

    Brilliant post, Norbrook! You are absolutely right. How can a person who has been running for President for six years be so incompetent? The Republican primary began the exposure of Mitt Romney’s shortcomings. Fortunately for him, he was able to survive because of the low quality of his opponents. Now he is playing in the big leagues and on the world stage.

    From what we’ve seen, Mitt Romney is not ready for the world stage. He really looked so bad when his fellow “Anglo-Saxons” in the U.K. made fun of him. The Conservative U.K. Prime Minister mocked Mitt’s success of holding the Olympics in a place that was in the middle of nowhere. The conservative Mayor of London didn’t even acknowledge him as a potential President of the the most powerful nation, the United States. As far as the Mayor of London was concerned, he was simply a fellow “named Mitt Romney.”

    If Romney’s foreign tour was intended to overshadow Candidate Obama’s tour in 2008, Romney failed miserably. Although Romney’s personality played some role his failure, I think most of the blame belongs to his incompetent campaign organization. Inevitably, the question is: If Mitt Romney can’t run a competent presidential campaign how will he be able to run a competent federal government?

    • I think the Grover Norquist section of the Republican Party doesn’t want him to run a competent federal government. What they want is an inept idiot who will do exactly as he’s told in the office, and if he happens to be white and rich, so much the better. From that perspective, Mitt is the perfect choice.

    • majiir

      Even republican politicians have difficulty explaining why Romney should be POTUS, Nathan. This says to me that the only reason they want Romney in the WH is to put a rubber stamp on bills they pass—if they manage to have majorities in the Senate and the House in the 113th Congress. Norquist has already said as much. He said that republicans don’t need a thinker in the WH, they just need someone to sign bills passed by a Congress that has a republican majority. Americans need to pay more attention to things like these, but they don’t, and it not only hurts the nation, it hurts them when they vote for politicians whose focus is not on doing what is right for the citizens and the country, but on bills that are meant to fulfill the things that are on their wishlist.

    • Cthulhu

      In all honesty, the reason Mittens is SO bad at this is his (And Ann’s) “entitlement mentality” Yes, I know the right loves to toss that term around at us peons, but you really only see it en masse at the 1% level. Remember Ann’s comments? “It’s OUR turn” in the White House. He thinks because he’s rich, because he’s a 1%’er, he’s somehow entitled to the office.
      But lets be honest, Mittens ISN’T as smart as he’s been told he is his entire life. I daresay ANY of us could have made millions of dollars (After starting out with millions) gutting companies and piling them up with debt, then taking the money and running. All thats required for that is a lack of human compassion. And as recent studies have shown, Sociopaths abound in big bidness.

      So to summerize, Mittens is neither intelligent, nor savvy. He’s just another spoiled rich kid who has gotten by who he is and how much money he has, and doesn’t give a fig for anyone else.
      Spoiled and feeling entitled. NOT someone this country needs.

      • lexy

        Yes, but he is “white”. To the average mid-western and southern white working class person, that’s all it takes to make him “intelligent”; certainly more intelligent than the so called “black man” in the white house.

  2. It certainly looks that way. Some of the details from his past, like the dog-on-roof incident, also suggest a weird deadness to normal feelings.

    On Republican blogs, there’s a lot of strident self-deception and shouting-down of anyone who raises such issues. They definitely don’t want to acknowledge the problem.

    • I think it’s a measure of desperation on their part. I know that I’m seeing some “cracks in the wall” regarding his capabilities. Even the posters on Free Republic acknowledged that the Obama campaign’s ad featuring Mitt singing was devastatingly effective. Mitt’s inability to control the narrative, his constant blunders, has to be a matter of serious concern to Republican strategists. Obviously, he was successful at Bain. It’s just that when it comes to anything else he’s apparently incompetent. If he can’t organize a campaign, despite having a very long time to do so, it doesn’t speak well of his capabilities.

    • majiir

      There is so much that right-wingers appear to be ready to forgive Romney for that matters a lot when it comes to governing a nation as large, complex, and diverse as ours, infidel753. I’ve noticed that when the president, or a democrat like Senator Reid, strikes a blow against Romney, they suddenly appear on liberal-leaning blogs to defend Romney. Facts are facts, and no amount of spinning can change the facts. Romney is a poor candidate for president. He bombed in Europe, and he bombed in Israel. Right-wingers know this, but they defend Romney by saying that no one cares what the Palestinians, the Israelis, the British, and the Polish think. They’re so ignorant about diplomacy and foreign policy that they think that someone like Romney with his weak knowledge of the history and lack of respect for other countries can be successful in the areas of foreign policy and diplomacy as POTUS. It makes no sense. The thought that they make so many demands of PBO while holding Romney to no standards at all burns me up. Their hypocrisy and willingness to lie for Romney shows that, contrary to what their mouths say, they’re not the least bit interested in the national debt, the deficit, the unemployment rate, or American Exceptionalism. The only thing they are interested in is wielding power over the rest of us.

      • sidney18511

        If wouldnt of mattered who the republicans candidate was. Herman Cain, Bachmann, Newt…..heck, they could of run Charles Manson, and the tea party sheeple wouldn’t say a peep. These people are nuts, and for them to takeover Washington, would be a disaster for us all.

  3. aquagranny911

    Maybe Mitty was really successful at Bain & maybe he had some minions who carried a lot of the ball for him so he could take the credit & the $$$$$$$$$$$$$. The Mittster lies so much & hides so much it’s hard to know just what he has done except make a hell of a lot of money.

    This issue of his tax returns is not going away. I doubt he did anything illegal but it probably was shady. I read that one way he got so much into his IRA was by putting in the max allowable amount of company stocks at an undervalued price. Probably not illegal but definitely walking on the edge. I think Mitt Romney’s major accomplishment is that he knows how to make lots of money for Mitt Romney.

    This is just speculation but I’m wondering if one of the major reasons he doesn’t want to reveal those tax returns is that he has shorted the Mormon church of their 10% for many years. I’ve read that not tithing appropriately can mean expulsion from that ‘august body.’ Maybe he is more afraid of them than he is of anything else.

    Whatever, you nailed it here. Romney is a total failure as a politician & he didn’t even have the smarts to hire some good managers for his campaign. His sense of entitlement has clouded all reason. He’s a hot mess. The sad & scary thing is that some people will actually vote for his sorry ass.

    • aquagranny911

      no Edit Button…strike out the redundant “for” & add the word “vote”

    • I think that’s what has astonished me the most – and what led to this post. The inability to hire competent people, and develop the sort of organization and plans he needs to have. It’s not like there aren’t examples. 🙄 Whatever skills he had running Bain are not in evidence these days.

      • majiir

        Another “tell” for me, Norbrook, was the recent renewed interest on hiring lobbyists to rehabilitate Romney’s public image and to sell the GOP’s policies to voters. The Obama campaign also uses lobbyists, but ti releases their names to the public. The Romney campaign doesn’t. I think the republicans know that even though they can raise millions and millions of dollars, those dollars will encounter problems in selling Romney as a viable candidate for POTUS. Romney has an unfavorable rating over 50%, and if he doesn’t know why, he needs to reflect on the following: his arrogant attitude about releasing more of his tax records and financial information; his willingness to lie about everything; his very secretive behavior; the hissy fits he throws when it has been revealed that he has lied to the American people; how he is constantly having to make course changes when one of his surrogates shares Romney’s true positions on issues with the public; his refusal to discuss the details of any of his policies; and how he failed so miserably in Europe and in Israel, among other things.

        • Mitt has been his own worst enemy. Every time he opens his mouth, he manages to antagonize another group, even those whose support are considered “a base” of the party. His constant inability to stand up for whatever he believes in isn’t earning him many fans in the conservative movement. The only thing he has going for him as far as they’re concerned is that he’s not Obama. Which isn’t exactly exciting them.

      • Cthulhu

        This is what led me to believe that Rmoney DOESN’T have any actual business skills, but that he’s an exceptionally skilled grifter and con artist. After all, how much skill does it take to load a struggling company down with debt they’ll never be able to pay off, cook the books so they don’t know that you’ve done that and gutted their pension plans, then skim your take off the top and run away from the company like a thief in the night? Not top notch business skills.
        But it DOES require a bunch of money to start, and maybe the weight of the Mormon Church behind him (Remember, Rmoney is a Bishop)?
        He’s just a con artist writ large who thinks he’s owed the Presidency. I guarantee that besides some dirty financial tricks, the reason he doesn’t want to release his tax returns is he’s been ripping off the Mormon cult.

        • E.A. Blair

          There’s a difference between actual wealth creation, which is what real entrepeneurs do, and pushing numbers around on forms and papers and shuffling digits from one account to another, which is what people like Romney and others whom the Republicans call “job creators” do. That artificial wealth does the world at large no good whatsoever.

  4. Good post, Norbrook. He seems to be way in over his head. So much for the notion that a long primary sharpened the eventual winner.

  5. Dancer

    He is NOT a real person and was poorly “programmed” by the incompetent technicians who prep the ROMNEYBOT…!!! It’s in the eys/ the walk…check out Robin Williams in BICENTENNIEL MAN…

  6. Romney is no less capable of handling the job he is running for than President Obama. Romney’s biggest mistake is that he didn’t vigorously defend Bain and the greater private equity industry for periods of time both when he was there and after he left. As founder of the company, he has every right to be proud of all its accomplishments. Did Bain have to cut some jobs as it built and managed the companies it owned? Of course. Bain companies created more jobs than they lost, which is what happens when you make companies more successful.

    • Excuse me, but no, Romney has not demonstrated his capability of handling the job he’s running for. You’re also totally in ignorance of what he did at Bain. He wasn’t “cutting some jobs,” in fact, he wasn’t “creating jobs” – he was very successful at milking as much money out of the companies Bain took over as possible.

      He did this by loading debt onto companies, while taking large sums as “management fees” from the extra debt. While this was good for Bain, it wasn’t good for the companies. At the same time, you also have to look at his stint as governor. He raised taxes, increased the debt load, and then took off for a fairly sizable chunk of his last two years in office.

      Now, he’s been “organizing” and “managing” a campaign for the past 6 years. Everything he’s demonstrated to date is that he’s inept as all get out at it. Now contrast that to the “neophyte” who is now President. He put together a formidable campaign organization, he has put together a terrific team in his administration, and he has a set of legislative and diplomatic successes that most presidents would consider “great achievements” in 8 years – and he did all that in less than 3.

      • Totally in ignorance? Wow, those are harsh words! I actually understand pretty well how the private equity industry works because I work in the industry. Yes they put debt on the companies they buy. But they also put in a lot of their own equity. And last time I checked, their equity was behind the debt, so they’re taking a lot of risk. Did some of their investments not turn out so well? Sure, but overall they created jobs and improved companies’ operations. And their successes translated into successes for their investors – pension funds, university endowments, et al.

        And it’s an industry that Obama has tapped both to serve him as advisors as well for major political donations. So it’s funny that he’s attacking them.

        • However, Bain wasn’t putting in a lot of “their own money,” they were using an initial investment to leverage the company to pile on additional debt, from which they would extract “management fees” for setting up the additional loans, then adding more debt to the company to the extent that the company – which may have been healthy before – had an unsustainable debt load. Of course, by then, Mitt and company would have used the additional borrowing from the company to “buy out” Bain’s stock, leaving the company deep in debt and facing bankruptcy. That’s not “building a company” or “creating jobs.” It was great for Bain investors, but not for the companies they were targeting. One might also note that Bain’s ethics and practices were being questioned at the time not by “liberals” but other investment firms.

          That said, none of that is a “qualification” to run for President. There’s a different skill set, and Mitt has demonstrated absolutely no capability in that arena. He’s also not demonstrating a lot of knowledge or spine. You shoot your own argument down, because what you just said is that President Obama is smart enough to pick people who know what they’re talking about in a given field and listen to them – and you seem to forget that he worked on Wall Street as well – whereas Mitt seems to have failed in that regard, as witnessed by his recent debacle overseas.

          • They weren’t putting their own money in? What are you talking about? I’ll try to avoid using terms like being “ignorant” because I’d rather not stoop down that far. And adding more debt if a company has an unsustainable debt load? Who would make such a stupid loan?

            And who is “he” that you say worked on Wall Street?

          • They weren’t putting their own money in? What are you talking about? I’ll try to avoid using terms like being “ignorant” because I’d rather not stoop down that far. And adding more debt if a company has an unsustainable debt load? Who would make such a stupid loan?

            Learn to read. In fact, learn to read how Mitt ran Bain. I said they weren’t putting “very much’ of their own money in, they were using it as leverage. You do understand the term “leverage,” don’t you. As to “who would make stupid loans,” hmm.. .that describes most of the credit default swaps and CDO’s during the property bubble.

            As to “he” who worked also worked on Wall Street, did you ever bother to look up where President Obama worked right out of Columbia?

          • Cthulhu

            Exactly. And thats not “Management”, or “Job Creation”, or any of the other buzz words the right likes to throw around. What it is, is a SCAM. Time to call it for what it is.

    • I don’t know where you are getting your facts but I must say you are clueless. What good does it do to destroy livelihoods by shipping jobs oversees? If you are proud of that record of jobs in oversees, well and good but we don’t need a job killing Presidential candidate that will ship American Jobs to enrich his greedy self…and then not pay tax on his earnings. Pleaaazzzzeee…save the rhetoric.

      • sidney18511

        It doesn’t seem like the republican voters like Romney or think that he would even make a good president, but all the same, it doesn’t seem like Romney likes the republican voters. It doesn’t seem that he even really wants to be president, he is more like a billionaire that has nothing left to buy.
        The entire GOP campaign is based on the scheme to get their voters to be fearful and hate Obama, MORE then they dislike Romney.
        That….and lots and lots of ad buys.

        • Matter of amusing reality, today the conservatives are screaming their heads off over the Romney campaign using Massachusetts healthcare law to “counter” an ad from an Obama supporting PAC. Which, (ahem) contained a “mandate to buy insurance.” So yes, the Republicans are incredibly lukewarm about him. The press is getting in on the act, since they’re getting dazed by the sheer number of lies the man tells. I personally suggest a nice cut-and-paste template: “Today, Mitt Romney lied about.(fill in the blank) at a campaign stop in (fill in the blank)…” Stop with all the bothersome fact checking, since he’s already demonstrated that he and truth aren’t even nodding acquaintances. 🙄

  7. Bain was doing leveraged buyouts well before CDO’s came into vogue. Of course, a typical Bain buyout didn’t rely on sub-prime mortgage CDO’s, so not sure what Bain has to do with the property bubble that you mention. In 2004 and beyond, the PE industry was relying on corporate debt CLO’s and CDO’s, not ones that were fueled by the property bubble.

    As for equtiy in LBO’s, the equity component of an LBO can be anywhere typically from 20-50% of the capital structure, so not sure why you think that they weren’t putting in “very much” of their own money. I consider 20-50% of the capital structure to be meaningful, especially when it’s the most junior part of the capital structure.

    According to Wikipedia, after Columbia, President Obama worked at Business International Corporation and NY PIRG. Are you saying that one of those would be considered to be a “Wall Street” firm?

  8. Pingback: Mike’s Blog Round Up | politicsandpolls-com

  9. E.A. Blair

    Republicans and other conservative/right wing types can only defend Romney’s success in one, and only one, aspect of his career: the amassing of personal wealth. By any standard, this is a very selfish measure of success, and so is very appropriate for Romney and his kind.

  10. Norbrook- As to your astute comments, have you considered whether
    Romney suffers from Aspergers Syndrome?

    • I try to avoid making psychiatric diagnoses. However, it’s been apparent to me that his area of competence is most definitely not in the political arena.

    • sidney18511

      This is not the first time aspergers syndrome has been mentioned in relation to Romney, from what I’ve read on other boards, he does seem to have the symptoms that would lead a Dr. to a diagnosis of aspergers.

  11. Incompetence? Or rather a perfect example for what results from of a visionary emulating a purely capitalistic agenda. Bottom line: Romney will never be a people person. He is the consummate Randian, and boy can that play ugly on the broader national stage.
    A lack of preparation? Or perhaps a disinterest for internalizing the body politic; humanity being reduced to another cog in the machinery of corporate needs. Diligence defined by the GOP has become a simple the knee-jerk willingness to attack conflicting ideas, without offering sustainable alternatives. The modern conservative movement sorely lacks a long range strategy. It’s as if the Right expects, any day now, for the American people to notice their hand in the cookie jar and say finally, enough is enough. Sadly, the looting continues.

  12. Good post. Way back last year I had a blog post “Mitt Mondale” thinking Romney might end up being as uninspiring as Mondale in ’84. He’s much worse. Besides the fact Mondale was a skilled intelligent politician who just lacked big time charisma, Romney is out of his league. His only hope is that billions of dollars from wealthy donors can buy him the election because he’s not going to win on his own. My friends dismiss this but I still see Obama getting 330 electoral votes.

    • Thanks. 🙂 While I wasn’t expecting great charisma out of Romney, I kept expecting some form of competence from his campaign. After all, this is not his first try, and he wasn’t plucked out of obscurity and drafted to run. The woeful lack of preparation on his part, the inability to articulate a reason why he should be elected other than “I’m not Obama” or most egregiously “it’s our turn”, shows a lack of “due diligence” on his part in preparing for this run. That doesn’t speak highly of his talents as a manager or politician. If he’d run Bain the way he’s run this campaign, Bain would be legendary in business circles as one of the worst failures of all time.

      All of that just throws his lack of charisma into stark relief. He can’t cover it over with competence, so being the least exciting politician – and not very well liked – doesn’t bode well. That’s going to definitely hurt him when he’s in a debate with someone who does have charisma, a command of policy, and connects well with people.

      • aquagranny911

        Seriously, can we be sure he really “ran” Bain? We only have his word & his $$$ that he was the big boss. Maybe his minions did it all & he just said “handle it & make money”

        He sure is coming off as totally incompetent to run even a lemonade stand much less our country. Maybe he was better at running things when he was younger but if he has faded this fast he has no ‘business’ running for prez.

        • Considering that Bain made a lot of deals and money while he was “retroactively retired,” whether he was actually running it is a good question. 😉

  13. john W Tindall

    Romney is crap

  14. Brilliant essay Norbrook. Well done!