Anti-business Republicans

The line of attack on Romney from the rest of the Republican field (except for Ron Paul) is that he is a capitalist!  He made profits!  He fired people!  In other words, the ostensibly conservative candidates are attacking him from the left, sounding like Occupy Wall Streeters or, at least, Democrats.  National Review is indignant:

Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman seem to be engaged in a perverse contest to be the Republican presidential candidate to say the most asinine thing about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm at which he served as chief executive, helped turn around a number of failing businesses, and, in the process, produced magnificent profits for his investors and for himself. Mitt Romney ran a firm that invested in struggling businesses, made money, and never asked for a bailout — and Romney’s rivals apparently expect Republican voters to regard that as a liability. . . .

As you can imagine, companies that are buyout targets often are in very poor shape, and reviving them is no small thing. Many of them go into bankruptcy. Product lines are discontinued, retail locations are closed, assets are sold off, and, almost inevitably, jobs are lost. Some never recover. When the restructuring is successful, reinvigorated firms expand, add locations, develop new products, and create jobs. That is the creative destruction of capitalism. Staples has 2,000 stores instead of one store because of a Bain investment. And, as Herman Cain is well-positioned to appreciate, Burger King was severely underperforming when Bain and a group of franchise owners acquired it from corporate parent Diageo in 2002. The restructured burger chain, which went public a few years back, is now valued at more than $3 billion. Household names from Dunkin’ Donuts to Guitar Center have been among Bain’s projects.

Bain’s business is high-risk and high-reward. Romney made a pot of money — by investing in real businesses, which, it bears noting, employ many thousands of real Americans. Governor Perry likes to brag about the jobs created in Texas during his tenure: Perhaps he should subtract from that admirable sum those positions at companies in which Bain invested, for the sake of his intellectual integrity.

Romney also is being roasted for saying that one of the things he prefers about the private sector is that when it comes to the incompetent or the unsatisfactory, “if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Choice — including the choice to fire a non-performing employee, or to fire your bank if you prefer another one — is the essence of the free market. In education, health care, and any number of other spheres of American life, more choice desperately is needed. An education system in which incompetent teachers could be routinely fired would be a real improvement over the current regime of tenure and “rubber rooms” — and Romney has nothing for which to apologize in connection with that remark, nor for taking on the thankless task of explaining the goodness of profits to an Occupy Wall Street heckler. Huntsman mocked Romney for the remark — but whoever the next president of the United States is, he should be provided with a very long list of people in the federal bureaucracies who need firing. If Huntsman does not have one, he has not thought hard enough about the issue.

Wall Street has its share of miscreants, and they should be recognized as such when appropriate. But to abominate Mitt Romney for having been a success at the business of investing in struggling American companies, connecting entrepreneurs with capital and producers with markets, is foolish and destructive. Republicans ought to know better, and the fact that Gingrich et al. apparently do not is the most disturbing commentary on the state of the primary field so far.

via Romney’s Profitable Past – The Editors – National Review Online.

Now there are kinds of conservatism that are, in fact, critical of the untrammeled marketplace, the kind that reduces all values to economic value and that destroys tradition and culture in favor of an uncritical consumerism.  But I think what we are seeing from Newt and company is not Burkeanism but demagoguery.

Also, in the reactions to this rhetoric, I think I am seeing the conservative establishment (Rush Limbaugh, National Review, etc.) finding an excuse to rally behind Romney.

UPDATE:  Newt Gingrich apparently recants this line of attack against Romney.

UPDATE:  Newt now recants his recantation.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The Atlantic had this to say about the matter:

    Gingrich is, in the classic Gingrichian style further developed by Karl Rove, attacking Romney where he is strongest: electability. If that means, as is likely, that Gingrich loses the primary but succeeds in mortally wounding Romney for the general election, well, that’s OK with Newt, because this isn’t really about the country, and it’s not really about the Republican Party. It’s about Newt Gingrich — and it’s about revenge.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/mitt-romney-vs-the-newtron-bomb/251168/

    There is no way in hell the rest of the civilised world world like to see such a fellow in control of the most powerful armed forces, and the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The Atlantic had this to say about the matter:

    Gingrich is, in the classic Gingrichian style further developed by Karl Rove, attacking Romney where he is strongest: electability. If that means, as is likely, that Gingrich loses the primary but succeeds in mortally wounding Romney for the general election, well, that’s OK with Newt, because this isn’t really about the country, and it’s not really about the Republican Party. It’s about Newt Gingrich — and it’s about revenge.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/mitt-romney-vs-the-newtron-bomb/251168/

    There is no way in hell the rest of the civilised world world like to see such a fellow in control of the most powerful armed forces, and the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet.

  • SKPeterson

    I can’t fault Romney for this statement. It is akin to the analogy that dollars are votes and the most successful companies are those that get the most votes.

  • SKPeterson

    I can’t fault Romney for this statement. It is akin to the analogy that dollars are votes and the most successful companies are those that get the most votes.

  • SKPeterson

    I should hasten to add that, while Republicans may be viewed as “pro-business” that historically has meant pro-big business with a strong streak of anti-competitive protectionism thrown in for good measure (just take a look at steel subsidies, auto subsidies, agriculture subsidies, the bank bail outs). The arguments for these policies also often have had a “pro-labor” cast to them. Democrats have also advocated for such measures in the past, which is not to say the policies are bipartisanly good, but that corporatist-unionism finds plenty of willing bedfellows in both parties to the detriment of entrepreneurialism, capital investment, and free flows of labor across space and between sectors.

  • SKPeterson

    I should hasten to add that, while Republicans may be viewed as “pro-business” that historically has meant pro-big business with a strong streak of anti-competitive protectionism thrown in for good measure (just take a look at steel subsidies, auto subsidies, agriculture subsidies, the bank bail outs). The arguments for these policies also often have had a “pro-labor” cast to them. Democrats have also advocated for such measures in the past, which is not to say the policies are bipartisanly good, but that corporatist-unionism finds plenty of willing bedfellows in both parties to the detriment of entrepreneurialism, capital investment, and free flows of labor across space and between sectors.

  • Kirk

    I was listening to a story on this last night and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Republicans say “worker” that many times in such a short amount of time. Priceless.

  • Kirk

    I was listening to a story on this last night and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Republicans say “worker” that many times in such a short amount of time. Priceless.

  • WebMonk

    Bain did well for themselves an did well for many of the companies they worked on. Several of them they closed down. But, all in all I would be willing to bet they have provided a lot more jobs than job loss. I don’t know how comprehensive the Wikipedia list of companies in which Bain has invested is, but if it’s even vaguely precise, they’ve done a good job.

    Bashing Romney for his time at Bain doesn’t fly with me. I’m not a Romney supporter by any stretch, but this particular criticism doesn’t sound solid. Unfortunately, all the (many!) criticisms of Romney I think are significant don’t seem to be swaying the primary voters.

    Of the current crop, I’m a Ron Paul fan and will be voting for him in the primary. (and as everyone knows, I’m only a Ron Paul fan because I want to sell my kids into prostitution, go on a legalized drug binge, and stick my head in the sand until Hitler marches me into a gas chamber. :eyeroll:)

  • WebMonk

    Bain did well for themselves an did well for many of the companies they worked on. Several of them they closed down. But, all in all I would be willing to bet they have provided a lot more jobs than job loss. I don’t know how comprehensive the Wikipedia list of companies in which Bain has invested is, but if it’s even vaguely precise, they’ve done a good job.

    Bashing Romney for his time at Bain doesn’t fly with me. I’m not a Romney supporter by any stretch, but this particular criticism doesn’t sound solid. Unfortunately, all the (many!) criticisms of Romney I think are significant don’t seem to be swaying the primary voters.

    Of the current crop, I’m a Ron Paul fan and will be voting for him in the primary. (and as everyone knows, I’m only a Ron Paul fan because I want to sell my kids into prostitution, go on a legalized drug binge, and stick my head in the sand until Hitler marches me into a gas chamber. :eyeroll:)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The German view of Romney, from Der Spiegel (in English): http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,808476,00.html

    They call him “The Duracell Bunny” :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The German view of Romney, from Der Spiegel (in English): http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,808476,00.html

    They call him “The Duracell Bunny” :)

  • Bob

    Newtie.

    What’s goin’ on?

    No one believes that the Newtster is really a born-again populist, A friend of the worker, and that his rage against Mittens’ vulture capitalism will last more than a few hours.

    But Newtie and his ADD will give the Dems. plenty of great material between now and November.

    This Slate writer called Newtie’s newfound populism a “butch Arianna Huffington.”

    ROTFLOL.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/01/11/_a_butch_arianna_huffington_.html

  • Bob

    Newtie.

    What’s goin’ on?

    No one believes that the Newtster is really a born-again populist, A friend of the worker, and that his rage against Mittens’ vulture capitalism will last more than a few hours.

    But Newtie and his ADD will give the Dems. plenty of great material between now and November.

    This Slate writer called Newtie’s newfound populism a “butch Arianna Huffington.”

    ROTFLOL.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/01/11/_a_butch_arianna_huffington_.html

  • Steve Billingsley

    If Romney didn’t hear this in the primary then you could be sure it would come up in the general if he gets the nomination. Let’s see how he responds to it. Newt isn’t the issue to me (or Perry or Huntsman). None of them will be the nominee so let them say what they want.

    I don’t know that any party is pro-business as much as they are pro-Big Business (not the same thing). Democrats pretend to care about workers at least a bit more convincingly, but the money trail to their campaigns doesn’t support their pretense.

  • Steve Billingsley

    If Romney didn’t hear this in the primary then you could be sure it would come up in the general if he gets the nomination. Let’s see how he responds to it. Newt isn’t the issue to me (or Perry or Huntsman). None of them will be the nominee so let them say what they want.

    I don’t know that any party is pro-business as much as they are pro-Big Business (not the same thing). Democrats pretend to care about workers at least a bit more convincingly, but the money trail to their campaigns doesn’t support their pretense.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Steve – “none of them will be the nominee..”: So praythee, what dost thine crystal ball foretell?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Steve – “none of them will be the nominee..”: So praythee, what dost thine crystal ball foretell?

  • Steve Billingsley

    I think it will either be Romney or Santorum. You might be able to make a case for Newt (I just don’t see it happening, but stranger things have happened). But I don’t know how anyone could think that Perry or Huntsman will be the nominee. Newt needs to finish higher than 4th in a primary before I take him seriously. Ron Paul is the only other viable candidate at this point (at least in terms of finances and loyal support). But again, he needs to actually win a primary for me to believe it.
    I guess someone else could get in late, but who?

  • Steve Billingsley

    I think it will either be Romney or Santorum. You might be able to make a case for Newt (I just don’t see it happening, but stranger things have happened). But I don’t know how anyone could think that Perry or Huntsman will be the nominee. Newt needs to finish higher than 4th in a primary before I take him seriously. Ron Paul is the only other viable candidate at this point (at least in terms of finances and loyal support). But again, he needs to actually win a primary for me to believe it.
    I guess someone else could get in late, but who?

  • Grace

    Romney might get the Republican nomination, but I doubt seriously that he will be the next president. The REASON? He has played with the abortion issue, his many tax/fee increases to the tune of over 700,000 million will finally sink in to those who have roller coasted with Romney. The Dem’s will dance with joy, IF Romney should receive nomination as president.

    The most important REASON that Romney will never win is this; he is a Mormon. Many of you have sneered at my remarks in the past, however, he comes from a long line of Mormons, his ancestors were at the very top of the Mormon church. It’s a cult, they believe in a man (Joseph Smith) who made it clear that he had done more than Jesus Christ on this earth. That’s about as far from Christianity as you can get.

    Those who know what Mormonism is, have studied it, not just a few hours, but really took the time (years) to understand it, and most of all UNDERSTAND what the Bible says, will vote, but they will leave the space EMPTY when it comes to Willard Mitt Romney’s name. I as a Born Again Believer will not vote for a man who defies God, and believes that Joseph Smith is involved with Salvation through him.

    My relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ is my life, HE means everything to me. I could never sell myself to vote for a man who follows Joseph Smith.

    I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet”
    (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408-409) Joseph Smith

    There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God
    (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188.)

    The passage below doesn’t include Joseph Smith.

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
    John 6:47

    Romney has made it clear he’s a Mormon, he believes what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and all those who follow after them as leaders have stated.

  • Grace

    Romney might get the Republican nomination, but I doubt seriously that he will be the next president. The REASON? He has played with the abortion issue, his many tax/fee increases to the tune of over 700,000 million will finally sink in to those who have roller coasted with Romney. The Dem’s will dance with joy, IF Romney should receive nomination as president.

    The most important REASON that Romney will never win is this; he is a Mormon. Many of you have sneered at my remarks in the past, however, he comes from a long line of Mormons, his ancestors were at the very top of the Mormon church. It’s a cult, they believe in a man (Joseph Smith) who made it clear that he had done more than Jesus Christ on this earth. That’s about as far from Christianity as you can get.

    Those who know what Mormonism is, have studied it, not just a few hours, but really took the time (years) to understand it, and most of all UNDERSTAND what the Bible says, will vote, but they will leave the space EMPTY when it comes to Willard Mitt Romney’s name. I as a Born Again Believer will not vote for a man who defies God, and believes that Joseph Smith is involved with Salvation through him.

    My relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ is my life, HE means everything to me. I could never sell myself to vote for a man who follows Joseph Smith.

    I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet”
    (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408-409) Joseph Smith

    There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God
    (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188.)

    The passage below doesn’t include Joseph Smith.

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
    John 6:47

    Romney has made it clear he’s a Mormon, he believes what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and all those who follow after them as leaders have stated.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, conscience is as good a reason as any not to vote for Romney. Just don’t condemn those who can vote for Romney in good conscience, because they don’t see his Mormonism as a threat to the civil realm.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, conscience is as good a reason as any not to vote for Romney. Just don’t condemn those who can vote for Romney in good conscience, because they don’t see his Mormonism as a threat to the civil realm.

  • Bob

    Tom,

    I’m afraid you may be way over Grace’s head on that one. It involves nuance.

  • Bob

    Tom,

    I’m afraid you may be way over Grace’s head on that one. It involves nuance.