It is often suggested that attacks from Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and like-minded pundits upon Mitt Romney’s private-sector career at Bain Capital will strengthen Romney as a candidate, because they give him an opportunity to practice deflecting similar attacks that will surely come from the Obama campaign during the general election. In that case, maybe Gingrich and Perry had better keep it up, because Romney needs more practice.
“We’ve understood for a long time that the Obama people would come after free enterprise,” Romney assured reporters aboard a campaign flight. “I’m a little surprised to see Newt Gingrich as the first witness for the prosecution.”
“I don’t think that’s going to hurt my efforts,” Romney continued. “If I can’t take a few shots from my colleagues on the Republican side, then I’m not ready for Barack Obama.”
Well said! If only he had stopped there.
But he didn’t.
Asked if his response to attacks on his Bain Capital career would be different when they came from Obama, Romney replied, “Well, I’d like to look at Barack Obama’s record, and so as we talk about my experience in the private sector, I’ll talk about his experience… he’s now been a venture capitalist in Solyndra, Fisker, the Tesla… and he’s been a private equity guy in General Motors and Chrysler, so I’ll be talking about his record when I’m facing him. The other guys, they don’t have a record in the private economy, so it’ll be, I think, a different approach.”
Dear God. I’d boldface the objectionable parts of that quote, but it would turn your entire screen black.
Barack Obama is not a “venture capitalist” with a “record in the private sector.” The compulsory extraction of funding from taxpayers by force, to fund massive expenditures on politically favored companies run by top Obama campaign contributors, is not “venture capitalism.” It’s not really capitalism at all, although the term “crony capitalism” has become popular for describing it.
The contrast of success versus failure that Romney is trying to draw here is reasonable, and politically smart, but dignifying what Obama has done, with terms that should be absolutely reserved for the voluntary actions of free men and women exercising their economic liberty, is a hideous mistake. The difference between Bain Capital and Obama Inc. lies in more than just their returns on investment. Comparisons between them must be made on more than just the grounds of effectiveness.
You can’t have capitalism without capital… but other economic and political systems revolve around the control of capital, too. The word “capital” does not appear in their names.
Romney could have said that Obama was “pretending” to be a venture capitalist, or thrown in a line emphasizing the crucial moral difference between voluntary investment and statist subsidies. He could have simply used the phrase “venture socialism,” which is both catchy and a much more accurate description of what Obama has been up to. Have none of the GOP candidates learned the importance of controlling language to frame the terms of this crucial debate?
But to explicitly state that Obama has been “a private equity guy in General Motors and Chrysler…!”
And to say that Obama’s horrific statist failures give him “a record in the private economy” that Romney’s Republican critics lack…!