If Mitt Romney’s association with Bain Capital ends up sinking his presidential campaign, he’s unlikely to appreciate the irony. But, if he needs consolation, he might consider seeking solace in American history. The fact is that no successful businessman has ever been a successful president, and only a few have even been serious contenders for the job. This might seem odd, given Americans’ long romance with wealthy entrepreneurs and the enterprises they build.
Amid all of the commentary this week on what the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country thinks of the Obama’s campaign attacks on Bain Capital (Democratic blowback!), I’ve seen little analysis of what Obama is actually up to with his critique of Romney. If you take a look at what Obama is actually saying, he’s not only attacking Romney for the infelicitous particulars of private equity, he is more broadly suggesting that Romney’s background as a businessman—the chief asset Romney is running on—does not necessarily translate into being a good president.
Mitt Romney has shed the dark blue suit, white shirt, and pale blue tie of his 2008 campaign for an open-neck tattersall shirt with its sleeves rolled up. His sideburns are graying, and his eyes are lined, but he still sports a boyish grin and radiates the can-do enthusiasm of a man who is promising to turn the country around the way he once turned around the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
Barack Obama’s speech Monday night about the debt ceiling will help him politically by painting the Republican opposition as heartless and intransigent and his own approach—to use the word of the night—as “balanced.” Obama even framed the choice in somewhat populist terms by portraying the Republicans as unwilling to ask big business and the wealthy to make the sacrifices they want to exact from the rest of society.
As Mitt Romney gradually expands his lead in national polls of Republicans, and his would-be “true conservative” rivals struggle to emerge from the Lilliputian pack, there’s a growing consensus that GOP voters are more concerned about picking an electable nominee than in maintaining the conservative purity of their party. This belief nicely coincides with the abiding faith of Beltway pundits that the ideological bender represented by the Tea Party movement is coming to an end as the Great Big Adults of the Daddy Party reassert control.
Joe Klein, writing in Time, divides the Republican field between sensible moderates like Mitt Romney and nutty outsiders. Here's Mitt Romney being sane and wonky, according to Klein: "Barack Obama has failed America," Mitt Romney said unequivocally at his first New Hampshire town meeting, repeating the signature line of his presidential-campaign announcement speech a day earlier. Unequivocal is not a word that traditionally has been associated with the former Massachusetts governor, but that was then, and the retooled edition of candidate Romney is much improved.
[Guest post by James Downie] Gather round, everyone! George Will has a history lesson for us! Last month, Barack Obama was asked by an interviewer from Texas why he is so unpopular there. Obama replied: “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.” Well, yes, “always” — if you believe, as many baby boomers seem to, that the world began when they became more or less sentient. But, for the record: Texas, one of the 11 states of the Confederacy, was, for historic reasons, part of the solidly Democratic South for almost a century after the Civil War.