Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Bain of Politics

I try not to comment on politics unless I have some deep personal insight to note. The reason for this is simple: 95 percent of it is meaningless spin that each party throws out there as red meat to rally its base; To cause as much phony outrage as possible, then get the media to cover it as "news".

Frank Mankiewicz is quoted for calling Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, "the most accurate, least factual" account of the election. The antics of mis-telling a story was once relegated to a single outrageous writer acting on his own regard. No longer. Its now part of both  party machines. An industry onto itself.  In the moment, its hard to discern what is real and what is spin. Only time will distinguish the two.

This is why CNN is so terrible. They try to stand still in a moving world. They can't both be accurate and up-to-the-minute. It's nearly impossible. A whistleblower can only do their job once the dust has settled. They can then move in and investigate the mess left behind. See what remains of the remains. By then, the attention of the American public has moved on. The nomadic herd has left to find newer pastures. The news  machines don't stick around to figure out what really happened, but move with the herd to be first on the scene with the next story - wherever that might be. Somewhere back there, in the entrails of the herd, is the truth - which has missed its opportunity to be brought to light. 

The bane of politics is when everything is newsworthy, nothing is.

The exception is when some straight talk comes out of the candidate's mouth. No spin. No hidden meanings. This often happens when they are asked to defend themselves and the explanation is worse than the original charge. Self-incrimination. Should have pleaded the 5th.

I don't care that Bain Capital outsourced jobs and everyone involved made millions. It was the 1990s, this was the financial fad of the time. Everyone and their brother did it. It was a move that saved companies by making them globally competitive. Most of them would have gone under otherwise. When Obama attacked Romney for being "CEO, Chairman, President and sole stockholder" of a company that outsourced jobs, he initially got backlash from his own party for good reason. People in both parties are highly involved in private equity.

Team Obama pressed forth nonetheless. Romney felt threatened. It hit a nerve. His response was simple: I wasn't there at the time - I was off managing the Winter Olympics and doing a darn good job at it- so you can't blame me for what Bain did after 1999. He was an absentee CEO. Considering his position, he still had the power to stop it if he wanted to. But he didn't. The money was too good. He didn't question it. Nonetheless, I buy Mitt Romney's reasoning. I wouldn't have questioned what the company did, either. The incentives were aligned not to. Fair enough.

But if you were gone Mr. Mitt, were you still paid to be CEO? The company's SEC filings are clear on this one, yes he was. He earned a salary, by his own account, was for "doing absolutely nothing." 

I would love that deal. Get paid for doing nothing. It's everyone's dream job. But for anyone who has a political future, they should know that will not sit right with the American public. While everyone one else was working hard for a paycheck - pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into their job; wondering if they will be able to feed their family - Romney was getting paid for doing nothing. Sigh. 

That's the Bain of Mitt Romney. Getting the check while standing outside the arena.

I leave you with this:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt

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