The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 5, 2012

R. Duane Graham, guest columnist: Romney’s ‘capitalist’ background questionable

By R. Duane Graham
The Joplin Globe

— House Speaker John Boehner told CNN’s Candy Crowley last Sunday, “The American people do not want to vote for a loser. They don’t want to vote for someone who hasn’t been successful. I think Mitt Romney has a chance to show the American people that they, too, can succeed.”

Ah, there it was again. The old you-can-be-a-multimillionaire-too meme — a meme that the moneyed class has used in various forms at least since the dawn of industrialization to get working stiffs to vote against their own interests and for the interests of the moneyed class. Mitt will show us that we are only one clock punch away from living on Snob Hill.

The GOP primary process, however, has revealed that the nominee in waiting is exactly the wrong kind of candidate “to show the American people that they, too, can succeed.” It’s not exactly a rags-to-riches story for Romney, unless one is talking about his father — which Mitt does a lot. And the reason he talks so much about his father is because the Romney we are blessed with this year knows that his personal story is not exactly one that Americans are, or should be, comfortable with.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to  Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Romney’s moneymaking machine, Bain Capital: “I will suggest they’re just vultures. They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick. And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton.”

“There is nothing wrong with being successful and making money. But getting rich off failure and sticking someone else with the bill is indefensible,” Perry also said.

Or listen to another fellow Republican, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who offered his opinion about Romney and Bain: “He’s gonna have to explain why would Bain have taken $180 million out of a company and then have it go bankrupt, and to what extent did they have some obligation to the workers?”

“Is it the kind of country you want to live in to have a system where somebody can come in, take over your company, take out all the cash and leave behind a wreck? And they go off to a country club having a great time and you go off to the unemployment line,” added Gingrich.

Now is that what Boehner was talking about? Is Romney going to show Americans that we can all enjoy everlasting financial security by feasting on the carcasses of the unfortunate? Keep in mind, of course, that Perry and Gingrich are now Romney’s political friends — Perry endorsed him last week and Gingrich is expected to do so as well — and that the distinctions they made about Romney’s “success” can be spun as things said in the heat of a contentious primary campaign.

But even though it has been a while since I have heard the words “vulture” and “Romney” uttered in the same sentence, Democrats have to keep reminding American voters what even Romney’s friends have said about this strange Republican, and keep reminding them that the way Romney made his money is relevant.

As a blogger at the right-wing website Red State said, “We know that Bain killed American jobs when it meant profit for the shareholders and investors. When political profit is at stake, will Mitt do what is right for America, or will he serve his own best interests?”

The writer continued, “Whether Bain Capital is good, or evil, necessary or sleazy, is beside the point. They do what they do (though some specific deals may be questionable), and it’s all apparently legal. It is also irrelevant. What is relevant is what his Bain days say about Mitt Romney’s character, and for that reason alone the discussion is both necessary and appropriate.”

R. Duane Graham lives in Joplin.