After living through two years of bumbling attempts by a former CEO to run state government like a business, I had a flash of recognition when I heard Mitt Romney’s take on the Israeli/Palestinian problem.
Tea Party Republican and former HCA Columbia Chair Rick Scott, who spent $75 million of his own money on his campaign, took over the Florida governorship confident he would use his business skills to root out waste, slash the state payroll, get rid of regulations that hold back business, and create jobs. One of his first moves was to turn down millions in federal assistance to build a high-speed rail line that would have employed Floridians, taken cars off the eight-lane parking lots that serve as commuter roads, and made the state a leader in the transportation technology of the future.
From there, he rolled out a series of privatization proposals, such as turning over prisons to corporate managers and allowing developers to build golf courses in state parks. Within weeks of taking office, Scott’s approval ratings hit record lows, along with Florida’s employment numbers, which under Scott’s leadership have remained worse than the nation as a whole.
Scott’s solution has not been to try a new approach. Instead, like any entrenched CEO, he has subjected residents to a series of public relations initiatives intended to boost his popularity and let him get on with the business of robbing the public till.
Which brings us to Bain Capital CEO Mitt Romney. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan was one of many Republicans who criticized the captain of industry’s reaction to the recent Libyan consulate violence as unstatesmanlike. Now Noonan is expanding on her belief that the businessman is in trouble.
The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant “rolling calamity.”
Noonan believes that Romney needs to find himself a new CEO because it’s impossible to both run your campaign and…campaign.
The candidate is out there every day standing for things, fighting for a hearing, trying to get the American people to listen, agree and follow. That’s where his energies go…The candidate cannot oversee strategy, statements, speechwriting, ads. He shouldn’t be debating what statistic to put on slide four of the Powerpoint presentation. He has to learn to trust others—many others.
Noonan seems to be saying that Romney is a micromanager. That could be one of his many problems but to me, like Rick Scott, his much touted business background is his very shortcoming. Let’s go back to Romney’s comments on Israel and Palestine.
[S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.
Romney continued in this, “It’s too hard so screw it,” vein which, as most CEOs would recognize, is the same thing as saying you’ll take your business elsewhere.
But guess what? Presidents can’t do that. They don’t have the luxury of pulling out of unprofitable markets. They can’t decide who they’ll do business with. They deal with what comes along, bad and good. And they’re stuck with a lot of bad.
As Pres. Obama said, about a year into his term, only the hardest problems end up on his desk because if they were easy to solve, someone down the line would have already done so. Presidents only make one type of decision: hard, seemingly “unsolvable” ones.
So when Romney says there is no hope for peace in the Middle East, and you “recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” he’s really telling us he doesn’t have what it takes to be president. Thanks Mitt. That’s what I thought but you’re making it crystal clear. Or, as you might say, you’re sealing the deal.