A Challenge to Gingrich, Perry, Romney

Attacking or Governing Like Libs

A number of Republican candidates have begun to assail Mitt Romney on the basis of his time with Bain Capital, notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, but the criticisms they level miss the mark in most respects, and worse, play upon the very worst arguments of leftists who say capitalism is inherently evil because it seeks profit and will occasionally lead to short-term job losses.  I have no problem criticizing Mitt Romney when it’s deserved, as these pages witness, but I have definite problems with this approach to attacking Romney.  It’s not that he’s immune to attack, and as I have covered, not everything ever done under the banner of Bain is beyond reproach, but this idea that buying companies, and subsequently liquidating them to turn a profit is a bad thing is quite obviously not one of them.

I have some pointed advice for former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and my own Governor, Rick Perry of Texas:  If you want to criticize Mitt Romney, stick to those parts of his record where he actually did something wrong.  Don’t berate him with the same things Obama will use to appeal to  his base, but instead concentrate on those things that appeal to the conservative base.  In short, focus on how Mitt Romney governed.

It’s amazing when even Ron Paul defends Romney on this point, while Gingrich and Perry attack.  None but the ignorant who live in a capitalist nation should have a problem with the aspects of capitalism that seek profit, sometimes by liquidating assets.  That’s not altogether unlike you having a garage sale and getting rid of things you aren’t using, or that are not up to snuff any longer, trying to recover some of their value before they become effectively worthless.  The money you re-capture by such a sale certainly helps you to pay other bills, or buy new items that more fully suit one’s purposes.  You can take the cash and invest it in a completely new venture.  This is an important function in any market, including in business, and to besmirch it as somehow wrong is a terrible disservice to the entire notion of capitalism.

I can name a number of things that Mitt Romney has done while governor of Massachusetts that deserve more than a little derision.  The problem is that neither Gingrich nor Perry are apt to say much about them, since they’ve advocated or  implemented similar.   Gingrich formerly favored healthcare mandates, and while he’s reversed his position on that, it’s hard for him to take pot-shots at Romney on this basis without somebody pulling out the label “hypocrite.”  Perry pushed for his Gardasil vaccine, and that too is a mandate, though of a different character and scale, but both speak to the same basic problem Romney has, and it’s worthwhile to note that where Gingrich and Romney differ on the healthcare insurance mandate is this:  Only Mitt ever actually imposed one.

I have addressed Romney’s imposition of health-care mandates and the various other programs of a socialist nature he imposed while governor of Massachusetts, and it’s true that in terms of what he has actually enacted, he is certainly the most socialistic big-government-inclined politician of the bunch.  He is definitely the candidate the media will attack most vigorously for both his vices and his virtues, but it is disappointing to see Gingrich and Perry attack on this basis.  If they’re smart, they’ll stop it, but part of the problem is that they’re falling into a well-laid trap set by the mainstream media:  The media is left-biased in the extreme, so what Gingrich and Perry are doing is to pick up the criticisms that will travel farthest in the media.  The media loves these attacks, and will revisit them many times over if Romney gets the nomination, but the attacks conservative Republicans should be aiming at Mitt Romney are not things the overwhelmingly liberal media wants to attack.

Falling for this is a terrible mistake, because it will not be the liberal media that chooses the Republicans’ nominee.  Gingrich is right to point out that Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan is a terrible leftist disaster, and that Obamacare had been largely modeled after it.  Perry would be right to raise Mitt’s “Welfare Wheels” program, or any of the other big government ideas that advanced while Romney was governor there.  Either would make perfect sense explaining how Romney was a friend of Teddy Kennedy’s legislative agenda, or how Romney was the beneficiary of crony capitalism on a few occasions.  Nobody on the conservative side would be offended by that.  The problem is that both of them are vulnerable on similar issues, and while perhaps to lesser degrees, they still have some explaining to do.  The problem is that it’s all the easier to simply attack Romney from a point of view more appealing to leftists in part because the media will transmit that message more willingly, but also in part because they believe they will get away with it.

I’d issue this challenge to Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich:  Tell us the things about Mitt Romney’s record that condemn him as a big-government statist, and those things that mitigate the timber in your own eyes on these issues, and we’ll get along famously.  I’d issue a further challenged to Governor Romney:  Be prepared to explain in some sensible terms why tyranny imposed at the Federal level is bad, but at the state level, it’s no problem at all.  His pathetic “federalism” excuse for  Romney-care doesn’t cut it, and never has.   Governor Romney can impress the hell out of me by explaining to the American people why capitalism is good, but then he’s going to need to explain why he undertook so many programs and laws as the governor of Massachusetts that did nothing but undermine it.

This has been the sick irony of this insufficient field. It’s why 58% of Republicans don’t really like any of these candidates.  Gingrich and Perry had better drop the politically expedient attacks that are merely anti-capitalist rants, and instead hammer on Romney for those things that were egregiously offensive to liberty, and they’d better prepare when questions are raised about their own big-government reflexes.  Otherwise, voters just might get wise to this whole sad game, and walk away from the party this fall. After all, what is worse?  A nominee like Romney who would effectively govern like Obama, or a nominee who relies upon Obama’s tired class-warfare and anti-capitalist rhetoric?  Neither do I want a nominee who subverts capitalism in governing, nor do I want one who assails it in the press.  We need a president who will undertake to restore capitalism, and I don’t see much evidence that any of these three will do so.

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  • http://gravatar.com/teefrtwo Gail

    Mark, I think you should be Gingrich election adviser…you have it right

    • http://www.markamerica.com MarkAmerica

      Gail, You're very kind, but I won't hold my breath waiting for the call… Thanks!

  • Gary P

    Very well done. But you leave out the fact that given the chance, had Newt been in office, his own "NewtCare" is EXACTLY like RomneyCare, except on a national level.

    • http://www.markamerica.com MarkAmerica

      Gary, I could write a ten page post with all the details of all their records, but I think the point is made.

  • CPB

    Mark – Wouldn't it be better if Gingrich & Perry just talked about the positive aspects of what they would do and let us determine what is different than the bad stuff Obama AND Romney want to do? Or is that giving too much credit to the intellegence of the average uneducated, uninformed voter? OK – gues I answered my own question…. :-)

    • http://www.markamerica.com MarkAmerica

      Well, there's certainly merit to your idea, but the problem may be this, and I'm afraid to tell you this, because I don't like it any better than you: Negative campaigns work to a certain extent. Negatives alone won't win, but the negative ad is effective.

  • Bill Metzger

    "We need a president who will undertake to restore capitalism, and I don’t see much evidence that any of these three will do so."

    Right.

    SARAH!

  • http://rebintexas.wordpress.com RebinTexas

    Good point, well made. We seem to prefer to eating our own as the media eggs us on, rather than having the intelligence to go after real issues that concern many Republicans, Independents, Conservatives, and Tea Party folk.

    Sad to say much of this has not surprised me and is about what I expected to witness. This is just one more great example of why so many of us are dissatisfied with the present field of candidates.

    Thanks for all your writing. I like the way you get right to the point.

    Reb

  • hey_sherm

    "voters just might get wise to this whole sad game" Yep your right, the establishment game, makes no different if its democratic or republican there just one in the same. I mean when a Republican is now telling us capitalism is immoral hell that's what democrats been telling us for years. You know that crazy old man they call Ron Paul he starts to make a lot sense sometimes, talking all that nonsense about personal liberty and economic freedom but i know you can't support the crazy guy that would be stepping out of the establishment box.