Romney is Getting Bum Rap for His Brand of Capitalism

After all, he is just doing what his kind do and doing it very well

Shame on those traitorous Republicans who have the audacious temerity to disparage Mitt Romney for his workaday career as a successful leveraged-buyout capitalist. Don’t these mendacious munchkins of political skullduggery realize that their unremitting bombasts and assaults on the source of Romney’s wealth threaten to expose the very core philosophy of the Republican Party to scorn? After all, if the Republican Party can’t unite to speak for and defend the wealthy, then who, for God’s sakes, will?

Instead of attempting to eviscerate Romney, they should be celebrating the fact that — despite being forced to start his capitalist career with a measly inheritance of only a few million dollars — he has been able to build it into hundreds of millions in personal wealth. Isn’t that what the American brand of capitalism is all about?

Thank goodness stalwart Republican leaders like John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani have the courage to answer that question, and come to the defense of Romney and their party.

Never mind that in the book Game Change, all three of them were exposed for standing at the urinals in a men’s room during a break in a 2008 Republican debate laughing and mocking Romney as a phony, only to discover that he was in one of the stalls. Now they have taken it in their hands to defend him. (It is interesting that Sarah Palin has not taken up the defense of Romney, but then again, she was not in the men’s room.)

Faint Praise Goes a Long Way

In a recent CBS News television interview, McCain, the party’s 2008 nominee, said that the Bain Capital firm, where Romney worked as its chief executive, profited from businesses that ultimately didn’t succeed “perhaps more than they should have in a fair and equal world.” McCain also claimed that attacks from Romney’s challengers, like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, go against Republican principles. McCain seemed to be making the point that creating “a fair and equal world” was not a concern of Romney or an objective of Republican principles.

In the CBS interview McCain specifically stated, “These attacks on Bain Capital is really kind of anathema to everything that we believe in. We believe in job creation, and the record of Bain Capital is to take companies that would otherwise fail and restore them to some kind of viability, and sometimes that doesn’t work, but, you know, when it always works it is a thing called communism, where you keep everybody in business.”

McCain scored a double-bagger here: He not only defended Romney, but at the same time was able in insinuate that anyone who did attack Romney was probably a Communist.

But wait a minute. Aren’t you the same McCain who, in 2008, said Romney was “more of a manager than a leader”? And the McCain who told The New York Times, “As head of his investment company he presided over the acquisition of companies that laid-off thousands of workers.” For sure you severely chastised your former campaign manager Rick Davis who, referring to Romney, told the Boston Globe, “He learned politics and economics from being a venture capitalist, where you go and buy companies, you strip away the jobs and you resell them. And if that’s what his experience has been to be able to lead our economy, I’d really raise questions.”

But you really have to get in line if you’re a Republican looking to bravely face the hostile fire of those attacking Romney. Mike Huckabee was there, too. He emailed his list of supporters (all six of them) the following, “…It’s surprising to see so many Republicans embrace that left wing argument (there are those damn Commies again) against capitalism.” He turned up the heat on the Republican malcontents when he went on to explain the motivation and logic of Romney’s actions as the implementation of “creative destruction.” This is like where you go in and destroy a company in order to “save” it to create wealth – especially for you and your partners. Huckabee wrote, “It’s terrible for the workers who lose their jobs, and nobody likes to see viable companies looted and destroyed. But if downsizing can turn around a failing company, then at least it prevents all the jobs from being lost and it sets up a stronger company that can grow and start rehiring.”

Clearly Romney needs more friends like Huckabee whose comments seem more like “friendly fire” than anything else. To justify “looting and destroying viable companies” in the name of “turn around” and taking out huge profits in the process is damning with faint praise. Of course these comments come from a guy who once quipped, “Romney looks like the guy who fires you, not the guy who hires you.”

The other member of this trifecta of Romney defenders is the pugnacious and ubiquitous Rudy Giuliani. (No man has ever so successfully turned a national disaster into such an enduring cottage industry.) Rushing quickly to appear on “Fox and Friends” with the sanctimonious seriousness of a mortician at a train wreck, he indignantly said that he was “shocked” by the actions of Gingrich and Perry. Barely able to contain his burning rage, Giuliani blurted out, “I’m outraged…it’s ignorant, dumb. It’s building something we should be fighting in America – ignorance of the economic system.” With that off his chest, Giuliani goes on to describe Romney as the candidate he was least likely to endorse, but that is beside the point; what we are doing here is protecting capitalism and the basic principles of the Republican Party.

For his part, Romney has offered the succinct defense that these attackers are simply “filled with envy.”

Romney’s Attackers Just Don’t Get It

Clearly the Republicans attacking Romney don’t understand that capitalism – like life itself – is not always pretty. Capitalism is like the food-chain of life, with a distinct pecking order and different responsibilities to keep the system functioning. Romney understands this and is playing his part well.

In life, each species plays a role in the overall continuation of life; the same is true in capitalism. One the most important roles is that of a scavenger. In the ecosystem of life, scavengers are animals or fish that survive and feed on other dead or injured animals or fish. These scavengers are not usually held in high esteem, but they do have a job to do: they clean the earth of organic garbage. The lion is held in esteem as the majestic king of the jungle, while the vulture is seen as an ugly and repulsive scavenger. (Ask a child in school if they had to be an animal: Would they rather be a lion or vulture?) But the vulture is important; they don’t do anything except constantly lurk and hover above the fray looking for the opportunity to clean up the mess left by the work of the lion. But can you imagine how messy things would be if we didn’t have vultures and other scavengers to keep the earth clean of organic garbage?

The ecosystem of capitalism is structured and functions in much the same way. There are those who innovate, create, build and spread wealth. They become the kings of capitalism that make it work for the broad benefit of all. But sometimes they make a mess and when they do then there is a need for a scavenger to clean up the garbage of capitalism. Those who fill this important role become the “vulture capitalists” of capitalism. These vulture capitalists are not held in high esteem because they don’t invent or make anything and don’t add any real new value, but they perform a critical function in the preservation of capitalism. Like other scavengers, they survive and prosper by feeding at the pickings of injured or failed companies.

Sure, these vulture capitalists can be fodder for criticism. Ask any business student if they had a choice of being like: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg or Carl Icahn, Irwin Jacobs and Kirk Kerkorian? All of these men established records as successful and wealthy capitalists, but it is pretty evident who the top three picks would be. The first three are the obvious lions of capitalism, while the other three (“The Raider,” “The Liquidator” and “Mr. Rifle Right”) were the vultures of capitalism.

All have the right to make a choice as to the part they want to play in practicing the art of capitalism. It is just not right or fair to pick on Romney for making the decision to become a scavenger of capitalism. He made the decision to become a vulture capitalist and he has done a damn fine job being one.

Of course, it does lead to one final question: When picking a president to lead the nation; to provide vision, to build, to create and to have concern for all, do we want a lion or a vulture?

And the Moral of the Story …

The members of the Republican Party have a right to be outraged – indeed all of us should be – over these virulent attacks on Romney as a vulture capitalist. The massive wealth Romney has been able to amass scavenging among the organic garbage of capitalism proves he is among the best vulture capitalists around and all should give him due credit. After all, while very few of us would want to have a vulture as a pet, nevertheless vultures are people too and they should have the right to do what they do without being mocked by those who have nothing but envy.

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