Saturday, January 14, 2012



Geoffrey G. Fisher
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recently, a friend of mine from college emailed me the long awaited video, “When Mitt Romney Came to Town.”  I made a decision to watch all of it – all 28 minutes and 6 seconds of it. 

The film was disturbing, not because of substance of the script itself but rather because of the maniacal mind behind the film - Newton Leroy McPherson Gingrich.  This political “ad” is 56 times longer than conventional ads for one reason – to fully vent Mr. Gingrich’s anger for his poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Most republicans will find this video creepy because it represents everything they are not.  The themes include the rich versus the poor, and the nefarious Wall Street financiers versus regular Joes.  Issues such as labor negotiations are ignored as was the need of any company or venture to make a profit.  The film was melodramatic to the point of being cheesy.

Some will argue that Newt’s actions are prepping the campaign strategy for President Obama – they are correct.  But at the same time the former speaker is inoculating Mr. Romney with a mild pathogen - the antibodies should be ready for the general campaign against the president, David Axelrod and company.  Many Democrats wallow in the atmosphere of class warfare which is why the Occupy movement prospered so much during the warm months of the summer and the fall.  The tone of Newt’s video was set when the narrator states that Mitt Romney was set to take his well-heeled Harvard Education and go ravage middle class America.

Republicans and clear-thinking Democrats should react to his educational pedigree differently.  Mr. Romney was Valedictorian and commencement speaker at his BYU graduation; he then went on to Cambridge, Massachusetts to obtain both MBA and JD degrees from Harvard University.  Many of the left including the Gingrich fringe chide the former governor for looking like a president from central casting, with a beautiful wide and five strapping boys. 

Those attributes didn’t hurt John F. Kennedy with his contemporizes or with historians and it shouldn’t be seen as a liability.  Indeed, no one should hold Newt’s looks against him either even though he looks like he fell off the turnip truck, landing on his head as he was completing a lengthy sentence.  Would it be fair to say that Newt Gingrich looks like MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman all grown up?  The answer is no.  To launch any type of attack against someone’s looks or good looks is simply wrong.
University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business economist Steven Kaplan has said "[Romney] came up with a model that was very successful and very innovative and that now everybody uses”.  All Romney did was to add partial ownership in a company to the customary consulting fees of a venture capitalist.  After 16 years at Bain Capital (1983-1999) and 22 years with Bain and Company (1977-1999) Mitt Romney had built an impressive career as a man who can get things done.  Governor Romney only enhanced this reputation with his stewardship of the 2002 Utah Winter Olympics. 

And yes, there were failures as noted in Newt's video tome, but there were many more success stories in the private sector.  Just look at a partial list of Mr. Romney’s accomplishments: Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, Corning Incorporated, Staples Inc. Accuride, Brookstone, Domino's Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Sports Authority, and Artisan Entertainment.  I think it is safe to say that nearly every American has patronized on of these American companies.  It is also safe to say that Mr. Romney directly created more jobs than all of his Republican competitors combined.

Mr. Gingrich contents that Mr. Romney is a corporate raider bent on looting companies and in turn ruining small town America.  Steven N. Kaplan, an expert on the private equity industry, says that's "ridiculous." – NPR interview

"Looting a company and destroying a company does not create value," says Chicago’s Kaplan. "At the end of the day, in order to make money, you have to sell the company to somebody, and if the company ... has been looted and is unproductive, nobody is going to buy it."

According to NPR, “…Colin Blaydon, who heads the Tuck Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College, says sometimes boosting value can also mean cutting costs.

You might ask your employees to take lower pay. You may shift the jobs somewhere else. You may replace people with robots, he says.

In that case, the gains are not so widely shared…that while private equity's bare-knuckle cost-cutting may be painful, it's really what any good manager should do…(t)hat's what we want in our economy, if our economy is going to be more valuable and more competitive," he said.

Bain Capital's approach of applying consulting expertise to the companies it invested in became widely copied within the private equity industry.  Steven Kaplan still maintains that "[Romney] came up with a model that was very successful and very innovative and that now everybody uses”. – NPR interview

The larger issue that Mr. Gingrich’s video inadvertently raises is that of character.  It was Mr. Gingrich, not Mr. Romney who was charged with 84 ethics charges, including a $300,000 fine as Speaker of the House of Representatives.  More importantly, it was Speaker Gingrich and not Governor Romney who cheated on his first two wives, and is now married to his former mistress Callista Bisek.  This is Hubris not conservatism.

Speaker Gingrich is not suited to be president because of temperament and because of his lack of control in his personal life.  In essence, he has too many shared traits with another poor boy from the south, William Jefferson Clinton. 

Newt Gingrich does have a supple mind for public policy and navigating legislation though congress – he would make an excellent Chief of Staff or Legislative Policy Advisor to President Romney.
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