Why Romney’s CEO Presidency Won’t Fly

December 18th, 2010 at 10:31 am | 27 Comments |

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Reading David’s piece on Romney’s triangulation as customer service, the “case” for Romney, then, reminds me of the famous quotation from Andrew Bonar Law, British Prime Minister in the early 1920s, that “I am their leader; I must follow them.”  Is this really what America needs at a time of economic stagnation, political gridlock, and serious crises abroad?

Yet Romney, a genuinely successful management consultant, would be the first to recognize the problem with David’s analogy of a customer unsatisfied with the fettuccine at the Olive Garden.  From a management perspective, yes, of course be polite to the customer, but the fettuccine must be cooked only according to the recipe – otherwise, there is no way to ensure quality control across the different restaurants.  After all, this was all planned out long in advance, the recipe tested in our kitchens, and management is merely executing the plan.  (By extension, if there is a flaw in the manner of how the recipe is being implemented at that particular restaurant, time to call in the head office, which will set them straight or find another franchisee.  Also by extension, mid-course corrections can be notoriously difficult, but a far sight easier in restaurant management than in, for instance, foreign policy.)

Whatever else they stand for, chains like Olive Garden signal to a prospective customer that the experience will be the same no matter where they are.  Successful Presidential brands generally do the same.  Certainly “Reagan” did.  To a large degree, so did “Clinton” and, with some variations, “George W. Bush.”  Romney?  No, other than a vague association with business success and the Olympics.  In politics, he’s only generally known for the Massachusetts health plan bearing strong similarities to Obamacare.  (The number of Republicans who think he served two terms – he served only one and declined to run for reelection – is surprising.)

And to pound the analogy flatter than veal scallopine, the next President will have many, many occasions to inform the “customers” that they cannot have what they want precisely how they want it – America simply cannot afford it.  Does the next President have the courage to do so?  What proof do we have?  Customer service and management consulting is a good model to run a company, even a large government agency.  (Business leaders work best in government at agencies that bear some similarity to business, such as Social Security or Medicare.)  But President?  No – the style of leadership we need in a President right now is very different than corporate leadership.  It’s far more about negotiation and persuasion than command, control, and organization management, to say nothing of the need for principles beyond customer service during the 3:00 AM phone calls made famous in the last campaign.  Prove those things first, to help decide whether someone might make a good President.  That’s why Romney’s triangulation on the tax deal – really, on raising taxes during a recession – was so disturbing and why it’s important to know what a person stands for before they become President.

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    “Yet Romney, a genuinely successful management consultant…”

    Successful, yes – in the areas of asset-stripping, job-destruction, and the use of off-shore tax havens.

    If he is the Republican nominee, the Democrats have a lot more than just his record of flip-flopping to beat him with.

  • armstp

    Actually Romney has some management consulting expertise, but most of his experience was in private equity and investing. He was the LBO king at Bain Capital, which he founded as a separate entity to Bain & Company.

    There is a big difference between running a company that actually makes things and provides real services versus being a hooky consultant (every knows 70% of what consultants say is BS) or adding no real value to society as a financial engineer.

  • Shotgun314159

    The GOP has no “ONE” who is gonna inspire the right and then capture the middle.
    The only chance anyone will have is “if” the economy is still in the shitter.
    Even then Obama will have a BILLION in the bank.
    Romney doesn’t stand a chance.
    Hit Commercials Will Be
    Way To Easy.

  • politicalfan

    “Does the next President have the courage to do so?”

    Yes. President Barack Obama will be more seasoned in 2012 to answer these questions. Maybe the R’s need to concentrate on getting a strong candidate for 2012 then worry about what Romney is doing or not doing. I would only consider a R candidate if they are willing to stand against a lot of the bull that has been perpetuated in the last two years. A recent article that passes my mind made mentioned of how the Republicans do not want to upset the “wingnuts” of the party. As an Independent, I am waiting for that person who will tell the Sarah Palin’s of the party to refrain from isolating sections of America. We have real problems that need to be solved. We don’t need a light weight who doesn’t have the guts to stand up against ignorance. If they can’t be open to the prospects of embracing all Americans in their own country, how can we expect them to play nice with other countries. An exceptional America is also one that has strong allies.

    Romney should stop playing to a base that is not his. Be yourself, that is what we are missing in candidates today. Palin is an example of what not to do. She is a moderate gone mad, makes for great celebrity but she is a turn off. Bumper sticker Princess with attitude. Stop the insults and start acting serious. We need “serious” America!

  • politicalfan

    What not to do Romney! Don’t flip and flop too much and learn what the word “compromise” means.

    1. A flip flopper is a person who calls the media “lamestream” but jumps at the chance to have a flip flopper interview.
    2. A flip flopper is a moderate playing conservative.
    3. A flip flopper is not a President who must actually “Govern” by showing that he must sometimes get bipartisan support to move forward.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/part-palin-president-12428592

    Not to get political…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYSKn_iKY4I
    (Maybe a thing not to say)

  • Raskolnik

    “That’s why Romney’s triangulation on the tax deal – really, on raising taxes during a recession – was so disturbing”

    Really? The “tax deal” was “raising taxes during a recession”? By allowing (actually, by almost entirely not allowing) completely irresponsible and unaffordable “temporary” tax cuts to expire? That is your idea of “disturbing”? That is what you consider Romney’s major flaw as a candidate to be?

    Someone needs a reality check, stat.

  • dave227

    Mittens Romneycare does not and will never have the base of the repub party, and he would most definitely need it to defeat obama. He’s a worthless, blue blood, “my daddy was a billionaire governor so I became one too” rino. We do NOT want him as our nominee. We aren’t Europe, but for some reason we feel the need to let the aristocracy continue to lead us.
    Give me the self-made, corruption fighting, moose hunter from AK over the limousine rino romney. Palin is HATED by the media and the political establishment because she is the most effective voice for true conservatism in America today. She will have the Chicago machine Marxist stuttering his now infamous “uuuhh ugh”s in the first 5 minutes of a presidential debate.

  • Mitt Romney: Ultimate Panderer or Sincere Leader? | Mitt Romney Central

    [...] policy (using all sorts of weird fettuccine analogies), even going as far as elaborating on “Why Romney’s CEO Presidency Won’t Fly“. Here’s Frum on Romney: “Sincerity is everything – once you can fake that, [...]

  • politicalfan

    “Give me the self-made, corruption fighting, moose hunter from AK over the limousine rino romney. Palin is HATED by the media and the political establishment because she is the most effective voice for true conservatism in America today.”

    President Obama started with an incredible wave of hope. People were let down when he did not change things in his first year. Palin would be going in on a major low note, how many women support her? I guess if you lower the bar, then anything half done will seem like an accomplishment with a Palin as President. The problem with your theory is that Palin is not a conservative. Socially conservative? True. Fiscally conservative? She is a nice enough lady that would make a better reality celebrity. She will make my vote easier, a vote for the current President. I am sure Palin would be fun eat smores with but I would rather vote for an intellect or elitest or whatever else people want to call him. Show me a moderate Republican who has a brain and I am ready to listen.

  • dave227

    I would bet $5000 that Palin’s IQ is higher then obummer’s. He was a “C” student at Occidental college, but who is hahvard going to give a scholarship to- barrack Hussein Obama, who was a transplant from Indonesia (ooh, so diverse!), or regular everyday Sarah Heath from AK?
    Palin has fought for everything she has, from her degree that she had to pay for herself, to becoming gov after defeating a powerful repub incumbent. Obama has been nurtured by the communists here in Hawaii, and then thrust into power with the help of the Chicago “pay to play” machine.
    While palin was busy detroying the republican/big oil circle jerk in AK, obummer was busy aligning himself with every disgusting player in the Chicago machine. And obamabots thought they were voting for “change”.
    If palin said 1/10 of the moronic things that obummer and Biden have said these last 2 years, she would have been finished a long time ago. But thanks to a corrupt media and useful idiots like the politicalfan, most people have no idea of just how utterly incompetent obummer is.

  • politicalfan

    dave227,

    I am sure you are a fine person who strongly disagrees with me. I am still not impressed by Palin so if that makes me an idiot, this idiot will not be voting for Palin anytime soon.

    If my disapproval over her politics makes you that mad, perhaps a mirror might be needed so that you can look in it and figure out why your need to criticize the President’s politics is any better than my criticism of Palin’s politics. I simply do not buy that she is the answer to fiscal conservatism. If she becomes our President, I hope that you will remain content.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.adn.com/2008/09/19/530763/palin-fiscal-conservative.html

    dave- Sometimes critics have a tiny bit of truth, there is simply no need for them to hide it! BTW, Merry Christmas!
    http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/sarah-palin-fiscal-conservative/

  • Watusie

    dave “I would bet $5000 that Palin’s IQ is higher then obummer’s.”

    I accept your wager.

    Obama graduated Harvard Law magna cum laude, having been president of the law review.
    Palin needed six years and 5 schools to get a BA in sports journalism.

    Pay up.

  • dave227

    Politicalfan
    Isn’t it odd that the media always assures us that it’s the republicans who are dumb (Reagan, bush, palin) when the liberals have people like jimmah carta and Joe Biden running loose?
    And yes, if you vote for the Chicago machine marxist then you are a useful idiot of the Saul alinksky movement. Merry Christmas to you, too.

  • dave227

    Watusie
    I said higher IQ, not higher ability to exploit his exotic name and Indonesian transplant status to get into some liberal looney bin like harvard.

  • dave227

    Watusie
    Palin went to 5 schools because she had to work to pay for school. She’s been working since she was a teenager. Meanwhile, obummer somehow paid for harvard with $$ that’s never been accounted for. His first real job was working with Tony rezko, the convicted felon and slum lord who bought he and michelle’s mansion in Hyde park. Limousine liberals and their corrupt Chicago machine friends- gotta love em!

  • Watusie

    dave, I cited what he came out of Harvard Law School with – not how he got in.

    Palin did not work to pay for school. Her parents paid for her. And tell me please – how would “working to pay for school” even begin to explain the need to change schools so many times? Alaska to Hawaii to Idaho to Alaska to Idaho.

    The cost of moving alone would be catastrophic.

    You are exposed as a weasel. And very dim.

  • dave227

    Watusie
    Her parents paid for her school? That’s a complete lie. Her father was a 6th grade teacher and she had 3 or 4 siblings- there’s no way they could afford to pay for her college education. So she did what us common folk do, which was work, save and go to school.
    It’s hilarious to think that the limousine liberals that you so adamently defend look down on you as a simple peasant just the way they look at me.
    You’ve been exposed as an obamabot kool-aid chugger.

  • politicalfan

    dave227-
    “And yes, if you vote for the Chicago machine marxist then you are a useful idiot of the Saul alinksky movement. Merry Christmas to you, too.”

    Yes, I voted for the Chicago machine. I could not support a Palin VP and she reminds me often that I was correct.

    Thanks for the (idiot) comment and a Happy New Year to you as well. BTW, I don’t think you are an idiot. Consider Saul passed away in 1972, not sure I know much about him. What’s your issue with Alinsky? I don’t care that people don’t disagree with me, just trying to figure out your point.

  • Watusie

    dave “did what us common folk do, which was work, save and go to school.”

    What a lie. Name one place she worked, one job she held. This would be a bedrock of her bio, given that it demonstrates what a plucky little gal she was, even back then. Problem is, it isn’t true. Which is why there is nothing out there about the jobs she held – they don’t exist.

    Yes, her dad was a teacher – so was her mom. A two-income family. Back in the 80′s prudent middle class families could afford to send their kids to college.

    And you still haven’t addressed the question: how would Sarah having to work to pay for school even begin to explain the need to change schools so many times? Alaska to Hawaii to Idaho to Alaska to Idaho. The cost of moving alone would be catastrophic.

    You are as a weasel, and not very bright. And you’ve lost this bet. You owe me $5,000.

  • dave227

    My point is that Palin rose to power fighting corruption while Obama used it to make his mark. AK’s political landscape is littered with REPUBLICAN bodies because of Palin’s refusal to stand for backroom deals. She cleaned out the republican/big oil circle jerk as oil and gas regulator, chairman of the energy conservation commission and gov. When McCain picked her she was held in utter contempt by both worthless political establishments up there, but earned an almost 90% approval rating from the people she served. She sold the private jet, fired the private chef (despite having 5 children to feed), and refused the governor’s car. THAT’S the kind of leader i want.
    Meanwhile, Obama was using scumbags like rev racist, bill ayers, Bernadine dorhn, Tony rezko, rashid khalidi, blago, Louie Farrakhan, ACORN, and many others in the land of “pay to play” to get ahead. As i said before, he aligned himself with some of the worst people around to get ahead and the media completely ignored this fact. Instead, they sent 200 “reporters” to wasilla AK after mccain picked her. They somehow never found time to make a pit stop in Illinois.
    Chicago politics represents everything wrong with our current system, and the fact that the media propped up obama as some kind of new guy in town, while simultaneously doing everything in its power to bring down Palin, a REAL REFORMER, was disgusting.
    The constant argument against palin from the media is that she’s dumb (despite the fact that she out debated a 35 year sitting senator in front of 70 million people for 90 minutes when she was just a 2 year governor). They played over and over again the infamous limousine liberal couric interview when Palin responded “everything” to her condescending question “what do you read specifically. That, we were told, proved she was dumb.
    Never mind that biden told couric during his virtually ignored interview, “katie, to be VP one must know what he is talking about- in 1929 roosevelt went on tv to calm the country down”. If Palin had said that, or 1/10 of the other moronic things biden was allowed to get away with, the media would have forced her off of the ticket.But thanks to a corrupt media, most Americans have no idea of anything dumb biden or obummer have ever said (and there is plenty of material out there!).
    It’s obvious that saul alinksy’s tactics were used against Palin from the moment she was chosen “Pick a target- freeze it and polarize it”. His playbook “Rules for Radicals” was obama’s bible for much of his early life. There was a reason that the left dispatched an army of brownshirts to AK after the election in 08 to exploit an ethics law which would ultimately bankrupt Palin. They knew the threat she posed to their guy, so they had to find a way to take her down. When she resigned, she had just defeated her 19th lawsuit, with another 20 lined up. The state had racked up almost a million dollars in dealing with these bogus charges, her family $500,000 (for a job that paid her $165,000), her staff thousands of hours and a stalled agenda were also casualties. They tried to bury her up there but instead they freed her up to become the single most influential figure in politics today.

  • Watusie

    “AK’s political landscape is littered with REPUBLICAN bodies because of Palin’s refusal to stand for backroom deals. ”

    Name one. Name one AK politician whose career trajectory was changed becasue of Palin’s brave stance on ethical issues.

    Go on – I’m waiting.

    “They tried to bury her up there but instead they freed her up to become the single most influential figure in politics today.”

    Oh yeah – way influential. She was able to single-handedly get Lisa Murkowski re-elected. Of course, the fact that she did so by endorsing the other guy is a bit awkward….

  • Unsympathetic

    What different skills might these be, precisely?

    No compromise with Democrats on anything, ever? No consideration of the totality of actual people you’re leading but rather merely paying homage to the top 0.5% of wage earners?

    That’s not leadership. That’s the definition of fascism.

  • Carney

    Palin does indeed have verve and did indeed stand up to the corrupt AK establishment. And Obama, no doubt, benefited from his exotic name and background, and associated himself with radical and corrupt elements in Chicago.

    But policy, past, and race aside, which reminds you more of, say, George Washington and Robert E. Lee? Who is not only brighter, but has the more consistently restrained, dignified, calm, and courteous temperament? Who, on the other hand, more consistently mis-speaks, lowers one’s reputation with petty sniping at critics, and has a cringe-inducingly tacky immediate family life that never seems to end with the mortifications?

    As for Romney, one of John McCain’s more palpable hits in the 2008 nomination fight was to contrast “leadership” vs. “management”. Still, for all that, Romney’s clearly the best candidate we have to offer.

  • Watusie

    Carney, I extend to you the same invitation I extended to Dave: Name one AK politician whose career trajectory was changed becasue of Palin’s brave stance on ethical issues.

  • Saladdin

    Wow, when did this become a Palin thread? There are plenty of other threads. Anyway, Romney’s articulation on issues seems entirely dependent upon his current political requirements. This is more problematic than absolutism as we really don’t know where Romney stands on any specific issue.

  • Carney

    Watusie, I presume you already know that Frank Murkowski, while the sitting governor, was crushed by Palin in the primary for re-nomination, in large part due to his notorious insiderism and corruption, and because Palin was seen by the public as an honest, fresh face due to her tenure at the Energy Commission. So I presume further that your question was not a sincere request for information, but a mere precursor for you to launch into a debunking effort as soon as someone takes your bait. So there you go, have at it. Happy now?

  • Watusie

    No, Carney, it wasn’t a set-up to a debunking demo – it was meant to illustrate that there is absolutely no substance behind this idea that Palin was some sort of ethics-charged crusader who cleaned up Alaska’s politics.

    The challenge was: Name one AK politician whose career trajectory was changed becasue of Palin’s brave stance on ethical issues.

    And if the best you can do is Frank Murkowski, whose was 73 years old and had an approval rating was below 20%, then you’ve made the point for me. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/062006/sta_20060620001.shtml

    Murkowski wasn’t beaten just by Palin – he was also beaten by the other Republican in the race who came in BEHIND Palin.

    Again – where’s that evidence of a brave stance on ethical issues? Taking pot shots at a feeble old pol a few decades past his sell-by date who was already so hated by the electorate that he would have lost to a corpse ain’t it.