Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bringing Integrity to the White House...Not!

Slate: The CEO candidate
For Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the transition from moderate, gay-friendly, abortion-tolerating Massachusetts governor to a certified social conservative isn't going smoothly. YouTube and Google have exposed Romney's shifting policy positions and relatively recent history of liberal behavior. In 1992, he voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the presidential primary. In a 1994 debate, he promised to be better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy and spoke movingly about why abortion should be safe and legal. Today? He's hyperpartisan, pro-life, and hostile to gay marriage. Last year, he worked with Democrats to enact universal health care in Massachusetts. Today, his campaign Web site's health-care page doesn't even mention it.

Romney's flip-flops have been aggravated by his clumsy responses. Disavowing his remarks in the 1994 Kennedy debate, he said: "Of course, I was wrong on some issues back then. I think most of us learn with experience." Yes, as an unformed man of 47, this CEO, father, and multimillionaire was in the thrall of foolish, immature ideas.

It's easy to conclude that Romney lacks core principles and will say or do anything to get elected. But I think there's something deeper at work. Romney's behavior—and the fact that he doesn't think his obvious flip-flopping should arouse suspicions—suggests that he may be the first real CEO/MBA candidate. Sure, President George W. Bush is the first president to have an MBA, and he made noises about running the country like a company. (Insert Enron joke here.) But in contrast to Bush, Romney was a real businessman before getting into politics......

So, how are Romney's flip-flops and business success connected? People suspect, perhaps correctly, that Romney really doesn't believe all the things he's saying. His wife, Anne, has multiple sclerosis, yet he's opposed to embryonic stem-cell research. If an MS treatment derived from embryonic stem cells were to be developed overseas, it's a pretty sure bet that Romney would use his influence and funds to get that treatment for his spouse.

But such hypocrisy, which turns off voters, is something like a job requirement for CEOs. In the executive suite, abandoning deeply held attitudes and reversing positions are job requirements.....

Just what we need in the oval office, someone who'd sell his own mother to get ahead. Competent but mendacious is only a 50% improvement in the status quo The article made me think of the delicious moment in 1632 (an incredibly fun book) when a CEO gets smacked down in his attempt to take power in the accidental nation:

Mike gave Simpson a glance, lingering on it long enough to make the gesture public. "We haven't even got started, and already this guy is talking about downsizing."

The gymnasium was rocked with a sudden, explosive burst of laughter. Humor at Mike's jest was underlain by anger. The crowd was made up, in its big majority, of working class people who had their own opinion of "downsizing." An opinion which, unlike the term itself, was rarely spoken in euphemisms.

.......He heard Darryl's voice, somewhere in the crowd. "Tell 'em, Mike!" Then, next to him, Harry Lefferts: "Shoot the CEO!"

Another laugh rippled through the gym. Harsher, less humorous. The title Chief Executive Officer, for most of that blue-collar crowd, vied in popularity and esteem with Prince of Darkness. The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, rolled into one, wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and holding a pink slip in his hand.

Sorry. No room in the Ark for you. Nothing personal. You're just useless in today's wonderful global economy.

Though I have to admit it'd be delicious to pull the lever to give a CEO a pink slip.

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