Mitt Romney: International Man of Private Equity

Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite writers.  He is generally called a “liberal”, though in my opinion that word does not give a very good idea of either his views or his style.  “Jacobin” is perhaps the best word, though it is a pejorative which suggests he means some sort of violent revolution.  I don’t think he does, but his writing is very angry and his ideas very radical for the modern Democratic party.

Anyway, Taibbi wrote an article for Rolling Stone about Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.  It is not a bad article, though Taibbi is more of a polemicist than a journalist, and so he tends to cast all of Romney’s actions in the worst possible light.  He also makes a few questionable assertions, such as:

If you haven’t heard much about how takeover deals like Dunkin’ and KB Toys work, that’s because Mitt Romney and his private equity brethren don’t want you to. The new owners of American industry are the polar opposites of the Milton Hersheys and Andrew Carnegies who built this country, commercial titans who longed to leave visible legacies of their accomplishments…

The men of the private equity generation want no such thing. “We try to hide religiously,” explained Steven Feinberg, the CEO of a takeover firm called Cerberus Capital Management that recently drove one of its targets into bankruptcy after saddling it with $2.3 billion in debt.

The first rule of Private equity is “you do not talk about Private Equity”, huh?   If so, then why is Romney running for President, when he must know that his background will be investigated? And if the other private equity people are so anxious to protect their wheelings and dealings, why are they not using their considerable resources to make him drop out?

Taibbi is wrong.  The reason you don’t hear about how Bain Capital works is that it’s too complicated and too boring for the average voter to pay attention to–especially given that when Romney worked there, he was just some rich guy that no one had reason to pay attention to.  Maybe they should have, but they didn’t.  Romney didn’t need to go to a lot of effort to keep his activities secret.

But then, towards the end, Taibbi says something very interesting.  I don’t want to post it all here, but the part beginning “Listen to Mitt Romney speak, and see if you can notice what’s missing…” is where it starts.  Taibbi notes that Romney and Obama both have what he calls a “post-regional attitude”.  If Obama represents the cosmopolitan worldview, then Romney represents international finance… and neither of these views are well-liked by the nationalists, as I have written about many times.  This, in other words, is the key to why Romney struggles among social conservatives.

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