Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vulture Capitalism

I'm no fan of Newt Gingrich. But when I read that he was going after Mitt Romney, I was delighted. Mitt "Corporations 'R' People" Romney is a shell of a man. I mean, a hell of a man. He's got a "winning" grin that can make your stomach turn. How so, you might ask? Well, Gingrich's team really says it best in King of Bain, a stunning, quasi-Frontline-style video "ad" funded by the Winning Our Future super PAC. It's a 28-minute hit piece, and a much-needed one at that. The myth of Romney as the "reasonable guy" in the Republican field must end.

The voiceover opens with the line "Capitalism made America great." The film then proceeds to show how Romney has been working tirelessly to destroy it. Depicted are four stories of predatory buyouts perpetrated by Bain Capital, the company for whom Romney was CEO, and the devastation left over for small businesses and families in America. "The suffering began," the voiceover continues, "when Mitt Romney came to town."

How refreshing to see Gingrich engage in the "class warfare" he once decried. Or is it only class warfare when a Democrat takes notice that some people get rich at the expense of other people's livelihoods? In Newt Gingrich's world, the answer is yes. For the moment, however, we can appreciate the fruits of his labors.

screen shot from King of Bain.
Or can we? As of yesterday, Gingrich seems to have done an about-face. As reported at Politico, a questioner at a book signing pushed back against Gingrich's portrayal of Romney. "I want to beg you," said the questioner, "to redirect and go after [Romney's] obvious disingenuousness about his conservatism and lay off the corporatist versus the free market. I think it's nuanced." Dear reader, watch King of Bain and try as best as you can to find the "nuance."

Given this chance to stay on message and reinforce how Romney is a human vulture, Gingrich instead let his wimp flag fly and spouted this nonsense:

I agree with you. It's an impossible theme to talk about with Obama in the background. Obama just makes it impossible to talk rationally in that area because he is so deeply into class warfare that automatically you get into an echo effect. ...I agree with you entirely. [link]

Oh, right. It's Obama's fault. An "echo effect." Gingrich is saying quite explicitly that Obama has the power to force Gingrich to not speak rationally. By doing so, didn't Gingrich just write himself completely off the list of people who could possibly stand up to Obama in a debate, a quality that many a Republican hoped for in Mr. Speaker? Might as well add "evil wizard" to the list of paranoid attacks on Obama's character, such as foreigner, Muslim fifth columnist, fellow traveler of the Weather Underground, or Kenyan anti-colonialist, which is another Newt-generated smear. I guess he really can't be rational when discussing Obama.

But there's little irrationality I have found in King of Bain. Avid Ron Paul supporter "Mauibrad" over at Daily Paul seems to agree, albeit in a convoluted and semi-grammatical way:

Improper use of debt. This is Vulture Capitalism: Using excessive debt to finance the take over of a company that is targeted for intrinsic value, break it up to sell off it's assets and extract the equity goodwill of what was a going concern, and then selling it off, for it to eventually go bankrupt with that new excessive debt. This is not genuine capitalism.... [link]

Whew. If only I had a spare hour to figure out what the hell that all means. Fortunately, Mauibrad cuts to the chase in the next paragraph: "Romney is not worthy of our defense."

There is speculation that Gingrich will complete his apparent about-face and withdraw the video. His campaign denies that. How this plays out is actually making the Republican Party, for now, interesting to watch.

UPDATE 1/13/12: Andrew Sullivan gives a coherent explanation at The Daily Dish today as to just why Romney's capitalism is vulture-like:

Every one of [four major companies taken over by Bain between 1987 and 1995] went bankrupt, with the loss of many, many jobs. The question Romney has to answer is: how is it "capitalism" to make so much money from companies that went bankrupt? It's one thing to be a businessman and make money by building an enterprise. But Romney never managed a business, apart from Bain. He just made a large part of $250 million by investing in companies that went belly-up. [link]
UPDATE 4/24/14: I removed all links to the King of Bain movie in this post because now the URL (kingofbain.com) redirects to an Italian porn site. No thanks. But what will happen when Mitt runs in 2016? (You think he won't? I just saw a new cookbook by Ann Romney displayed at the public library.) Will someone revive King of Bain? Or does FactCheck.org have the last word?

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