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Opinion

Opinion

Romney reveals little about himself

August 5, 2012

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He has run for the Senate, for governor and, twice, for president. He has given more campaign speeches in high-visibility circumstances than almost anyone in the country. And still, after 18 years on public rostrums and in the public eye, he remains the most mysterious figure on the American scene.

On the surface, he may seem the least likely politician of the age to be regarded as mysterious at all — but the plain talking, seldom excitable and rarely exciting Mitt Romney, who has been speaking four or five times a day for more than a year, has revealed almost nothing about himself and his views.

Indeed, Romney is, as Franz Liszt said of Frederic Chopin, “prepared to give anything, but never gave himself.”

America has had political figures with a mania for privacy before; Calvin Coolidge gave up little about himself, and the two President Bushes were so reluctant to share their personal thoughts they disparaged even the idea of introspection, saying they didn’t want to sit in a psychiatrist’s chair.

Not all privacy-preserving politicians are Republicans; both former Vice President Walter F. Mondale and former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts failed to win the White House in part because they didn’t share the warm, engaging sides most voters still don’t believe they possess.

Man of the future?

But seldom has a major American political figure so hidden both himself and his own ideas as Romney, who, like most politicians, prides himself as a man of the future rather than the past and, like almost all successful leaders, argues he is not a prisoner of the past. He is not, as John Maynard Keynes might say, the slave of “some long-dead economist” — not that Romney himself would be caught dead quoting Keynes.

Political polls have shown remarkably little movement in recent months, with President Barack Obama holding a steady but slim lead over Romney. While it is impossible to isolate a single reason why a business-oriented Republican has failed to overtake a regulation-oriented Democrat at a time of stubborn economic distress, it remains remarkable that Romney has proffered so few new ideas of his own.

This is not to say that Romney is running an empty, media-oriented campaign. He has plenty to say, about economics, gay marriage and, after his overseas trip, about national security and diplomatic matters.

But except perhaps for his China policy, his proposals, dutiful and detailed, are more derivative than innovative or original. They are a quilt of notions about the size of government that can be traced to Ronald Reagan; views about social issues with strong roots in religious conservatism; assertions of American exceptionalism growing out of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party; and expressions of impatience with the status quo ripped from the labels of the tea bags on the muscular right of the conservative movement.

Everyone’s not an original

Not all American politicians are American originals, of course. Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt had very few ideas when he ran for president in 1932, and even from this distance it is difficult to distill a consistent ethic from the New Deal except for the determination to do something, and then to do something else, until something worked or until the Supreme Court struck it down.

Only in the White House did Lyndon B. Johnson, a conventional New Dealer but mostly a wheeler-dealer, make the full transformation from Senate institutionalist to presidential idealist.

But some candidates, like Sen. Gary Hart (1984 and 1988) and Rep. Jack F. Kemp (1988), are founts of new ideas. Sen. John F. Kennedy (1960) and former Gov. Reagan (1976, 1980 and 1984) ran on very big ideas, with oversized rhetoric to match — rhetoric that, in both cases, stirs Americans still.

Wizardly manager

For his part, Romney is running as an exceptionally gifted, almost wizardly manager armed with conventional conservative ideas, though Americans rarely elect managers, who in folklore, if not in reality, often have the political sex appeal of accountants. The only exception may be Herbert Hoover, one of the great business figures of his age and perhaps the leading manager in political history.

What is significant here isn’t that Hoover presided over the Great Depression — his role in that is still debated — but that Hoover’s business experience and acumen, and the air of management competence that he cultivated and personified, gave him 444 electoral votes in his battle against a breakthrough candidate much like Obama, Gov. Al Smith of New York, the first Catholic to win the presidential nomination of a major American political party.

Other presidential candidates who have run as managers have failed, making little impact in electoral politics. These include Donald Rumsfeld, who as the recent former chief of G.D. Searle and Co., ran for president briefly in 1988, and Lee Iacocca, who held top positions at both Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Corp., and also toyed with running for president. Both said they would have emphasized bringing business values to government, which sounds better in the executive suite than on the campaign hustings.

(A business approach was not part of the electioneering appeal of Gov. George W. Bush, who became the first president with an M.B.A. He ran on his record of partisan conciliation in Texas, his concept of “compassionate conservatism” and his own brand of Western-style politics.)

In his 1988 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Dukakis made a memorable remark:

“This election isn’t about ideology; it’s about competence. It’s not about meaningless labels; it’s about American values — old-fashioned values like accountability and responsibility and respect for the truth.”

Romney could say almost all of that except for the ideology part, for he has drawn an ideological contrast with the president even without original ideas.

It’s still early

It is, however, relatively early in the campaign. Romney’s formal nomination is still weeks away. His acceptance speech has not yet been written. Both the phrases “New Deal” (from FDR) and “New Frontier” (from Kennedy) appeared in their convention acceptance speeches.

When Robert Frost went to visit the White House in 1958, he presented President Dwight D. Eisenhower a volume of his poems, and on the flyleaf he wrote: “The strong are saying nothing until they see.” Perhaps that applies to Romney, and perhaps for the former Massachusetts governor the road not taken lies ahead.

— David M. Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Comments

FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

Speaking of "secrets",

TPP secrets: Obama covertly granting more power to multinational corporations

Published: 13 June, 2012, 20:20 Edited: 14 June, 2012, 01:15

Despite the White House’s efforts to keep a proposed free trade agreement concealed from the public — and even Congress — an excerpt from the TPP leaked Wednesday reveals that President Obama is prepared to bow to multinational corporations.

Where's merrill!? He 'must' see this! Flex is "bowing" to his cronies again?

http://rt.com/usa/news/tpp-obama-corporations-trade-725/

Take me to your Brotherhood Leader

Take me to your Brotherhood Leader by FalseHopeNoChange

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/obama’s-college-classmate-the-obama-scandal-is-at-columbia/

This wouldn't surprise me.

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tbaker 1 year, 8 months ago

All Mr. Romney has to do is say he’ll gladly release all his tax returns if Mr. Obama un-seals his college records from Columbia. If he did that, you wouldn’t hear another peep out of the Obama Campaign concerning Mr. Romney’s taxes because there is a good reason why Mr. Obama has gone to so much trouble to keep those college records sealed. There is information in those records that would be very damaging to him.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

Somebody unearthed one of Romney's high school report cards recently. That means we now know more about his academic career than the Mope's.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

I just 'heard' Willard had a job 'at' one time and 'hired' people to actually work for him. Then I heard he was a governor. I also heard through a 'grape' vine that he wasn't a 'pothead' and never had a made up "composite" girlfriend to boast about. In fact, I think he might have even been called the 'first' gay of something or another.

He even has 'transcripts' from college. What a Poser.

What a loser.

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Crazy_Larry 1 year, 8 months ago

It is a fact that Mitt Romney is as crooked as a dog's hind leg. We should all forget about Romney and the Republicrats. And do the same with Obama and the Democans! Move forward!

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney has better hair then Obama

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

In pot and kettle news: "Despite his pledge to preside over the most open and transparent administration in history, Barack Obama has been insulating himself from the press of late, according to Keith Koffler at White House Dossier. Writes Koffler: The last substantive question Obama took from a White House reporter was during a June 20 press conference following the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Obama allowed only six questions during the event, which was nearly guaranteed to keep him out of political hot water as the focus was on foreign policy. Since then, Obama has held no press conferences, given no interviews to White House reporters, and taken no questions at the White House events he has held where reporters have been present..." http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/08/06/obama-has-not-taken-a-question-from-the-press-in-more-than-two-months/

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Machiavelli_mania 1 year, 8 months ago

I still think that presidential candidate should have independent psychological evaluations that are then published for the public. I think this year, Ron Paul, Obama and Romney would pass.

I know Bush would NOT have passed it. He was taking anti-psychotics while he was sitting in the Oval Office.

And we sure did get his result in treating this country like a business. Do you like the present economy?

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Machiavelli_mania 1 year, 8 months ago

For the last two decades I have voted Democrat. in 2000, I wanted to vote for McCain, and didn't get the chance. In 2008, he was not the same man I saw in 2000.

In 2008, I most reluctantly vooted for Obama. He will never get my vote again. ( started to correct the speling, but you know, that is how I feel about having voted for Obama, so I am going to leave it.)

I could vote for a GOP presidential candidate this year. I have always admired Romney. The vote hangs on his VP decision. Please no more stupid people like Palin as a VP. She was just too stupid.

I am a moderate. No party can count on my vote. Neither party has been faithful to me, so I am not faithful to a party.

Am writing in Ron Paul, most likely..

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Agnostick 1 year, 8 months ago

BornAgainAmerican Aug. 6, 2012, @ 09:45

"Apparently, the Left has become petty and delusional as demonstrated by their inane posts in this particular forum. Tactics like these will only result in a landslide victory for Romney in November. But hey, what else do you have when your man has such a terrible record?"


Noted!

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Lateralis 1 year, 8 months ago

Here are a few other secrets Mitt has, that to this day are irrefutable, undeniable, and 100% accurate.

A few quotes from Mitt that stand in direct violation to what the GOP says they reject. The links are video in context.

Universal Health Care: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBFQKx...

“…was able to put in place a plan that helped get health insurance premiums down, and gets all of our citizens insured. If we can do that nationally, we help…the entire nation” – Mitt - 2008

Abortion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeQGOb... at the 20 second mark.

“I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country, I have since the time my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US senate candidate. I believe that since Roe vs. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it.” Mitt - 1994

Goading the Government for Money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f61My9... “I believe in getting money where the money is and the money is in Washington. I believe if you have people that understand how Washington works and have personal associations there, you can get money to help build economic development opportunities and I want to go after every grant, every project, every department in Washington to assure that we’re taking advantage of every economic development opportunity.” At the 15 second mark.

This guy is a rat. He’s a liar and as Santorum said, “the worst Republican to run against President Obama.” but Rick somehow has the audacity to endorse Mitt? The Republican party has this illusion that Mitt can win. Mitt is everything he isn’t supposed to be and the Republicans have somehow convinced themselves that he’s conservative. What a Joke.

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grammaddy 1 year, 8 months ago

I know one thing about Romney- he'll never be elected to the Presidency.

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Roland Gunslinger 1 year, 8 months ago

I personally like that Romney knows what it's like to be impoverished. Remember he spent 30 months in France on a mission trip to avoid military service.

Oh, here's the squalor he had to live in while on his mission trip. "...the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace”. "

"It featured stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection. It was staffed by two servants – a Spanish chef and a houseboy."

"It is currently worth as much as $12 million"

"The building had beautiful gilded interiors, a magnificent staircase in cast iron, and an immense hall."

't was “well equipped” with all modern conveniences, including a combination washer-dryer machine,"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/8959440/US-election-2012-Mitt-Romneys-life-as-a-poor-Mormon-missionary-in-France-questioned.html

Yup- he really knows what it's like to be poor.

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camper 1 year, 8 months ago

Legal or illegal is probably interpreted or the opinion of the accountants and IRS at that given time..... when you have a return as complex as his. I'm sure he was probably "aggressive" with his deductions, but that was his choice. He had a lot of eyeballs on hi sreturn before he submitted them.

The problem with venture capital companies is that they often bring in or select their management. I have seen that they often do not understand the day to day operations of the business and this often is very distruptive. Especially when they outsource departments to the Phillipines or India for instance. There is a communication barrier that becomes crippling. I have seen this happen, and am not particularly fond of companies like Bain.

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney hasn't been arrested or even charged with tax evasion! Why is everyone convinced something is wrong???? If he was doing something illegal it would have come up. I'd bet money he's been audited almost every year since he's been in politics and definitely the last 4 since obamanomics has been around. Give it up people! Is that all you got lefties?

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

It is interesting that Romney will not release his tax returns. It just fuels speculation that he is hiding something. Best to end all speculation.

Then again, John McCain has seen his tax returns and did not choose him, calling Palin "a better candidate".

Yikes. Maybe Romney is correct in not releasing them after all.

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

Funny how Obama's taxes have never been called into play... Oh yes, he's never had a job before being president. So I guess he never paid taxes for the decade before his presidency..

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beatrice 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney is a devout Mormon. Mormons do not believe in gambling. They state: "The Mormon Church has always opposed gambling in every form, including government-sponsored lotteries. Mormon prophets and leaders have counseled the members over time, to avoid gambling of any type. Doing so, leads one away from righteousness and into the hands of Satan." http://whatmormonsbelieve.org/mormons_gambling.html

One of Romney's largest supporters is the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Romney has not rejected this money that was gained from unrighteousness and the hands of Satan. Romney is not a man of conviction, otherwise, he would reject Adelson's money.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney is banking on attacks against Obama, so that he doesn't need to put any ideas out there.

This is because his only economic ideas are what got us into the recession in the first place: tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and increases in defense spending. He says he wants spending cuts, but will not specify what he would cut.

Romney's tactic is to attack Obama relentlessly and avoid putting any of his own ideas and solutions forward, because they have been demonstrable failures in the recent past.

1

Mixolydian 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney legally mimimizes his tax liability. So what, we all do, at least those of us fortunate enough to have a job in this dismal environment. Romney handles his money well. Without a doubt, Obama hasn't handled our money well at all. He put us 6 trillion dollars more in debt, ruined our credit rating, kept us unemployed and discouraged. I trust Romney to handle our money more than Obama. That's what it all comes down to this election, the economy and fiscal policy.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 8 months ago

tommie.....keep talking that nonsense.......who knows.....the hope and change would've occured if the tpers and the gop hadn't of thrown a tantrum in the middle of the street and vowed to obstruct until removed.......looked at the rcp polls this morning tommie..... not looking too good for you falsietommie......repeal and replace tommie.....with what tommie? obstruction down stranger creek tommie......

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 8 months ago

I find it amusing that when daddy George ran for President no one cared he was born in Mexico and only an American citizen by the grace of having American parents. Wonder what the birthers would say about that now?

3

FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

Flex is perfect 'for' New America. The 52% with "no skin in the game" need his "hope and change." They need his "Greenbackerism".

What more does one need 'to' know about the "Choom Gang" Leader?

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grammaddy 1 year, 8 months ago

Thanks touschkahouma. Most of Obama's info has been out since at least 1995, if anyone really cared to look.Romney,not so much.And the fact that you can't get a straight answer out of him bothers me. "conviction of silly putty"--GOOD ONE!!

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Mike Ford 1 year, 8 months ago

Barack Obama... Born in Hawaii, raised in Indonesia, went to college at Occidental in California and Harvard in Massachusetts, worked in Chicago to help ignored people try to rise above circumstances, ran against Bobby Rush in Chicago, won locally then nationally, did the convention speech in 2004 and ran for president in 2008. His campaign got it's legs in Iowa against Hillary Clinton in the primaries. His Dunham ancestry in from the Carolinas. His recent ancestors lived in Ark City, El Dorado, and Topeka, and contributed to the WW II effort. They were White and Cherokee. My Dunnam ancestors from the Carolinas also claimed Native ancestry with different name spelling.

What do I know about Romney? his ancestors were Morman polygamists and left to Mexico when polygamy was prohibited so that the State of Deseret could become the State of Utah in the 1890's. His father George was born in Mexico and came back here. His father ran AMC into the ground to the point that it left Michigan and went to Kenosha, WI, and eventually combined with Renault and ran itself into the ground in 1984 or 1985. His father was a governor of Michigan. Both father and son were blandlicans kind of like the 1920's GOP or Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Mitt was a Morman missionary in France of all places and was involved in a horrible car accident where people died in a mountainous part of France and he was injured. He worked for Bain Capitol which sounds like the corporate raiding Michael Milken company crashing junk bond people of my 1980's adolescence. He was behind Romneycare being the plyable blandlican that the crazies in the GOP and Tea Party fear as a governor of Massachusetts. The Olympics in Salt Lake City tried to railroad through wetlands issues for the Railway system there for the Olympics which drew one of the original SLT attornies Bruce Plenk to Utah if I remember correctly. It they want a politician with the conviction of silly putty Mitt's your man. By the way Roedapple.......no wikipedia used here....just lots of reading, listening, and learning on my own.

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weeslicket 1 year, 8 months ago

  1. regarding the statements that "we really didn't know anything about president obama" before he was elected is, imo, sheep-dip.
    example 1: the long running primary debates between barak obama and hillary clinton provided more and greater clarity about both candidates. which was really, quite remarkable in politics. then again, i actually watch the debates (both R and D and presidential) and the newshour, and not fox entertainment. example 2: barak's speech on race (march of '08, if i remember correctly) was the single most remarkable (courageous) statement of political "introspection" i have ever listened to.
  2. while mitt romney is long on generalities and short on specifics, i am not entirely persuaded that this means i "do not know who he is". i have come to the conclusion that this IS the real mitt romney. and, unfortunately for him, he will have to keep up this persona for fear of alienating (further enraging?) the conservatives and uber-conservatives in his base. iow: he's kind of stuck with his current version of mitt romney until after the elections. 2a. likewise the problem with releasing his tax information. it's a real distraction now, and it will continue to get more problematic for him; AND he does not have a convincing answer to the public for that problem right now. (authenticity is not a strength for mr. romney.) on the other hand, if his tax information does become public, i would expect an even more enormous problem for him. republican leaders had urged mr. romney to release his tax info earlier rather than later, but he would not do that. makes one wonder, doesn't it? anyway, we wait and see on the tax info question. (how close is The Onion to getting this one right??)
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woodscolt 1 year, 8 months ago

Using fantasy sites for facts. It is amusing.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Time to cut spending on national political convention = they accomplish little and cost too damn much money.

Perfect example of unlimited spending increasing the cost of living...

Ah, it’s August – time for the presidential nominating conventions!

This grand testimonial of our citizens’ rights and liberties will begin with the Republicans in Tampa. Flags are being mounted, majestic music is being arranged, uplifting speeches are being scripted – and, as has now become normal for these spectacles of democracy-in-action, heavily-armed police repression of our cherished First Amendment rights is being ordered.

Of course, the delegates, candidates, lobbyists, and billionaire funders inside the GOP’s convention bunker will be perfectly free (as they should be) to gild the promises and lies that will frame their presidential campaign.

They will not be bothered by the 4,000 riot-geared police that authorities will deploy around Tampa.

However, any outsider citizens who come to practice the hallowed freedoms of public assembly and speech at the convention will be welcomed by a thoroughly un-American police state.

In May, at the behest of national Republican officials, Tampa’s mayor and council passed a temporary ordinance to suspend our First Amendment and authorize a crackdown on protesters. Warning ominously that a few vandals might get out of control, the ordinance tries to force all citizen demonstrators into a few restricted parade routes and what amounts to “protest pens.”

Preemptive detainments, indiscriminate mass arrests, and police infiltrations of peaceful protest groups can be expected. Ironically, that’s the kind of autocratic excess that led to the American Revolution itself.

The city’s top lawyer recently barked that, “troublemakers… will not be tolerated.” But the real troublemakers are those inside the hall – and inside a police system that’s being used to stomp on the very freedoms that America is supposed to embrace and encourage. What's coming down in Tampa this month is not what Madison, Jefferson, and the others meant by liberty.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

You know, I looked at the above link - it's very informative, and I recommend others look at it as well.

I find the vast majority of his voting record to be admirable, and in line with my own views and values.

There are a few exceptions, of course.

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2_scoops_of_stupid 1 year, 8 months ago

And the real mind-blower is that all the left can do is play the deflection game. They can not say anything positive about Obama, so they hammer away at Romney---and his wife---and even his dead father is dragged into the discussion.

“His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son." -Harry Reid

What a miserable old fart.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 8 months ago

If you want to know what Romney is about, look at how he voted as governor of Massachusetts. If you want to know what Obama stands for, look at how he voted as President. Stop listening to spin doctors from both camps and look at the facts.

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2_scoops_of_stupid 1 year, 8 months ago

The lamestream media dug through Palin's bacjkground like a terrier after a mole. Obama? Notsamuch. As I said, it was enough that he was black and of course a far-left liberal Democrat. The shady background? Meh, who cares, correct, far-left wing zealots?

Anyone who goes and votes for this extraordinary loser of a president must have some marbles rolling around in their head. Anything but a Republican, right? Then these same will say Republicans are strict partisan hacks. Joke.

1

tange 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney? Pretty transparent if you ask me.

/ not that any light passes through him

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 8 months ago

Remember for years the Repubs cried about Obama not producing a birth certificate? Now the Demos want to cry about Romney only producing the last two years of tax returns. Pull your heads out and look at the real issues you idiots.

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, he can reveal an irrefutable birth certificate.... He has also actually held a job in his life. Not a product of the system. He also says more then hope and change at every speech. I remember when Obama was running all I knew was that he was not George Bush and he kept saying "hope and change", that's all he did to get elected. Despite all of his radical buddies and his lack of experience and the cloud of his birth origin, he was not George Bush. Well, this time Bush is not in the picture and for the first time In his career he actually has to run on his record..... No doubt Axlerod is in the back room writing up some fake domestic abuse documents on the Romneys that will get sprung out around October 1st. That's happened in every election Obama has ever been in. I actually don't mind Obama but he surrounds himself with some real sketch balls.

Romney 2012, he will get America back on budget and get people back to work. Maybe people on food stamps can get back to providing for their families on their own. Government assistance has doubled over the last 4 years, that's a good statistic to have on your resume.. Even Obama supporters know this has been a failure.

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BornAgainAmerican 1 year, 8 months ago

How much did we know about Obama before he was elected POTUS? Hope and change was about all he offered with very little explanation of what he meant by that. The few things that were revealed never happened. His medical records and academic records remain sealed to this day. What is he hiding?

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

I think I would avoid using "wizard" as a metaphor for Romney. I think more accurate would be terms such as "lucky", "offshoring" and "tax shelters".

But the Romney method for creating wealth only worked if you had assetts you could liquidate and technology you could transfer. When America still had an industrial base that you could sell on the cheap and industries that you could exploit by manufacturing product in China and then showing up at the next trade show and killing your competition.

That way of doing business where you send thousands of workers home and ship all the fixtures and know how to a foreign country has a limit and it is measured eventually by the size of our trade deficit and the trillions of dollards in off shore accounts.

3

Milton Bland 1 year, 8 months ago

Wow, what a piece of biased trash!
We know ten times more about Romney than we do about Obama, even after Obama has been in the white house almost four years. Is it because Obama is black, and Romney white? Or maybe it is because the liberal press does not one to attack one of its own.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Actually, Bain Capital's MO involved taking such large fees from corporate dividends that they often drove previously successful companies into bankruptcy.

It's not an example of capitalism at it's best, but rather at it's worst, in my view.

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

Business school trained managers are, in my opinion, greatly oversold and immensely overpaid.

I am constantly reading stories about how much money they get paid to become CEOs and then how much money they get paid to leave after they screw up the company.

In the same sense, I have to assume that much of the management "wizardry" that is attributed to Romney is mythological at this point and this is a guy that I used to admire.

5

Paul R Getto 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting. It will be interesting to see what else becomes known about Mr. Romney, and if anyone cares.

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