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Would Mitt Romney’s “Competence” Really Fix Washington?

The Washington  Post’s Michael Gerson offers measured praise to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign and its all-but-inevitable march to the 2012  presidential nomination.

Gerson concludes this way:

Like Dwight Eisenhower,  Romney is a man of vague  ideology and deep values. In political matters, he is  empirical and  pragmatic. He studies problems, assesses risks, calculates likely   outcomes. Those expecting Romney to be a philosophic leader will be   disappointed. He is a management consultant, and a good one.

Has the moment of the management consultant arrived in American  politics? In  our desperate drought of public competence, Romney has a  strong case to  make.

I’m not sure how Romney Competence is supposed to work in practice.

For starters, the basic instinct of conservative economic policy is  that  government should stay out of the way and let the Bain Capitals  of the world  work their creative-destructive magic. It seems to me you  don’t need to have  run Bain Capital in order to, as president, stay out  of its way.

Maybe that’s too snarky.

Okay, then. Let’s agree that it’s  not former Gov. Romney’s specific  expertise as a business consultant that’s needed in  Washington. What we  need in a president, more generally, is someone with  deeply-rooted  experience as a manager or executive.

Fine.

If we’re talking about the  day-to-day demands of running the government—a big, formidable, complex job—I  agree.

But let’s picture President Romney,  with his deep management  experience, his love of data, his (as Gerson puts it)  belief that the  “real task of governing” is “making systems work.” Let’s  picture  management-systems-loving President Romney negotiating with Congress. I   want to know how, exactly, does Romney Competence deal with a “system”  that’s  riven by ideology? How does he make that one “work”?

When it comes to budgeting and  fiscal reform, there’s no lack of number-crunches and data-lovers in  Washington.

Occasionally, some of them even  formulate actual proposals for lawmakers’ consideration.

Why, the current president of the  United States established a commission to come up with a plan to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability!

What came of it?

Nothing.

Was it a lack of competence that  explains why  President Obama let the Bowles-Simpson plan twist in the wind? And why the  debt-ceiling and “supercommittee” negotiations tanked so ignominiously?

When Tea Partyers refuse any increases in government revenue—even  if they’re generated via code  simplification rather than individual  rate hikes, and even when they’re  accompanied by entitlement   reform—are they incompetent?

Is it so-called competence that divides  Republican Sen. Tom Coburn from Americans for Tax Reform activist Grover  Norquist?

Or is it something else? (Hint: it  begins with an “i” and ends with a “y”.)

I genuinely want to know what  difference it would make to have Mitt  Romney, rather than one of his rivals, in  the room with Coburn and  Norquist.

Is it competence that’s urgently  needed—or courage?

Which occasions the question I’ve  been asking all along: When has Mitt Romney ever displayed political courage?

 

By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, January 10, 2012

January 11, 2012 - Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , ,

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