Defending Romney’s Role At Bain

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 10 2012 @ 12:24pm

Several readers are doing so:

I am getting somewhat annoyed at this latest meme, whereby Romney is supposedly a bad guy for working for Bain consulting because part of his job was advising companies on how to fire people. Now, granted, Romney doesnt embrace this because he is, time and again, a coward, so he throws math around that implies he was actually helping SAVE jobs. He wasn't. But that's ok – and someone should call out Gingrich for painting Romney as some callous corporate monster when he was, in fact, helping companies succeed in the marketplace. Aren't we mature enough as a country to acknowledge that sometimes companies need to let employees go in order help their bottom line?

Of course Romney advised on how to fire people. Of course he took no joy in it. That was his job and he did it very well. So what?

Another writes:

I have to admit I find where the Romney conversation is going related to his time at Bain is stunning to me. Democrats are actually going to try to make it a negative? And that might work? What country are we in again? I’m not a Romney fan, but if the American people’s understanding of free enterprise is so weak that they turn on him regarding what should be a strength, then we truly are screwed. This WSJ article, which is balanced, should settle the conversation. Money quote:

The Journal analysis shows that in total, Bain produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors in the 77 deals, on about $1.1 billion invested. Overall, Bain recorded roughly 50% to 80% annual gains in this period, which experts said was among the best track records for buyout firms in that era.

Case closed. His job was to produce return on investment for his shareholders. He did that at an incredibly high level in a highly competitive market. Obama had no achievements that were even remotely close to this coming into office. Not even in the same realm. In addition, he is able to produce no similar metrics for his own policies, just anecdotes. Spare the comments about preventing a depression. You always ignore how much better the stimulus could have been had it not been a giveaway to cronies and special interests. The country was behind the stimulus. He chose his political cronies. It didn’t work as well as a result. That’s why I’m mad about it, not that it happened.

There is a lot to attack about Romney. I’m going to vote for Paul in my primary. The irony is that the sheer ignorance about economics and free enterprise that could compel someone to view Romney’s time at Bain as a negative is a key factor for why someone like Paul can’t win. People either lack any real economic knowledge (thank you public education system – where it is almost impossible to fire people, by the way) and/or they are so consumed with populist envy that they dislike anyone who achieves more than they do.


Look, I'm on the far left politically and would be thrilled with any background on Romney that would reflect poorly on him. But I have to say that after going back and reading the Buzzfeed article that you linked to, I can't help but be favorably impressed by Romney's role in this episode. Certainly Bill Bain looks bad, and the decisions by Bain Senior Management seems to have obviously been to enrich themselves at the expense of their junior employees, but Romney was out of the picture a full year before any of this transpired and appears to have actually been an excellent go-between in salvaging a horrible situation to the relative satisfaction of everybody.

Anybody who could actually accomplish something similar between Wall Street and Main Street as the occupier of the Oval Office would rightly be hailed as an extremely effective executive. In fact, of all the apocryphal stories about Mittens, this is the only one that I am personally aware of that tells me that he might actually be a credible president. I think the Dems would be wise to stay clear of this particular episode.