A Statement Worth Debating

Now that the second round of presidential debates is over, I’ve been revisiting last week’s Biden-Ryan debate because something Ryan said bothered me and it’s still unresolved. While watching the Vice Presidential debates, and trying not to get too irritated with stream of nonsense coming from Paul Ryan’s verbose answers, there was one thing Ryan said more than once that stuck out to me: “Mitt Romney is uniquely qualified to be President”.

My answers are as clear as the image you see behind me!

That’s interesting. Was he trying to kill precious debate time by stalling us on this kind of matter, rather than answering moderator Raddatz’s questions directly? Or was he trying to be legitimate and, if so, what does make Romney unique for the position of president?

Of course we weren’t given concrete examples and are left to our own speculation. We’re left to wonder: could it be Romney’s moral foundations? His financial backers? Or maybe his business experience?

Religion, the perennial favorite of the Republican resume, initially seemed a contentious factor for the Romney camp during the primary race. However, his Mormonism, and the far-right voting bloc’s perception of it, became more of an afterthought.

How open minded of them.

And while Romney might point out that his faith is his guiding principle, and that it made him who he is, does it make him unique as a candidate?

No.

Going strictly on the basis of Mormonism, not just Christianity, he is not even unique in his desired post as president of the United States. The founder of his religion and its prophet, Joseph Smith, ran for the same office in 1844. Although Smith was killed by an angry mob and was unable to make it to Election Day (and Romney remains unscathed), it would not have been the first time our country has been introduced to this style of Christianity and asked to consider such a follower worthy of the office.

Perhaps we should consider his financial resources? Maybe the people and the organizations that find Romney worthy of the oval office are unique to his campaign, or unique to the Republican Party as a whole. A quick review of Romney’s top contributors for the 2012 presidential campaign reveal nothing particularly special. To consider PACs alone, there are eight groups that contributed to both Romney 2012 and Bush 2004:

  • Goldman Sachs
  • Bank of America
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Credit Suisse
  • Citigroup
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • UBS AG
  • Ernst and Young

The only thing vaguely interesting about this list of contributors is the fact that none of them contributed to the Obama 2012 campaign.

Ah, and then we come to Romney’s business experience. His pride, his most valuable credential, and if all else fails, the one thing he hopes will persuade voters to like him. There is experience, but does it in fact make him uniquely qualified to be elected president? The shining spot in his sterling business career is Bain Capital, the company he co-founded in 1984. Romney stakes the bulk of his credibility as a business leader on his time at Bain. However, looking at Bain and its pet projects, his business foundation crumbles away underfoot. Take GST Steel for example: approaching the company as an outsider, like “a high school kid…in awe”, he overtook the company’s original framework and “improved” things by shutting the entire factory down in under ten years, leaving the steel workers without medical benefits or severance pay. After filing for bankruptcy, Bain was able to reap at least $8.5 million in profits from the move. A story not so unique from the business adventures of a former president.

As a voter, I would be delighted to know what Paul Ryan meant when he claimed that Mitt Romney was uniquely qualified as a presidential candidate. But as a voter, I can’t find anything apparent. It’s likely just another pretty but unsubstantiated claim.

 

 

_________

Original image source: David McElroy