I am as guilty as anyone of talking about how both parties suck from the same corporate cock, but yesterday provided an interesting look at the differences between our two major parties – as well as in the parties, especially in the area of the economy.
Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts won the Michigan Republican primary yesterday based mainly on his history as a business man. Michigan has suffered more than any other state in recent years as the auto industry practically collapsed under its own weight, taking all of the support industries (thanks, NAFTA!) with it to the tune of about 300,000 jobs.
They call it a one-state recession as Michigan’s unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, with an increase to more than 8 percent expected in 2008. Because of this, 68 percent of Republican primary voters described the economy as “Not so good / poor” and 55 percent listed the economy as their number one issue in this fall’s election.
Romney’s victory over McCain is generally attributed to the former’s success as a venture capitalist who made his money turning around failing corporations. Romney has pledged to do the same thing for the US economy. Whether he can is a matter for a different day, but that’s the pitch.
For the record, Hillary Clinton received 55 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary that does not count toward the nomination and did not include Barack Obama or John Edwards. One would think she’d have done better considering she was the only candidate in the race…
Meanwhile, in non-Michigan news, Barack Obama admitted in an interview with the Reno Gazette Journal he would be not be a good
chief operating officer:
“But I’m not an operating officer. Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that’s not my job. My job is to set a vision of ‘here’s where the bureaucracy needs to go.'”
In the Democratic debate last night, Hillary Clinton, who has absolutely no business experience herself, challenged Obama on that statement and, drawing from the Bush 2000 playbook (and not for the last time in the debate), compared the presidency to being CEO of a major corporation and then compared Obama’s statements to Bush:
“I think you have to be able to manage and run the bureaucracy,” she said. “You’ve got to pick good people, certainly, but you have to hold them accountable every single day. We’ve seen the results of a president who, frankly, failed at that.
“You know, he went into office saying he was going to have the kind of Harvard Business School CEO model where he’d set the tone, he’d set the goals and then everybody else would have to implement it.”
Obama countered, rather effectively, that Bush does not listen to people who have differing ideologies or bring people together, where he would differ.
But once again, it raises the question about the role of president. Eight years ago, we elected a CEO and, like most CEOs of major companies in the past 10 years or so, he ran the country into the ground, making sure he and his buddies got rich off the whole deal.
Granted we elected a miserable failure of a CEO who ran several companies and a baseball team into the ground, but still…
So the question remains, should a president be able to run the government like a business or can we admit that the role of government is not to make money and we need someone with vision to aim the bureaucracy in the right direction?
The question I most want answered by any of the candidates on either side is what they believe the role of the president is and how they would best fill that role. Truly, this is the debate we need in order to pick the next leader as it is in the philosophy and role of president that the candidates most differ.
But I am still waiting.