Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Spreadsheet President

It was implicit in Joe Biden's speech, I think, but he didn't quite flesh it out. As he spoke about Obama's decisions regarding the auto bailout, and getting bin Laden, comparing them to Romney's statements about them, it occurred to me, and I wish they'd pick it up and make it explicit:

Mitt Romney looks at all decisions the way he did at Bain: coldly, numerically. Adding up numbers. Profit. Not in human terms, not with concern for the people involved or human implications beyond the bottom line. Romney said getting bin Laden wasn't worth the money; the psychological didn't even occur to him. Same with the auto rescue. His argument was about dollars and cents, private equity, yada yada yada. Not about compassion, or what the industry means to the American psyche, to the world's: not concerned that it's what made America an economic force, became the envy of the world, the loss of which would have impact beyond the numbers. To Mitt, that kind of thing doesn't enter in the equation: the only thing that does enter into the equation
is the equation. Spreadsheets.

I think a president has to be able to see beyond that, don't you? And the more I think about it, the more I realize it's simply not who Mitt Romney is, nor ever has been. Nor would be as president. He puts his finger in the wind, but he doesn't touch people.

The spreadsheet president. The Bain Capital president: making decisions that a computer could make (well, if you can find a computer that's a little short on arithmetic). It's not about people, it's about numbers and columns and graphs. And cash flow, in the upward direction, to people like him. Romney's a guy whose business experience has nothing to do with how America works, only about how to take other people's money and turn it into personal profit. Humanity is irrelevant; it's not a business plan.

The spreadsheet president. Probably too late to make it a campaign theme, but it'd be a good one. Because, based on everything we see of Mitt Romney -- his forced laughs, his discomfort with regular people, his cold business calculations -- it's who he is.

[Added: his response to the attacks in Libya and Egypt weren't too savvy (or accurate), either. Scary guy.]

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