Demonizing Mitt

Never mind that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, a religion more mysterious than the Sith Order of the Force-sensitives. Forget that he may have thought better of a former position or two. That's what the restart button is for.

What really puts a twist in liberal undies is that the man is very wealthy – "loaded," as we Midwesterners say. Wait, it gets worse. Thanks to Democrat(ic) National Committee attack ads, Americans are learning that the Republican candidate for president is a businessman – not a proper heiress, like Tammy Baldwin or John Kerry.

At the very least, couldn't he have been a washout, like failed haberdasher Harry Truman? A bankruptcy on the résumé might have bought him some love on MSNBC. Democrats, the party of victims, need failure like zombies need fresh meat. That's why they promoted Occupy Wall Street. The revolt of the indolent – Maynard G. Krebs with a Twitter account – was their hoped-for counterpoise to the taxpaying Tea Party.

Instead, the trashing Occupiers proved the corollary to FDR's dictum: there can also be malefactors of great poverty.

In mid-July, the economy continuing to tank, President Obama's people suggested their Republican rival should bunk in Bernie Madoff's cell for working at something called "Bain Capital." Capital formation is one of those little-understood forces, like "Hoggs Bosom" (as Ed Garvey once called it), but more nefarious, like "fracking" or "fiscal austerity." Plus, it's probably racist.

If you are a former community organizer responsible for the longest sustained period of high unemployment since the Great Depression, and your opponent knows which end of a spreadsheet is up, you need to draw horns on his portrait.

Among the economically illiterate, creating capital is socially suspect, like binging on Mayor Bloomberg's Super Slurpees. Never mind that "saving and investing," as we used to call it, is how one purchases houses and starts businesses. Bain, for instance, took a small office supply store in Massachusetts and turned it into the Staples office-supply store chain, which employs 90,000 people.

Capital formation is discriminatory because rich people can do it; poor people can't. That's all you need to know to understand the Obama presidency. It explains why Obama wants to hike taxes on "the rich" (or, at least, anyone making over $250,000 a year). He and Nancy Pelosi can make better decisions than the consumer. It explains the Obamacare tax/penalty. (No, it's a breath mint.) It excuses record deficit spending. It promotes fast trains to nowhere as "economic stimulus."

It explains a $3 million advertising campaign to market food stamps as a smart lifestyle choice rather than a trap of government dependency. It explains "the private sector is doing just fine."

JFK's fabulous wealth was central to his Mad Men cool. Sailing off Nantucket. Cuban cigars. Celebs pushed into the pool. But Kennedy never dirtied his hands making money; he inherited it from the old man, who earned it the old-fashioned way: running whiskey, manipulating the stock market, and schtupping actresses.

No one is accusing Mitt of running hooch or hoarding Cohibas, and forget the actresses. (Not Mormon.) The liberal brief against Romney is that his company may have outsourced some jobs and eliminated others. It's the Daddy Warbucks caricature of tycoons rubbing their hands in glee as they send Joe Lunchbucket to the poorhouse. Ain't we got fun!

(Even socialist provocateur John Nichols excused the downsizing of The Capital Times after it ceased daily publication. A primarily online operation didn't need so many employees, he explained.)

Anti-business bias informed a federal law, McCain-Feingold, prohibiting people incorporated as businesses from speaking politics during an election campaign. Even George W. Bush approved that message, demonstrating the inexorable growth of government under both parties.

The truth is that few of our more recent presidents made their bones in the business world. Jimmy Carter, successful peanut farmer; Herbert Hoover, mining executive. Doesn't help that both were less-than-successful presidents. The Founders were wealthy to a man, whether by commerce or agriculture. Plantation owner and whiskey distiller George Washington may have been the most affluent of all the presidents. Even Abe Lincoln prospered as a railroad attorney.

Yes, there are crooks on Wall Street. And in our capitals. "The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse," James Madison warned.

Could we do worse than Barack Obama? Has any president had less exposure to the economic marketplace, been more clueless about wealth creation or more hostile to private enterprise? Hasn't the current occupant been a malefactor of Big Government?

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