About a week ago, William Kristol suggested that John McCain is in many ways a man of the Victorian era. (Via Erin O’Connor) Comes now Withywindle, of the fine blog Athens & Jerusalem, with the suggestion that–in view of his expressed contempt for economic motivations–McCain is actually an Elizabethan.
In any event, I have growing concerns about McCain’s ability to deal intelligently with the U.S. and world economies. Recently, contrasting his own experience with Romney’s he said: “I did not manage, I led. And I didn’t manage for profit, I led for patriotism.”
The first sentence is a reasonable attempt to contrast his own management/leadership style with that of his rival–although it cuts both ways: running an organization of thousands or millions of people is very different from running a fighter squadron or a small office. But what are we to make of the second sentence? Military service is a highly honorable calling–but are we to believe that it is the only honorable calling?
A capitalist economy clearly requires people who manage for profit. In view of the above comment, the question must be asked: Is McCain a socialist? If he is, he should explain why he thinks this economic system is superior, and offer his plan for transition from capitalism to socialism. If he is not a socialist, then the above attack on Romney is a cheap political smear, the use of which does not speak highly of McCain.
McCain also denounced Romney for layoffs conducted by companies in which Bain Capital took an investment position: “As the head of the investment company, he presided over the acquisitions of companies that immediately laid off thousands of workers.”
Again, the question must be asked: Does McCain believe in lifetime employment guarantees? If so, he should explain how these guarantees would work in practice, taking into account the experience of countries that have limited forms of such guarantees in place. If he isn’t proposing such guarantees, then obviously there will be layoffs, and this attack on Romney is again a cheap political smear.
I would certainly vote for McCain over any of the Democratic candidates. And there’s a lot I don’t like about Romney. But a lot of McCain’s recent comments and behavior have pushed me into a clear preference for Romney as the Republican candidate.
Everyone in the private sector–particularly those who are or have been “managers for profit”–needs to ask himself whether he really wants a candidate/President who has so little understanding of or appreciation for the work that he does. And those who are not in the private sector, but are still dependent on its economic health, need to ask themselves whether a capitalist economy can be entrusted to a man who seems hostile, at some level, to this economy’s very existence.