William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has a fascinating take on the Bain/Mitt/Newt/Obama hub-bub:
We don’t know all of the details of how Bain conducted its business under Mitt Romney, but we do know that in at least several instances the conduct was to squeeze out cash while leaving behind a failed company. In many other instances Bain helped companies to grow.
In a capitalist system, that process of weeding out weaker companies and reallocating resources may serve a greater good, much as natural selection helps to make the population stronger. In a political candidate running for the presidency in the general election, however, it is potentially fatal.
In response to this entirely legitimate point being raised that a predatory history of investing may not be what we want in the nominee for the presidency, we have a chorus of voices asserting that Newt is attacking capitalism. Some of those voices long have hated and vented venom at Newt, others are less ideological and have reacted as if the entire capitalist system were under attack.
It’s sad to see so many in the Republican Party so incapable of distinguishing between economic and political arguments.
The question all along has not been whether a predatory style of investing should be legal, or whether it serves some larger purpose in our economic system. The question is do we want the entirety of the general election turned into a referendum on Bain, which it will be if Romney is the nominee regardless of whether or by what means the issue is raised in the primaries.
I want the general election to be about Obama, and his movement of the country towards a West European style of socialism. Capitalism, which achieves the greatest good for the greatest number of people, easily should win that argument. Yet it may not because the Republican Party now has equated capitalism to Bain.
Capitalism can beat Obama, Bain cannot.
Some commenters say it is not right to make value judgments as to Bain, as if criticizing Bain is an attack on capitalism. I think Dan Riehl has it right...
What I find fascinating about this Bain discussion is how transparently defensive it's making the "uncommitted" GOP establishment. We heard nothing but crickets while their guy Mitt was running lying scorched-earth ads 24/7 in Iowa against Newt, but now that their guy's business ethics are being vetted, they throw a fit. Nobody has seen the Bain/Mitt documentary yet, but everyone of Mitt's non-supporting supporters have something to say about it. We'll see soon enough if there is anything to it. Then, if Mitt becomes the candidate, we'll hear it again--but not from Newt's $5 million dollar microscope, no, it will come from Obama's billion dollar one.