By Roger F. Gay (Twitter @rogerfgay)
Nothing, in my opinion, encapsulates Mitt Romney's drive for the presidency better than the secret video taken by one of his political opponents. “I'm a big believer in getting money where the money is,” he proudly proclaims, “and the money is in Washington.”
As he tells his story about successfully extracting a record amount of public funds when chairing the 2002 Winter Olympics, in direct contradiction to claims of limited public funding for the event on the campaign trail, a seemingly much more accurate view of his “private sector experience” in “business” also emerges.
Romney was hired directly out of Bain Capital in February 1999 to serve as the President and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee. From his own bragging about his activities, it's extremely clear that the skill and experience he brought to the organization was that of a Washington lobbyist. It really takes the steam out of his claim that he's the only Republican candidate who's “never been to Washington.” Maybe he meant the state?
Mitt Romney was introduced into the Political Class as the son of former Michigan Governor George W. Romney (1963-1969). George was also chairman and president of American Motors Corporation (1954 to 1962). In an era (just after WWII) still powered by government contracts and civilian spin-offs, the company helped lead the way to a new world order of things by shipping manufacturing jobs to foreign countries. He was also the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1969 to 1973) under Richard M. Nixon.
He must have grown up with the sense that “capitalism” and business in America is driven by public money, or at least that's the formula for a get rich quick scheme. The big successes he knew about were driven by lots of public money. If you want a big business success, you go “where the money is,” Washington DC, to get it.
He's an integral part of exactly what President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about in 1961, the “military-industrial-[political] complex.” But it's not just about the military anymore. The system has grown to deserve a more general (and perhaps older) name – cronyism.
No wonder it's so difficult to find a significant difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.