Will Mitt's CEO experience make him a good president? The New York Times Op-Ed columnists go to war
Let no one say that the New York Times Op-Ed page isn’t a festival of diversity. On Friday, two esteemed regular columnists, Paul Krugman and David Brooks, tackled the same question — will Mitt Romney’s business experience position him to be a successful president? — and delivered remarkably different answers.
Wait, no, that’s not quite right. Shockingly, on at least a superficial level, Krugman and Brooks agree: Mitt’s business experience as a private equity wheeler and dealer tells us nothing about whether he’d be a good president.
Krugman’s argument is simple: A country is not a corporation. What might make sense for the corporate bottom line — for example, cutting costs by laying off employees and outsourcing production to foreign countries — makes little sense for a nation. Krugman then moves into a familiar discussion of the downsides of austerity, a topic that, whether or not you agree with Keynesian economic policy, is at least relevant to the question at hand.
Brooks’ take is a little more difficult to follow. This is possibly because, after he introduces the question, he swiftly dismisses any in-depth consideration of how economic policy and business experience may or may not intersect and swerves in an utterly different (and ridiculous) direction.
What the United States needs, suggests Brooks, isn’t a CEO. We need an aristocrat.
First, successful presidents tend to be emotionally secure. They have none of the social resentments and desperate needs that plagued men like Richard Nixon. Instead they were raised, often in an aristocratic family, with a sense that they were the natural leaders of the nation. They were infused, often at an elite prep school, with a sense of obligation and responsibility to perform public service.
Whether it is a George Washington, a Franklin or Theodore Roosevelt or a John F. Kennedy, this sort of president enters the White House with ease and confidence, is relatively unscathed by the criticism of the crowd, is able to separate the mask he must wear for public display from the real honest self he knows himself to be.
With this column, Brooks settles, once and for all, the question of whether he himself is an elitist. And not just any run-of-the-mill elitist! No, Brooks is a heroic, truth-telling elitist, with the courage to say what conventional wisdom about American discourse declares verboten!
In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.
Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.
I wonder, why might Americans disdain elitism? Could it have something to do with our history, our defining identity as a people who rebelled against monarchy? Could it be that one of our core values, at least until recently, is the idea that anyone, no matter what family they were born into, or how wealthy they are, or what prep school they attended, has (at least theoretically) the potential and opportunity to rise to the highest office in the land?
Brooks doesn’t weigh in on whether Romney qualifies as a true blueblooded aristocrat — although, given the fact that his father was a governor and car company CEO, the implication is obvious. What’s equally obvious, however, is the slam at Obama, who was raised by a single mother and enjoyed none of the advantages that were mother’s milk to Romney.
Who is more emotionally secure? Who can best withstand the “brutal” (Brooks’ word) attacks that are now being directed at Romney and have been hammering on Obama for more than three years. I guess we’ll find out over the next 10 months of mudslinging.
But for now, excuse me while I look for some tea to dump in a nearby harbor. All this talk of benevolent aristocracy is making me want to start a revolution.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11