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Romney’s background does matter

In the 2008 presidential campaign detractors of Barack Obama claimed his background was inadequate. At that point Obama had been a community organizer, a constitutional law professor, a state senator and a U.S. Senator. Try accomplishing those credentials if you think them easy or superficial.

In truth, that background has helped President Obama serve the nation during his presidency.

Today the credentials of Mitt Romney are likewise being attacked, and this is of course both appropriate for one being considered for our highest office, and political for those suggesting his background in inadequate for the presidency.

Frankly, ignoring that Mr. Romney has accomplished a great deal in his career is simply foolish. Romney was CEO of the very successful Bain Capital; he led the United States’ 2002 Olympics to success; and he has served as Governor of Massachusetts.

All of these accomplishments are valuable and significant. I think Americans would not want a president who had a past of failures in their ventures.

But to be fair, Mr. Romney’s business background, his ability to make profit, is not relevant to his quest for the presidency.

There has been only a poor co-relation to business success and the American presidency. The US presidents with the most business background were Coolidge, Hoover, Truman and Bush father and son. None of these presidencies were deemed highly successful (although the Truman presidency has been elevated over recent decades). None of these presidencies are ranked in the top ten of administrations.

So the claim that success at Bain means success as the U.S. president is, as President Obama has noted, more a reflection that the job of president is very different than the job of profit before all else. Bain then does not indicate anything about Romney’s ability to serve the needs of a nation.

A president is charged with representing the general welfare of the people of the United States, be they citizens struggling in poverty or inventors seeking support, or veterans needing special services.

This is not to suggest however that some of the leadership qualities gained through Mr. Romney’s background are not applicable to the presidency. Organizational skills, motivational skills, and compassion are all values we cherish in our presidents. To the extent that Mr. Romney’s experiences have validated these skills, his background is relevant.

More directly useful to understanding the presidential credentials of Mr. Romney is to consider his solutions for our problems.

Mr. Romney has claimed this week he could reduce unemployment to 6 percent during his first term. He must know from his background that claims are easy, but workable strategies are what really matters.

So if Romney can reduce unemployment how will he do so? Given his earlier comments we know he thinks government does not create jobs, but creates an environment for jobs.

Given that taxes are their lowest in decades how could further tax cuts help create jobs? President Bush cut taxes significantly and created very few jobs, while creating a great deal of public debt. Would Romney create still more public debt this way?

Mr. Romney has claimed he would reduce business stifling regulations, but which ones specifically? Would he once again de-regulate the banks that squandered our resources? Would he end environmental regulations intended to save lives though the control of pollution?

What matters this year is the merit of the solutions offered, not the empty rhetoric of unsupported claims. Mr. Romney, if his experience is to serve him well, needs to provide facts to support his positions, not generalities to claim success before accomplishment.

And that is how we will know if he is qualified to serve the nation.

 

Jim Crawford is retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.