by Yuval Levin
My favorite bit of irony from the Great Bain Debate so far has got to be these opening lines from yesterday’s New York Times story on the subject:
Thanks to a $5 million donation from a wealthy casino owner, a group supporting Newt Gingrich plans to place advertisements in South Carolina this week attacking Mitt Romney as a predatory capitalist who destroyed jobs and communities, a full-scale Republican assault on Mr. Romney’s business background.
It’s like a paragraph straight out of a Tom Wolfe novel.
But this fight hasn’t all been quite so fun. It is a mild G-rated preview of the version of this attack that the Obama team would pull out in the fall if (as seems likely) Romney will be the Republican nominee. If you think about it, and especially if you think about what it is supposed to tell us about Romney, it’s really a profoundly preposterous attack. And if they’re properly prepared, the Romney team could actually turn it to their advantage in the general election, if they do in fact get that far. But it has revealed two problems that conservatives who have risen to Romney’s defense and the Romney team itself will need to address. The former have too easily treated finance as the entirety of capitalism, and so have needlessly made both the defense of finance and the defense of capitalism more difficult. And the latter have too easily treated Romney’s Bain experience as the entirety of the case for his election, and so have needlessly made both the case for Romney’s Wall Street work and the case for his candidacy harder.
I was going to expand on all that, but then I read this Jon Last post from this morning, which does that and more, and better than I could. Well worth your while.