One of the frequent responses I get from Newt supporters regarding his attacks on Bain is “fair’s fair. Romney unfairly attacked Newt and Newt’s just returning fire.” And that’s true as far as that goes, but that doesn’t go very far. I’m not condemning rough attacks on Romney or even unfair attacks (though I suppose technically that if you think an attack is unfair you must condemn it). Frankly, if he’s going to be the nominee he should get even more bloodied to prepare him for the deluge to come. It is the nature of the attack that bothers me. As with his “right-wing social engineering” jab at Paul Ryan last year, Newt has a peculiar gift for crafting attacks that will do maximum damage to conservatives generally.
Jonathan Last’s points are well taken. But Ramesh is right. Newt is not making a nuanced argument of any kind. He’s basically making the Left’s emotional, cartoonish, argument against Bain — and “Wall Street” if not capitalism itself — bipartisan. And, I want to know when did Newt come to this conclusion? Before, after, or during his association with the private-equity firm Forstmann Little?
I think the press — and anyone else — who immediately took his “I like to fire people” comments out of context should be ashamed of themselves. What Romney said was absolutely totally defensible and true — we all like punishing bad firms by moving our business to good firms. But what an oddball formulation for Romney to use: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
This is how he describes the act of taking his business elsewhere? Romney has this way of talking that often sounds politcally tin-eared, like he’s translating his thoughts from a different language as he speaks. His inabilty to connect with voters has me really worried. He says the right things for the most part, but like Spock reading a love poem, there’s an ingredient missing.
After all, if his experience at Bain Capital made Romney such an expert at unleashing the power of the free market, where’s the evidence he did that in Massachusetts?