Friday, September 7, 2012

Democrats Day Three: Finally Some Backbone

Finally, we had a rousing speech that laid Mitt Romney bare.  Unfortunately, it was John Kerry's speech on foreign policy, one watched by millions, not by tens of millions.  It exploited the weird and inappropriate Republican theme of American Exceptionalism, mocked Romney with the lack of respect and dignity he so well deserves, and gave everyone a reason to hope for this election.

There was also a rousing speech by Jennifer Granholm, who probably would have been the party's nominee in 2008 if she had been American born,  although it was better suited to the live audience, and exciting the crowd state delegation by state delegation,  than it was for the television audience.

There's a lot more she could have said about the auto bailout, if she or any of the speakers at the Dem convention could have talked about Romney's logic in calling for letting Detroit go bankrupt.  Romaney aimed at breaking the United Auto Workers union, and inviting Indian and Chinese car companies here, and reducing the overcapacity in the North American auto industry in general.  American Spectator, the conservative magazine, talked all about overcapacity at the time.  America had factories to build 16 million cars and trucks a year but only a market for 11-12 million or even less.
Don't forget, Romney thought he had special insight into autos because of his dad, and his buddies over at Carlyle Group had been involved in Chrysler for some time.  In his mind, somebody has to lose to rationalize the industry, and it might as well be the American companies with their older plants and older workers.  

Indeed, wipe out the pension obligations of GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy, and you have something with some economic the expense of millions of ordinary folks. How do I know he thought these things? Well his first management consulting job was at Boston Consulting Group, which at that time was pushing a little square with boxes.  You wanted your company to be in the "Cash cows" square, but nothing much could be done with companies that were the "dogs" square except break them apart in case there was some hidden value inside.  Detroit was the "Dogs" square. And we all know how Mitt Romney treats dogs.

To be fair, when Mitt Romney said "Let Detroit go bankrupt" he wasn't thinking that all the jobs would go.  But he was thinking that unionized workers and retirees were preventing the companies from operating profitably, and that foreign owners from India and China would not only help, but their presence would give American companies more leverage in India and China.  That is to say, he has more faith in the business sense of the Communist Government of China or the bureaucratic culture of India than he does in the auto workers who built General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the last of which contains the remnants of his dad's American Motors.  

Romney is one cold and stupid SOB, and post-patriotic in the best traditions of the Criminal Oligarchy who run Wall Street (where the president of the NYSE in 1999 made a trip to Colombia to beg cash from narcotics traffickers and terrorists, something that even the Republicans of that era couldn't stomach, see link).,7404317

Unfortunately, the two marquee speeches of last night's convention were not so good.  Biden lost his place countless times, and managed to seem even more the sycophant than his natural gifts make Paul Ryan.
His message, that bin Laden was dead and GM alive, was delivered in such a serpentine way that one trembles for the vice-presidential debate.  

The president too, was not his best.  His makeup made him look like he hadn't slept in four days, and though he gave the speech with speed and seeming passion, none of it was reflected on his face, as though it were a supreme effort of athleticism to give the speech, rather than a joy.  His speech was better than Romney's, but too general, too full of "bon mots" instead of concrete plans, and what he said sometimes missed connecting with what Romney said.  Romney, for example, promised energy independence by 2020.  Obama promised less and failed to indicate why Romney couldn't get there (such as the likelihood that gas prices would have to double again to give companies enough incentive to frantically exploit shale oil, even presuming it were technically possible to achieve in five years, which I doubt).   Obama repeated his call for higher taxes on the rich, but he didn't go into the long history of American taxation, and how growth was typically highest when the rich were most taxed and why.  In short, it was a good speech but a disappointing performance from someone who is capable of great speeches.

The biggest fault? He didn't plead with the public to elect a democratic Congress, to prevent another four years of obstructionist agendas.  There was a slight undercurrent of distrust in the speech, as though he no longer trusts the public to behave wisely.  He sort of drew attention to it by asserting the opposite at the end, that he trusted the American people now more than ever.

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