The Economist on Mitt Romney

“…competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character.”

The Economist magazine is not exactly a partisan left-wing rag. So their cover story this week, “So, Mitt, what do you really believe?” carries a little extra bite. Below are some representative quotes.

…competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character.

….he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected.

…he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop.

The damage done to a Romney presidency by his courting of the isolationist right in the primaries could prove more substantial.

…risking a trade war with one of America’s largest trading partners when the recovery is so sickly seems especially mindless.

…his attempts to lure American Jews with near-racist talk about Arabs and belligerence against Iran could ill serve the interests of his country (and, for that matter, Israel’s).

It is a little odd that the number two has a plan and his boss doesn’t.


Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

9 thoughts on “The Economist on Mitt Romney”

  1. “The Economist magazine is not exactly a partisan left-wing rag.”

    Yes, but that’s all that we’re going to hear from right-wingers whenever someone brings up this piece to attack Romney. The whole media is liberal, haven’t you heard?

  2. Also, I have to comment on this: “The damage done to a Romney presidency by his courting of the isolationist right in the primaries could prove more substantial.” I have a very hard time believing the People in Charge, Big Money Boyz, .01% or whatever you wanna call them will let this happen. Killing the Golden Goose and whatnot. I’m sure Apple especially would be pissed.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to add the quote where Romney said he’d label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, and thereby risk starting a trade war. Just don’t see that happening.

      1. How crazy is Mitt prepared to be? We do not yet know. George W. Bush was also regarded as a sensible steward of the economy, and the electorate that puts Mitt in office will demand a lot more craziness than was required of Bush.

  3. Of all the comments quoted above, the one that tickled me the most was the last. Would that life in the fast lane were so simple.

    Of course, things are more complicated than we’d like them to be. If you’re running for President, whether you have a plan or not is secondary to how you present yourself and your “broad goals and objectives.” If Ryan had been running for President for the last four years, perhaps he’d have been more circumspect, too, about some of those absurd details.

  4. A little OT, but here’s a question I’ve been wondering about: Aside from the practical residency requirements (which he seemed to satisfy only by squinting ones eyes), why did Romney choose to run for governor of Massachusetts? I mean, if you’re a nominal conservative solely interested in power acquisition why run in a blue state? Why not take the safer route and run in a red state like Utah?

    1. If you’re a Republican, and a Mormon, who is planning to run for President, being governor of MA is a lot better springboard than being governor of Utah.

      And Shannon O’Brien was no Ted Kennedy.

  5. Remember when Nixon claimed to have a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War? Remember how, after he was elected, instead of ending the war, he escalated it and bombed Cambodia (think Pakistan) as well? Remember how the public held him responsible for his failure to end the war by not re-electing him? No?

    Effective politicians have learned that they’re rarely held accountable for their promises. And the more specific the promise, the likelier it might come back to bite them. So the solution is to claim to have plans without actually having them. It’s easier not to have to work out the details, you can claim whatever grand principles you want, and the other side can’t argue with them. Hence: Romney’s economic plan. He doesn’t have one. That way, he can say whatever he likes, and the opposition can’t criticize what doesn’t exist. His imaginary plan will result in growth and prosperity. How can you argue with that?

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