Commentary
10:46 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Romney and the Bailout

Usually, journalists are sent press releases before political events, because the organizers want reporters to cover them. Monday, I got one about an event that was already over.

That would normally strike me as a trifle unusual, until I saw that it was from the Green Party of Michigan. They had a meeting last weekend in Bay City which they said was “charged with enthusiasm.“

What did they talk about? Well, among other things, quote “the unrest palpable among the lower echelons of society.” and the “once-dismissed voters who opted to eschew either,” major party nominee.

I instantly imagined a Monty Python routine with a politician saying, “My word, the unrest is palpable in the lower echelons.”

This may help to explain why the Greens got less than one fifth of one percent of the vote here four years ago.

Many of the Greens strike me as classic examples of ideological purists who might say, “Well, that seems to work in practice. But will it hold up in theory?”  Though they will hate me for saying this, they have that in common with some on the far right.

Those folks are having a hard time with the government-sponsored bailout of the auto industry three years ago.

The right was savagely against this. Fortunately for the country, it worked, and worked far better than I thought it would.

Chrysler and General Motors not only survived but are making billions. Ford, which didn’t take government money, is thriving too, in large part because the so-called bailout saved the industry’s common suppliers. Had the automakers failed, Michigan’s economy likely would resemble something like the worst of the Great Depression.

Presidential Mitt Romney knows that. He also knows, however, that the bailout is still ideologically unacceptable to much of his party. So he wrote, or had written for him, a tortured analysis of all this which was published under his name in yesterday’s Detroit News.

Romney called the government intervention “crony capitalism on a grand scale,“ and said the president caved in to the “union-boss-controlled trust fund.” He acknowledged  that the managed bankruptcy Chrysler and GM went through was the right thing to do, and claims this happened because the President decided belatedly to follow the course, he, Romney, recommended. But he then contradicts himself by saying “I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.”

What is most striking about Romney’s tortured attempt to bend reality to fit theory is that he never mentions the evil genius who began what he calls the sellout of the taxpayers to the unions, who began giving Treasury billions to these failing companies.

I speak, of course, of one President George W. Bush. His name is almost as taboo with Republicans today as Leon Trotsky’s used to be in the Soviet Union. So Romney ignores that Bush started the bailout. Many of his other assertions also are at variance with the  facts. I’m not quite sure what Romney accomplished with this piece, or whether it was meant to help him win this state’s primary election.  However, it is pretty clear that it will do anything but help him win Michigan in November. If Romney is the nominee, it will be interesting to see just how Democrats use this in the fall campaign.