Mitt’s True Character: MIA
We elect our leaders based on character, made of values and evident in judgment. Character – we look for it in the vision our candidates lay out for our future, the way she or he leads and responds to negative attacks, and we find it in consistency on the (very long) campaign trail. By adamantly refusing to offer any substantive foreign policy plan, and by refusing to provide past tax returns,Romney is preventing voters from seeing his true character.
When asked about how Romney would select his cabinet, that is, the inner circle of leaders that shape American policy, Romney says,
“I would probably have super-cabinet secretaries, or at least some structure that [management consultant firm] McKinsey would guide me to put in place. I’m not kidding. I would probably bring in McKinsey, Bain, BCG, or Jack Welch.”
If Romney isn’t able to trust his judgment in selecting his own cabinet, why should we? Would Romney have asked management consultants whether or not to go after Osama bin Laden in Abottabad? Would Romney have asked management consultants whether to authorize a US Navy SEAL Team to use deadly force to rescue Captain Phillips from Somali pirates? How would Romney think about ordering an attack on Iran? In an October 2007 debate from the last time he ran for President, he said this,
“You sit down with your attorneys…I have very little information, for instance, on: How many nuclear facilities are there? Where are they? Can we take them out? Can we not? What is the capacity of the Iranianmilitary to respond?…It’s such a wide array of information I’d need to know whether something is a good idea or a bad idea…So it depends.”
All of his points are important, but they show no strategy, no barometer by which to measure Romney’s character. Perhaps it tells us that he’s a candidate who needs a lot of information to make decisions, but it certainly doesn’t give any indication of what he’d do with all that information. But perhaps that’s the point, given that “Romney doesn’t want to really engage on [foreign policy] issues until he is in office,” according to his aides.
Hillary Clinton famously attacked then-Senator Obama with her 3am phone call ad, suggesting that Obama’s judgment could not be trusted if he were to receive that call. Well he’s received many of those calls, and he’s passed the test. Does Romney have values and character that would enable him to make a decision, or would Romney make a 3:05am call to his consultants before making a decision?
McKinsey-hired Cabinet Secretary: “President Romney, there’s an emergency. We have option A and option B. What do you want us to do?”
President Romney: “Let me get back to you.”
If candidate Romney won’t show us his character, and if he won’t take a risk of laying out a good foreign policy that his Republican base might not like, how do we know what he’d do when we need leadership most? And what about domestic decisions? Does he need consultants for that too? WouldRomney have asked a team of consultants whether he should save the Americanauto industry? Oh wait… Romney-the-businessman’s economic assessment was slightly off the mark on that one.
Romney has often cited his leadership of the Bain Capital as proof that he understands the economy and can somehow improve it. Based on his fortune of over $200 million, he clearly was able to do very well financially through the decisions that he’s made. This at least tells me that he knows how to game the system. I’d imagine with so much success, he’d be happy to show his tax returns as evidence of his good judgment. Certainly these wealth-creating decisions indicate Presidential-level judgment. But instead, he chooses to keep his decisions, and his character, hidden.
The Wall Street Journal has dubbed Romney the Consultant-in-Chief, referring to his seeming inability to make a decision without a team of consultants. His advisors and leaders of his own party are all stumped on what Romney actually stands for. I give a guy like Donald Trump more credit for actually standing for something (never thought I’d type those words); that’s a guy who let’s his character drive his decision making, and doesn’t need to ask consultants what kind of character he should have today.
Since Romney offers no real policy, and must go to his consultants for all decisions, I’ll say no to a Consultant in Chief.
Dan Futrell is a Truman Security Fellow.