How Bain Shaped Romney

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Peter Hapak for TIME

In this week’s cover story, Bart Gellman delivers some great reporting on Mitt Romney’s Bain days, his decision-making as a consultant and a private equity CEO. The fun is in the details: a joke Romney once told about polar bear hunting and the story of how he almost came to blows with a Goldman Sachs partner who told him to “shut up and let me finish talking.” But the real issue is how Romney’s business experience, which he often cites as his chief political credential, applies to the presidency. Here’s Gellman’s conclusion:

No career can fully prepare you for the incomparable responsibilities of the presidency, but Romney’s business record displays qualities that nearly anyone would want to see in the White House. He has been a sharp judge of managerial and analytic talent, recruiting and holding the loyalties of able people in his investment firm and in the companies he bought. He could not have succeeded in management consulting or private equity without considerable skills as a strategist, salesman and negotiator. Romney’s accomplishments demonstrate “a very high level of intelligence, an ability to size up the situation and put the pieces together, to see the big picture, where they’re trying to go and what they’re trying to accomplish,” says Margaret Blair, a Vanderbilt Law School economist who teaches management law. “Those are good things that would serve a person well who is trying to be the President.”

Yet there are habits of Romney’s business career “that I think don’t translate at all,” she says. “If you walk in the door and you’re from the private-equity firm that has just bought the controlling interest in some company, you literally own the place. You can tell people what to do, and they’ll do it. That’s not the way politics works.”

Romney guided Bain Capital through its stratospheric rise with an extraordinarily selective approach to problem solving. He and his partners did not have to concern themselves with the whole wide world of corporate transactions. Even as a ­multibillion-dollar company in its later years, Bain Capital needed only a few big wins to earn its high returns. Romney learned to filter out most of the files that reached his desk, directing his attention to the fraction that showed the most promise and ­lowest risk.

To do all that well is very far from easy, but that is not the province of a Commander in Chief. Only the hardest problems head to the Oval Office, many of them with high stakes, high risks, ambiguous evidence and only imperfect outcomes. The problems come in twos and threes and tens, allowing little uninterrupted time for deep reflection. And a President can sidestep very few of them, however unattractive the odds of success.

Pick up a copy on newsstands Friday or subscribe and read the whole thing online. Watch exclusive video from 1986 of Romney telling his polar bear joke to Staples employees below:

43 comments
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sambunting
sambunting

I am familiar with the Governor Romney's Polar Bear Story.  But the first time time I heard (saw) it was in the movie " Jeremiah Johnson", where "Griz" ran a Grizzly Bear into a cabin and "Griz" says while laughing, " Skin him Pilgrim and I'll get ya another!"  Change the Grizzly to a Polar bear and the North Pole location to the Rockies in the United States and you have a thinly disguised version of the movie's content.  I guess you can plagiarize when you are telling a joke,  though.  So much for the Guv's original thinking.

stopoutsourcers
stopoutsourcers

.

.

.>>>>>>>>>>>> Republicans WOrld Wide Creation Of Depression Not Recession <<<<<<

Republican GOP Cheney Bush Smoked Cash, Screwed Clintons (SURPLUS)  Cash Handed to Bush SINCE 2001 

 

Just to Republican Cheney Bush's review of deficits only for  six years 

For Year  2001-2002:      $157.800,000,000 billion (1.5% of GDP) 

For Year  2003:               $377.600,000,000 billion (3.5% of GDP) 

For Year  2004:               $412.700,000,000 billion (3.6% of GDP) 

For Year  2005:               $318.300,000,000 billion (2.6% of GDP) 

For Year  2006:               $248.200,000,000 billion (1.9% of GDP) 

For Year  2007:               $161.000,000,000 billion (est.) (1.2% of GDP) 

>>>>> U.S.A Credit Card Feature Pay <<<<<<>>>>>>By Poor And Middle-class <<<<< 

1. Cheney Bush Feb 2008(  700  Bilions  )Stimulus Legislation to Prevent Modern Depression             ( NOT COUNTED ). 

2. IRAQ, 10 Years Paying On Credit Card  for Iraq WAR. to Fight Against 300 Terrorists.        ( NOT COUNTED ).  amp; Loan Interest Not Counted 

3.  Afghanistan, 10 Years Paying  On Credit Card For War  Fight Against 300 Terrorists.       ( NOT COUNTED ).  amp; Loan Interest Not Counted

4. Around $15,000.000.000 Billion In $100 Bills Dollars Cash Was Lost In Irag                                                                      amp; Loan Interest Not Counted

Was Lost up to this Date US Does' Not know Where Are the Trucks of Money (NOT COUNTED). 

5.  $50 Billion Dollars  $50,000.000.000 Cash to Airlines Which Did not Have to Pay it Back.  (NOT COUNTED).

6.  $50 Billion Dollars  $50,000.000.000 Cash is Every Year In Budget Hand Out to Oil Companies  Which Did not Have to Pay it Back.  ( NOT COUNTED ).....

stopoutsourcers
stopoutsourcers

.

Next 50 years  """"""""   Republicans Bush Damaged America for the Next 50 Years to Come """" "  Next 50 Years..

stopoutsourcers
stopoutsourcers

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>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Republican GOP ROmney <<<<<<<<<<<<<

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Republican GOP Tea Romney lying Machine <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<: 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Not Honest At All With American People <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

He’s lied about: 

His finances that he "doesn't know where or how much" he has in Switzerland, the Caymans or Bermuda. 

The "jobs he created" at Bain, but we know he was a job-cremator at Bain. 

The "jobs he created" in MA, but we know MA went from 37th to 47th in job creation under Gov. Mitt. 

That Seamus loved riding on the roof of the car—no dog owner would EVER believe that. .......

f_galton
f_galton

He's obviously smart, a lot smarter than Obama, the key questions are what core principles is he willing to fight over and does he have the right temperament.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

On what basis do you think Romney is smarter than Obama? They are both very smart (and ruthless) politicians, probably smarter than George Bush (although people tended to misunderestimate him because of the way he talked).

f_galton
f_galton

Romney's track record at Bain indicates exceptional intelligence. Obama has never done anything to indicate he's "very smart", he seems to be of slightly above average intelligence.

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

 Romney's gaming a system that's already rigged in his favor.

http://gawker.com/5936873

While that may indicate he has an 'exceptional intelligence' it doesn't exactly paint him as an ethical person, nor does it indicate he has the same priorities and interests as the middle class.

sacredh
sacredh

He beat the Clinton machine and then he kicked the sh1t out of the republican candidate. You don't do that by being John McCain.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Another key question.. what core principles does he actually HAVE to fight over?

We're still looking for evidence of those...

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

Gawker just released a ton of documents from Bain after 1999 with Mitt Romney all over them.  So many lies, so little time to cover them up. 

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

"Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque

complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic

tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that

benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places

that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance

between his own criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money

managers' embrace of those same policies. They also show that some of

the investments that Romney has always described as part of his

retirement package at Bain weren't made until years after he left the

company."

Let's hope the media doesn't ignore this.

http://gawker.com/5936394

Amy Smith
Amy Smith

Bill Clinton helped sink his wife's chances for an endorsement from Ted Kennedy by belittling Barack Obama as nothing but a race-based candidate.

"A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," the former president told the liberal lion from Massachusetts, according to the gossipy new campaign book, "Game Change."

The book says Kennedy was deeply offended and recounted the conversation to friends with fury.

After Kennedy sided with Obama, Clinton reportedly griped, "the only reason you are endorsing him is because he's black. Let's just be clear."

tdinct
tdinct

For Romney the bottom line is the bottom line.  Romney is a business man who spent his entire career, as most businessmen at his level do, working to make himself and his partners rich.  The consequences and moral implications of his actions meant very little if anything to him.  The ends always justified the means.  He took that same philosophy into government, which explains why he switches positions so often....  need to be pro-choice to win a senate race - then he is pro-choice...  need to be pro-life to win the presidential nomination - suddenly he is pro-life.  the same is true with his positions on welfare, medicare, and any number of other issues, including of course, healthcare coverage.  He cares only about doing what is needed to win... just like he cared only about $$$ while at Bain.  This explains his willingness to lie about Obama's welfare policy.  He doesn't care that he is lying, as long as it moves the polls in his direction.  This is who he is at his core.  He is not a leader.  He is a salesman.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Good points - leader v. salesman

Pollopa
Pollopa

Reminds me of an anology; The story lays out the typical sandwich feedback for someone you are trying to get to change behaviour. First you lay out the bread; a build up of what they have done well or at least things they are known for, then you lay on the meat; what it is that is required for the position being addressed, then the toppings; where the gaps are to meet the position, followed by the bread again; if these gaps are not addressed then we get whats known as a sh_ sandwich. For the Romney candidate, we have built another well known sandwich called the Dagwood. The requirements of the job and the gaps being so large to fill that this one can't fit the mouth of the American people. Now when you have to combine the two because the gaps won't be met, then you have a real mess on your hands.  In this case the Republicans are being forced to eat this mess due to the extremists that have taken over and Romney's lack of backbone.  America doesn't have to eat it though, and this will be proven come Nov. Vote Democratic to progress America. Don't eat the sh_ sandwich the republicans are offering.

wagedronenumber9
wagedronenumber9

Only the hardest problems head to the Oval Office, many of them with high stakes, high risks, ambiguous evidence and only imperfect outcomes.

Which of course makes Romney's Bain "experience" far from being "prepared" for the White House.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

The only question pertinent to 'How Bain shaped Romney" is one and one only. "Who are his friends?"

By the way, did I ever tell you about the time I got shoved out of a job after a seventeen year upward career because of a hostile takeover?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Mitt will do whatever helps him today regardless of whether it burns him tomorrow.  This tells me what kind of businessman he is and what kind of President he would be.  And I have no problem believing that his business experience is what created that attitude.

bobell
bobell

Okay, Romney's a highly skilled, intelligent businessman.  (I'm not sure I actually believe it, but let's pretend for purposes of discussion.)  How has that translated to the political sphere?

If he's such a judge of talent, why has he kept the likes of Eric (Mr. Foot-in-Mouth) Ferhnstrom around all these years?  Why in God's name did he pick Paul Ryan to run for VP?

If he's so good at deciding where he wants to go and how to get there, why is it that the only goal of his that people are certain about is that he wants to be president?  Oh, wait, I forgot tax cuts for the rich.  Let's not leave out tax cuts for the rich.

 

If he has such a mastery of the big picture, why have we only the most superficial idea of his tax policy?  His foreign policy?  His economic policy?

If he's such a great detail man, where are the details in his presidential run?  Details about his tax plan, about his Medicare plan, his deficit-reduction plan?

If he's careful and thoughful, there shouldn't be anything in his tax returns so embarrassing that he'd rather take the heat for not releasing them. But where are those returns?

I noticed that Adam omitted honest and trustworthy.  We all know the response to that, don't we?

I wouldn't want Mitt Romney running the lemonade stand in front of my house. Even if he made money, it would somehow be tainted. And he'd probably lie to me about the profit and keep most of it for himself.

jmac
jmac

If he's such a good businessman, why in the world is he running on the Republican ticket?    You'd have to completely ignore history to think that Republicans are responsible in any way on the economy - I mean, it's been a l-o-n-g time since we had Bush Sr  - and it's Republicans who dumped Bush senior.  

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

To balance out this Romney profile, naturally we need to look at Bain too. Just studying the companies they're involved in opens one's eyes. Here's their current list of biggest holdings. Note that bigger or bigger name companies have tended to survive, like Toys 'R' Us, Staples, and recently spun off Bloomin' Brands aka Outback Steakhouse. (If you study recent filings and balance sheets for Bloomin' you also find they're loaded with debt, thus while why I'd LOVE to own that stock since Outback is popular and a fave of mine, I won't due to its debt. But I digress.)

http://www.baincapitalprivatee...

outsider2011
outsider2011

And seriously - is it just me, or is that one creepy a$sed pic of Romney?

sacredh
sacredh

Mooommm, Mitt's lookin' at us that way again!

bobell
bobell

That's okay, sonny.  His intentions are entirely legitimate.

sacredh
sacredh

I blame it on finishing up midnights this morning and not going to bed yet. I just finished mowing and running the lawn sweeper over my yard.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Ah sacred, i so thought you were going somewhere else with the he put, i almost didn't want to read it..

but you know, i did anyway..

sacredh
sacredh

But, but...he put ketchup on my arm!

Pollopa
Pollopa

What is sad is that I agree, and yet it may be the best pic he's had to date. I thik its the black background, like the horror that suddenly jumps out at you from the dark.

sacredh
sacredh

The black in the background is just the Abyss. Mitt is the gateway. I wouldn't worry about it. Much.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 It's too close a pic.

And his psudo-smirk looks like he is just saying, i'm better than you, and i can put one over on you..

sacredh
sacredh

And if he can't, he knows where to hire people that can.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Maybe the reporters and photographers DO slip in secret bat code in their posts and pix while avoiding wrath from the corporate editors. "Despite the Beltway memes and corporate line, WE in the trenches really don't like Mitt. He runs away from us, won't answer anything in detail, won't release tax returns, and his wife keeps calling us 'you people'. But of course we can't let our bosses know this. Hope those damn blog commenters don't figure us out."

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

Politics is largely about the applications of ethics to the public domain of governance. Business is mainly about maximizing personal greed. I don't see a rich domain for drawing analogies, not that it will stop the media from doing so.

MrObvious
MrObvious

I think the premise is wrong; it wasn't bain that shaped Mitt, it was Mitt that shaped Bain and ultimate how capital gains used to work into a vulture capitalism where extorting fees and leverage companies with debt for a quick buck was more important then helping a company with capital. Regardless of success or failure Bain capitalized the gains and socialized the costs.

And ultimately he's a poster boy of the kind of legislation his money power influenced that allows him to pay 13.9 percent tax rate 'as much as he legally need to do' and how he was clever enough to toy around with tax laws in order to pay as little as possible while gaining the most.

Vulture capitalism is atypical of going into the 80's and 90's and what eventually lead to what we have today. And Mitt shaped that more then it shaped him; he was after all the analytical genius that ensured the most gains from the swiss cheese of moral business choices; Bain as a entity was just the vehicle to put that in place.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Yep.  Vulture Capitalism made Mitt the man he is today - much like it did his bank accounts.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 I just don't think he can actually lead - at all.

Every one of his statements, or condemnations (like his condemnation of Akin) is always after everyone else has done it first.

He's too scared to give details of his plans, because people will question them before.

Bush wouldn't kill off OBL. BO did. Romney would just pull a Bush, IMO.

That doesn't make for a great president. Witness bush.

And Romney's business experience was in exploiting companies that needed help. If he were president, is that the plan for the economy? I feel pretty safe in saying yes - An easy example is his tax plan.

Give to the rich, take away from everyone else.

I think his business knowledge is actually quite detrimental to the idea of his being president, to be honest.

Johno007
Johno007

Romney's skill doesn't count much when he will be a puppet for Rove and Koch brothers just as Bush was a puppet for Cheney. Ryan gets his ideas from Ayn Rand who is an atheist. That ought to sit poorly with the GOP Christian right wing. Anyone can cut budgets but it's getting US living with the consequence.   With all that GOP money we could end up with the best government money can buy. It used to be about votes.