The title of this diary is what an unidentified campaign aide of John McCain's did after attending a meeting almost four years ago in 2008 about the financial crisis just before McCain suspended his campaign to rush back to Washington. The aide was told that the pending economic collapse meant, you won’t be able to get a 20-dollar bill out of an A.T.M. The meeting was held at the Hilton hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Guess who else was there according to a new article by Robert Draper in The New York Times?
Romney had been an informal adviser, fund-raiser and campaign surrogate for McCain since dropping out of the G.O.P. race seven months earlier. Well before the meltdown of the markets that summer, the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital C.E.O. had emphasized his vast experience in the private sector. As he told one campaign audience in Sarasota, Fla., in January 2008: “I will not need briefings on how the economy works. I know how it works. I’ve been there.”The long article goes on to provide a lengthy analysis of Romney's time as Governor of Massachusetts. It was about two years in that he probably decided that he was going to run for president. I've always thought that Romney's championing of the healthcare bill in Massachusetts was more about having an accomplishment to add to his resume than it was a personal desire to do a lot of good for his constituents. This part helps to confirm that belief.
That day in the Hilton conference room, however, Romney did not distinguish himself as McCain struggled to decide what course he should recommend in Washington. Holtz-Eakin recalls “nothing specifically” that Romney had to offer. The other McCain senior staff member is more emphatic: “The reality is he didn’t take command. He wasn’t a Marshall-type figure who conveyed an understanding of both business and politics. But the truth is, no one else had any clue what to do, either.” Then he added, “There wasn’t a single person in the room, including Romney, who had any specific policy recommendation.”
And so during the final two years of his term, Governor Romney’s balance sheet included a new and weighty set of considerations. When the needs of his state coincided with the needs of his national political profile, Romney showed a willingness to accommodate his political adversaries that had not been apparent during the first two years of his governorship. This was particularly evident during the effort to pass a universal health care initiative in Massachusetts in 2005-6. “It’s largely true that in his last two years he focused on two things: the beginning of his run for the presidency and health reform, which was to be his signature achievement and one for which he deserves a significant amount of the credit,” Widmer told me. With noticeable amusement, David Bowen, a senior staff member for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who played a key role in the effort, added, “Everyone thought at the time that Romney’s success in forging a bipartisan compromise on health care was actually a thing that he would ultimately run on, not run away from.”Then there is this interesting insight into what motivated Romney when he made decisions as governor.
“Have you seen the movie ‘Animal House’?” one of Governor Romney’s environmental officials asked me. “You remember that character who has the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, both telling him what to do? Watching Romney, my sense was that he was always inclined to do the right thing on environmental issues. But then there was the devil on the other side. You could almost see it. It was palpable. Clearly, in retrospect, he was weighing what was right for Massachusetts with how it would play nationally.”The opening section I quoted at the beginning reminded about what Nancy Pelosi said when she was on The Rachel Maddow Show last week.
But the fact is, is that four years ago, September 18th, it was just a week ago; just a week ago, in my office, the Speaker's Office, and the presence of the Republican and Democratic leader in the House, leaders in the House and Senate, the chairman, the chairman of the Fed, said to us after Secretary Bernanke described a terrible meltdown of our financial institutions, the chairman of the Fed said if we do not act immediately, we will not have an economy by Monday. This is the place they had taken us to. This is the place that President Obama and House Democrats tried to take us from. This is the place that the Republican majority has blocked any of President Obama's initiatives to do more to help individual families in our country.When McCain was briefed about the coming financial disaster Romney was in the room. If Romney understands the economy so well and how to fix it, why didn't he offer any solutions then? If you're interested in learning more about what makes Romney tick, there are a lot of insights in that article, which concludes.
But how could they possibly even pose the question Are you better off? when the chairman of the Fed that day four years ago and one week ago, If we don't act immediately we will not have an economy; and economy by Monday. We certainly are better off as a country, and now we have to make sure we elect a Democratic House to work with the President so we can pass the Jobs Bill, that we can pass political reform. You can't separate, Walter Reuther said, you can't separate the bread box and the ballot box. If you want the right policies for working families, we have to get to the polls. So, onward to victory, don't agonize, organize. Drive for 25.
After four years of Obama, the G.O.P. natives on Capitol Hill are restless. Their dutiful but fidgety optimism was bluntly expressed in a conversation I had with Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho, a freshman, an outspoken Tea Party star and, like Romney, a Mormon. “Everything in Romney’s background tells me he knows how to go into an organization that’s not working and make it work,” Labrador told me.The thought of a Romney presidency is frightening. The Tea Party Republicans are already planning to make sure that he can only govern from the right. They will not let him compromise on anything. That's why we need to win all three: the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
But to Labrador, a Romney presidency could “make it work” only by pursuing a resolutely rightward course. He warned: “If Romney comes in here and feels like he has to capitulate and govern from the middle of the road, not only will it be disheartening: I predict that you will see the conservatives in the House rise up. We’ve been pretty quiet — everybody claims we’ve been rambunctious, but we’ve been pretty quiet. I think you’ll see something different.”