Saturday, July 28, 2012

What went SO WRONG for Mitt?

One of Obama's great strengths is that all his life he has cultivated mentors.  And this, to my analytic mind, suggests both humility and a capacity to make use of the wisdom of others.   Thus, when Obama recognizes that we all build on the shoulders of others, he isn't just stating an assertion, he is recognizing his debts to society and to those, along the way, who have dealt him a helping hand.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, mocks such wisdom.  He asserts that success is the measure of one's personal efforts alone.   Now I used to think that this was just one more of Mitt's political nostrums.  But it's clear now, after Mitt's self-inflicted London skewering, that Mitt truly believes and acts as if his own counsel is all he needs.  Mitt needs the limelight.  He doesn't want to share it. He doesn't seek mentors.  And, from all accounts, he regularly over-rules not only his own campaign advisers but his own party's offers of wisdom.  Refusal to release his taxes being just one unwise example.

If you look back in Mitt's life, it's clear he prefers to be the leader of a gang.  And he makes use of such leadership to prey on others.  Fellow students.  Companies.  Opponents.  Such leaders require subservient accomplices.  We call such people bullies actually.  And bullies do not take direction.  They do not take advice.  They do not share the limelight.  They do not seek mentors.  And they don't second-guess themselves.  Or apologize.

This is exactly the kind of behavior we saw on display in London.  Mitt went there with only a small team.  He ignored the advice of his own campaign strategists to stay away from a foreign trip.  He must have trusted his own instincts for how to handle himself when he arrived there.  For he didn't seem to have a plan for how to behave or what he was trying to accomplish.  So what did he do?  He put his own self-importance on display:  His MI6 gaffe.  He couldn't share the limelight:  So he ridiculed the Brit's Olympic preparation.  He couldn't apologize - despite being given many, many opportunities to do so.  And he left most of his advisers at home, so he had no one to turn to...  as he lurched from gaffe to gaffe.

Hour after hour in London Mitt just made things worse for himself.  But he carried on, as if in denial of his totally self-inflicted humiliation.  Indeed, he seems to be a man who is incapable of recognizing his own errors - while all too ready to pin those same errors on others.  Just watch how often he does this.  How so many of his lies are based upon projection, that is seeing in others the sins of oneself.  It requires a certain level of delusion to fail to see one's own faults, while at the same time bullying an opponent with false accusations - of the disavowed sins of oneself.  This is Mitt to a "T"!

So what went wrong for Mitt in London?  First of all, he was a man without a gang.  A man ready to go it alone.  A man ready for a prize-fight.  And with no one to stop him, he threw punch after punch.  What happened, when the British press went after him, when even British politicians joined in, was the kind of pile-on Mitt has dealt out to others from high-school on.  The amazing thing when you think about it is this:  Due to his own arrogance and spitefulness, as well as to his lack of humility and inability to cultivate and use mentors, Mitt's Misbehavior actually sparked a gang of opposition.  The opposite of what he's experienced all his life.  So instead of him being the gang leader, he offered himself as a perfect target.

As I've said before, the man has serious character flaws.  Flaws which prevent him from cultivating or following the wisdom of mentors.  Flaws which were all too much on display in London.  Flaws which may be covered up when he is surrounded by a gang of sycophants.  But sycophants, like Uriah Heep, have agendas of their own.

There are all too many hidden agendas within the campaign of Mitt Romney.  Some of them pertain to his own flawed method of leadership via gang attack - based on disavowed flaws within himself, which he projects onto others.  Some of them lie within the sycophants he cultivates, people who give him money or people who fawn.  A man with character flaws such as Mitt's is all too easy for others to manipulate.  He views himself as the sole architect of his own success.  But while he avoids mentors and rejects wise advice, Mitt's need for the limelight - his need for a gang of sycophants - opens the door to (covert) manipulation.  Could be foreign:  As he makes himself the tail to Israel's dog. Could be domestic:  His need to appease the right wing, the evangelicals, the libertarians, and the monied.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Romney 2012: A Study in Why Ethics Matters

This post draws substantially on a post of mine from the 2008 election.  In that post I used a VP candidate's behavior to illustrate some ethical problems.  This time, sadly, I must use a presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.  For I think his behavior exemplifies certain ethical lapses - which strike at the heart of why his campaign is currently experiencing so many difficulties.  Let me set the scene with some paragraphs from the prior post:
"Most professions offer some training in ethics. But an ethics code, no matter how detailed, is no substitute for extensive training in ethical decision-making. And many people who enter politics may stumble seriously for lack of sensitivity to ethics. Awareness of boundaries and the ability to draw firm boundaries goes a long way toward protecting oneself from ethical lapses. I doubt politicians get any training in that. And then we’re just left with the person’s own ethical understanding. That, to my mind, is exactly why character and temperament are so important in picking leaders.
"What follows is a list of general problems, which may arise from a failure to draw boundaries (borders) between professional roles and duties versus private or personal roles and duties. Many of the examples in this list relate to [Mitt Romney] specifically, but they are typical of the kinds of problems any politician, bureaucrat, or other professional might face."
In the case of Romney, I'll also be adding some other issues relating to his failure to draw boundaries between the personal, the business, and the political realms.  And perhaps what I have to say will throw light on the conflicts currently boxing Mitt in, some of which I have already detailed here.

Please excuse the numbering below.  It should read 1 and 2, but the software and I are incompatible!  (At least I can recognize a boundary violation when I see one.)
  1. "When a politician mixes personal and professional [and political] roles, he or she is not looking out for the citizens’ interests so much as for his or her own." 
  • Romney, for personal reasons, wants to withhold releasing years of taxes.  His personal reasons?  Shame, it would appear.  He is putting this before a fiduciary duty to voters.  (Interestingly, he should feel ashamed not to do as his father did.  So there's another role conflict in his tangled inner torment.)
  • Romney, for similar personal reasons is trying to disclaim responsibility for 3 or 4 years of his tenure at Bain, even though business and government records indicate his involvement.  And even though his prior role as Chairman, CEO, and Sole Owner would have set the tone and business plan for his company's conduct during those years.  His reason?  Again, to avoid shame.  This time on both the personal and the professional (business) levels.
  1. (#2) "Drawing boundaries helps a person make ethical decisions.
  • It seems that Romney is unable to recognize that political obligations - transparency related to the fact that he has put himself forth as a candidate for the highest office in the land – supersede personal wishes
  • And he fails to recognize that his obligations to the voters supersede his own needs or preferences as a private individual.
  • If Romney could draw boundaries between his various roles here, he would be able to accede to the public's right to know as well as to the pleas of members of his own party, whom he is stubbornly ignoring - due to putting personal pride ahead of fiduciary duties.
Let's go back to my prior post for a few more choice paragraphs (under which are discussion bullets related to Romney's ethical difficulties):
"In my view people who can draw boundaries have one of the single most important qualities of a good leader or good supervisor, no matter where they might work. These are people who grade fairly and treat students or employees or children equally. Who can place professional responsibilities above personal needs. Who recognize that authority is not a power to wield but a responsibility one discharges. That the one with greater power always has greater responsibility to draw boundaries and exercise special care for those they serve or who serve under them."
  •  Romney shows a failure to draw boundaries as early as his time at Bain.  Recall the photo where he, as CEO, shares with his employees a group prank.  They all have $$$ coming out of their pockets.  This may seem a small thing.  But it indicates that he, as a manager, has failed to lead.  He is joining with them, perhaps even put them up to this, in behaving like a schoolboy.  (Behavior which was also evident in high school and college - when he organized gangs to bully fellow students.)
  • Likely there are other examples from Romney's life.  We may soon see them, as I suspect we have not seen the last of press investigation or opposition research.  (Or could be a trip to foreign lands...)
  • Yup!  Romney:  Disowned by venture capitalists.  His lack of transparency and conflicting claims (in business dealings) contribute to a culture of mistrust and corruption.  Boston Globe digs deeper, finds more blurred boundaries.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My brush with Mitt

Sometimes a "mystery" is explained.  I have the evidence!

Till recently, I only had the mystery.

Some years ago, I purchased pads of paper.  They were in a lovely graph paper design.  And the paper quality was exceptional!  I used them for writing up therapy notes.  Which meant that I needed a pretty good supply of good paper.  And I went through a lot of it.

Even though I'd purchased this paper in plastic-wrapped packages of a dozen or so... eventually my supply ran low.

That's when I had my brush with Mitt.  Though I had no idea who he was or how his behavior impacted my small business, so to speak.

First a digression.  Why graph paper? ... you may be asking.  Well, in Europe they always had these nice writing pads in a graph paper design.  And when I found some, right here in the USA, at a time when I needed a lot of writing paper of good quality, I was delighted!

But I was not delighted when I tried to replace my dozens of shrink-wrapped writing pads.  Instantly, I could see the difference!  The paper was flimsy.  The printing was poor.  Same company.  Same product name.  But the quality was terrible!  And I had pads of the formerly good paper left over.  So I could prove it to myself.  Over and over.

I was so bothered by this, as I'd really enjoyed writing on that nice paper... and I still had lots more writing to do... that I phoned the company.  To complain.  They were very apologetic.  And sent me 3 replacement packages (with a dozen writing pads each).  To make up for it.  I still have some of them.  All these years later.  For:

The replacements were identically terrible.              

That was in the mid 90's, I'd guess.

Fast forward to 2012.  Mitt Romney is running for president.  Bain Capital is on the radar screen.  And upon that radar comes the name AmpadThat name rings a bell.

Folks, I can personally demonstrate the effect of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital upon Ampad.   And upon me.  

Did I ever purchase from Ampad again?  Nope!

Mitt Romney ran that company into the ground.  He likely destroyed its customer base.  And believe me, I would have been a very loyal customer!  For I needed a lot of that good paper.  Which never came back. 

So if Mitt thinks he's a great businessman, I have news for him.  I can prove it!