Andy Ferguson's article on the ghastliness of presidential campaign books isn't quite vintage Ferguson. for one thing he ignores the awkward fact that by all accounts Barack Obama did actually write his own book, something which is far from the worst reason for supporting him. Still, Ferguson's account of Mitt Romney's Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games is another welcome reminder of Mitt's Gruesomeness:
Turnaround looks like a business book, reads like a business book, and is as boring as a business book, stomped flat by excruciating accounts of sales pitches, budget meetings, brainstorming sessions, PowerPoint presentations, and marketing strategies. The dream that a businessman might someday seize the reins of American government and force it to work according to the most American of pursuits--making money--is apparently eternal. Over the last 20 years the public's bizarre flirtations with Lee Iacocca, Ross Perot, and Peter Ueberroth have attested to the dream's appeal.
Turnaround is Romney's bid to exploit this frustrated and misguided constituency himself. Just as Huckabee would like to squeeze politics into the categories of pop therapy, Romney hopes to apply the principles of corporate management to politics: "At All Costs, Protect the Brand." "Never Underestimate the Value of Your Product." "Rivalry Breeds Interest." "Communicate the Vision." "Challenge the Team to Stretch." There are a dozen more. If they worked for Romney, they can work for you--and for America. It also helps if you look like Bob Barker.
Entertainingly Ferguson's piece appears in The Weekly Standard a week after Fred Barne' suggested in the same magazine that whatever the shortcomings of the most recent MBA President, Romney is the real deal who deserves to succeed his Harvard classmate and become America's first proper CEO President. According to Barnes:
Romney is not primarily a politician. He's a successful corporate executive with a second career in politics--a second career similar to Ronald Reagan's. He still slips into business consultant lingo, talking (at least to me) about "the breakthrough insight" and a person's "skill set" and "the selection, motivation, and guidance of people."
Barnes, it should be said, seems to view this as a good thing. Indeed, Barnes' entire piece explaining why Romney would be the Best President in the Whole World is based upon Romney's revolutionary idea that it can be a good idea to hear two sides of a discussion before making a decision. This is the sort of vision America - and the world - needs...
And yet the worst of it is that despite this impressive attempt to demonstrate his ghastliness it is possible that Romney is not in fact the worst of the leading Republican contenders...