Bain and Newt Gingrich's frustration with losing

For many years, I viewed Newt Gingrich as one of the most intellectual figures in national politics. One might disagree with his positions, but he can be counted to bring deep thinking to anything that he's involved with. Anyone who doubts that should read some of the alternative history books that he has co-authored and see just how well-researched the individuals and situations are.

In light of Gingrich's scholarly approach to writing, as well as a number of speaking appearances that I've attended on several subjects (usually non-partisan ones), I was disappointed at the Bain attack video from his super PAC against Mitt Romney. Not only are the video's facts flawed, but it also shows a serious lack of understanding of just what took place and why.

Only when Gingrich got called out on the issue by fellow Republicans did he back off, asking that an attack video about Bain and Romney be revised. Considering the many falsehoods, that's a good idea, but an even better idea would have been to get the facts straight in the first place.


But a closer look at the companies highlighted in the video reveals a murkier picture. The video often overstates, or outright distorts, Romney’s culpability for job losses or bankruptcies.

  • The film talks about layoffs at DDi Corp. and discusses questionable manipulation of stock prices after the circuit board company went public. But Romney had left Bain Capital a year before any layoffs and a public stock offering that ultimately netted Bain and Romney a big payday. The company’s subsequent bankruptcy filing came two years after Bain had largely divested from the company, and was the result of the dot-com bust. Moreover, the company emerged from bankruptcy, and its current CEO credits those early Bain investments for setting the foundation for the company’s current success.&
  • The film claims Romney was involved in the acquisition, management and demise of the now-defunct KB Toys. He wasn’t. Bain bought the toy company nearly two years after Romney left Bain.
  • Likewise, the closing of UniMac’s plant in Marianna, Fla., occurred seven years after Romney left Bain and nearly two years after Bain sold UniMac’s parent company to another private equity house.

With over a decade in human resources and having been involved in executive-level business decisions, I've learned that organizations like Bain usually get involved when a business has showed a critical lack of performance and is often facing the prospect of closing its doors.

Layoffs usually start with the "dead weight" of an organization, first targeting poor performers and those most responsible for putting a company on the ropes. In the event of mass layoffs, cuts may extend farther than that than those most-deserving of being let go, but that is often because the company couldn't afford to carry that large a workforce without going out of business. If you can't afford to pay people, then you can only choose between laying some people off or closing the doors and putting everyone out of work.

These are the kinds of things Gingrich should have known before the attacks were made, but Gingrich hasn't responded well to adverse situations, going on the attack when feels snubbed - even when such responses could blow up in his face. One previous example can be found in the infamous Air Force One episode which helped Clinton win a stand-off with congressional Republicans who were attempting to use their new-found majority position to force greater fiscal restraint. According to CNN:

The speaker said Wednesday that tough terms in the government spending bill President Clinton vetoed Monday night were included partly as the result of pique he and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole felt on Air Force One during flights with the president to and from Israel for the funeral.

After finishing far behind him in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich has fallen behind Romney in South Carolina according to recent polls. He's blaming Romney for falling behind and is lashing out with a flurry of attacks on Romney, and has yet to make a dent in Romney's polling number. In the end, he may find - as he did in 1995 - acting in anger or frustration ends up in a major miscalculation that hands his opponents ammunition to use against him. But it wouldn't be the first time that he's been called out for misleading attacks.

In his alternative history novel Gettysburg, Gingrich presents a radically different outcome of the famous Civil War battle where Confederate General Robert E. Lee's staff confronted the enraged general and talked him out of continuing a series of costly frontal attacks. Once calmed down and willing to accept input from staff officers who see the fight for the town unwinnable, he considers other options, and ultimately devises a more thoughtful approach to confronting Union forces than the bloody frontal assaults which the battle was well-known for, and in doing so changes the course of the Gettysburg campaign.

It is ironic that Gingrich saw this critical flaw in Lee, but can't see it in himself, allowing his anger to drive him to adopt an "anything goes" campaign attack strategy which has wasted money, muddied the GOP primary waters and tarnished his credibility.

Let's hope Gingrich's willingness to back down will be the beginning of a more prudent and thoughtful approach to his campaign. He is certainly capable of better - and the voters certainly deserve better.

3 Response to "Bain and Newt Gingrich's frustration with losing"

  1. RED IN IL 14/1/12 15:52
    DO YOU READ THE NEWS, OR JUST SPOUT OFF STUPID OPINIONS? Newt in a clean fight, Romney started the dirty fighting, and Newt has again and again asked him nicely to stop HIS PAC WITH ALL OF THEIR LIES & MISSTATEMENTS. FORGET IT, YOUR NOT WORTH THE BREATH. START READING THE NEWS. ROMNEY CAN'T BACK UP HIS JOBS CREATED NUMBERS. He also was with Bain longer than 1999. HE SINGNED SCC PAPERS WITH COMPANY IN 2003. THE DEMS ALREADY LET THAT OUT OF THE BAG ON FOX NEWS/O'REILLY. ROMNEY LIES ABOUT EVERYTHING & HAS NOTHING TO BACK HIM UP BUT $. NEWTS SUPERPAC IS SPECIFICALLY ASKING THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN TO PROVIDE THE REAL INFORMATION ON ANY OF THESE DISTORTIONS SO THEY MAY EDIT CORRECTLY. LET'S SEE IF BAIN OPENS UP NOW.
  2. Anonymous 15/1/12 01:50
    Stupid? That's an interesting thing to say coming from someone who uses a bunch of upper case letters like an angry middle schooler and has several misspellings in his comments. Probably someone who thinks everything you do in politics can be done by ranting on Facebook.
  3. Charles Purvis 16/1/12 00:32
    Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate, having made mistakes in both his political and personal life, but he's straightforward enough to admit it, going so far as to say he was wrong and just plain stupid in some cases, and trying to explain his position in others. Out of all the candidates, he is by far the most qualified person to be our next president. He is highly intelligent, an excellent debater, is very well versed in foreign policy, and definately has the moxie and resolve to do whatever is necessary to protect our great nation. He knows how to negotiate while standing firm on his principles and has the record to prove it. He has the most feasible, well thought-out plans of all the candidates. He will take Obama to the proverbial woodshed in any debate and will defeat him in the general election.

    But don't take my word for it. Go to www.Newt.org, see for yourself, do more research, then make your decision.

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