2011 October 02 Sunday
Romney And Perry Compared

Mitt and Rick are unalike in important ways.

One was born into a privileged family in a tony Michigan suburb; the other, onto a flat expanse of West Texas dirt with no indoor plumbing. One spent his youth tooling around his father’s car factory; the other, selling Bibles door to door so he could afford to buy a car. One excelled at Harvard University, simultaneously earning law and business degrees and swiftly climbing the corporate ladder; the other, his hope of becoming a veterinarian dashed when he flunked organic chemistry at Texas A&M University, joined the Air Force.

Organic chemistry is not hard. It is a lot of memorization. But it does not require complex feats of logic. Someone who can't pass organic chemistry probably should not become President of the United States. Someone who can simultaneously earn law and business degrees has a lot more intellectual octane and is more up to mastering everything a US President had better understand.

Perry and Romney both have experience as governors. That executive branch experience is essential, as Obama's lack of such experience has showed. You've got to be good at managing people and sizing up the people offering you advice. The fact that the Republican front-runners are both governors is a good thing.

Unfortunately, Romney's background as a northerner works against him in the current Republican Party. Ditto his Mormonism. But we really would benefit from having a very smart former governor and accomplished businessman as President. America's problems are large and growing. Things are going to get worse regardless of who gets elected. But the rate of decline could be less under better management.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 October 02 09:20 PM  Politics American Presidency


Comments
Black Death said at October 3, 2011 5:21 AM:

There are four post-WW II presidents who had previously served as governors - Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush II. IMHO, Reagan was the best president of my lifetime, Carter, the worst, and Clinton and Bush II, somewhere in the middle. So a previous governorship does not guarantee success. Still, the executive experiences of Perry and Romney do look good in contrast to Obama's incompetence.

Romney has changed his position on many important issues - healthcare, abortion, the stimulus package. To many Republicans, he looks like a flip-flopping northeastern RINO who lacks core convictions. But I'm not sure this is a bad thing. The Republicans in Congress (who stand a good chance of controlling both houses following the next election) will be distrustful of him. I am afraid that they would go along with anything Perry proposed, such as an immigration amnesty. After all, he's from TEXAS. And the last thing we need is another Bush clone.

Romney is certainly very intelligent. But so is Carter, and how much good did it do him?

bbartlog said at October 3, 2011 6:55 AM:

Organic chemistry overall is moderately difficult - though as I understand it he flunked out of the first course, i.e. something along the lines of Organic Chemistry 101, which should not be. While a lot of it is memorization you also need some reasoning to understand reaction mechanisms, bonding and antibonding orbitals, and so on. Some visualization is also helpful when it comes to stereochemistry.
Agree that high intelligence guarantees nothing as far as presidential success, but at the same time I think there is a minimum requirement (maybe IQ 120-125) which Perry doesn't meet.

Sgt. Joe Friday said at October 3, 2011 7:53 AM:

Temperment and people skills are important, and overlooked.

Over at isteve, Sailer points out that Kennedy was a good politician because he went to some pains to make sure his political adversaries of the moment could walk away from the bargaining table with something to show for their efforts. He also took care to not so antagonize those same adversaries that they would redouble their efforts to ensure his defeat at some later point down the road.

Clinton and Reagan both seemed to instinctively understand this. In fact, Reagan once said something like "someone who agrees with me 70% of the time is not my enemy." Carter and Bush 43 did not get this, and Obama doesn't seem to get it either.

Lou Pagnucco said at October 3, 2011 11:31 AM:

A choice between strychnine or cyanide.

BTW, the (Democratic) pot (correctly) calls the (Republican) kettle black in mini-video -
"Mitt Romney: The Gold Standard In Outsourcing"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN-qs4udlkw
The equally responsible Clinton-Gore-Obama are not mentioned.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts closes his latest piece (at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26896) -

"To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country.
The only future for Americans is a nightmare."

Maybe, the glass is empty.

Lono said at October 3, 2011 11:44 AM:

Randall,

You have got to be kidding me.

Do you not think that Obama is smart? He clearly is one of the most intelligent and articulate Presidents the U.S. has ever had - and he IS doing a good job - for the special interests who got him elected.

Romney would use his considerable intelligence in the exact same way.

Either we elect a smart AND constitionalist candidate - like Ron Paul - or we do the exact thing over and over again and expect different results.

(which we will never get)

Please don't tell me you actually believe Romney would not continue the rush towards a NAU and the endless corporate welfare we are currently experiencing.

WJ said at October 3, 2011 12:47 PM:

Romney's Mormonism can only really hurt him in the Republican primaries, where many evangelicals may prefer a non-Mormon. I think he'd be 10 points higher in the polls if he weren't Mormon. OTOH, it may be helping him among some by suggesting that he's innately more conservative than most Northeastern Republicans. Romney did far better in 2008 than Giuliani did, in part I suspect because everyone knew Giuliani wasn't religious. Southerners and non-coastal Westerners inherit the mantle of cultural conservatism by simple virtue of where they live (W, McCain, Perry). For a Yankee or Pacific Stater to win the GOP nomination it may be especially helpful to be a regular churchgoer.

If Romney gets through the primaries his religion won't hurt him more than Obama's race, religion, and general anti-Americanism. I don't trust Romney much, but I think by this point it's pretty clear that you can't trust Perry at all, especially on immigration. Perry is a dumb, corrupt, open borders-supporting redneck. As a Utahn and an ex-Mormon I think it's hilarious that Perry's support for open borders is helping the Mormon win. The Mormon Church has become pretty fanatically open borders, especially as expressed via its radio station (KSL) and newspaper (The Deseret News). The latter generally can't go a week without publishing a pro-illegal immigration editorial, and has maintained that position through multiple changes in publishers and editors.

concerned patriot said at October 3, 2011 7:09 PM:

Strong post. I don't like either, but I prefer Romney to Perry. Personally I'd rather vote for Herman Cain. I know cain has no political experience, but I am sick of politically correct politicians who do not actually attack problems with solutions. Herman Cain can do that. advancingthetruth.blogspot.com

Jeff Maylor said at October 4, 2011 3:19 AM:

The real key is who would these guys surround themselves with? The saying is: Personnel is policy. Presidents don't really seem to do much real economic thinking, but they have a general philosophy and tap certain kinds of people. Does anyone know who Romney associates with in this regard?

bob sykes said at October 4, 2011 4:31 AM:

The way the Republican Party works is, candidates have to spend a few years working in the fields waiting their turn. Reagan spent decades waiting. It's Romney's turn. He will be the candidate. The campaign for the nomination is over.

Maybe next time it will be Perry, but not now.

The wackjobs like Bachmann and Paul are mere entertainment until the convention.

Lono said at October 4, 2011 7:48 AM:

Bob,

How blind you truly are to believe a strong constitutionalist - like Ron Paul - who emulates the Founding Fathers in all he does and says - is a wack job.

Sounds like the political machine has succeeded in giving you a snow job.

Comparing an inarticulate imbecile like Bachmann to a true Patriot and Statesman like Ron Paul is frankly disgraceful.

Mthson said at October 4, 2011 8:03 AM:

It seems like a problem that Ron Paul is 76 years old.

Since it's probably a safe bet that libertarians have the highest average IQ and net worth of the 3 major parties, why aren't there young, dynamic libertarian leaders on the national stage? For example, in Silicon Valley, there are hyper-intellectual libertarians like Peter Thiel.

Seems like the Libertarian Party should be grooming talented young libertarians (particularly women) for the national spotlight as part of their long-term strategy.

WJ said at October 4, 2011 9:01 AM:

Next-in-line for the Republican nominee is a good rule of thumb. Ecept Goldwater in '64 and Bush in '00, it works for every open election since at least Nixon in 1960. But it's not a gold-plated guarantee. Republicans can tolerate Romney, but only about 25% of GOP voters make him their first choice. They (we) are desperately looking for a better candidate - one who probably doesn't exist.

jerry said at October 4, 2011 9:52 AM:

But the rate of decline could be less under better management.

Ah, the Republican Party motto!

Mike M said at October 4, 2011 11:09 AM:

"Organic chemistry is not hard. It is a lot of memorization. But it does not require complex feats of logic."

Either you took Organic Chemistry in the old days of Morrison & Boyd or you never took it. The teaching of organic chemistry over the last 40 or so years changed from the rote memorization of a huge number of reactions to a mechanistic approach requiring less memorization, but more conceptual understanding and the application of logical principles and problem solving skills in assembling the building blocks into the desired compound. Hmmm, let's see.....using problems solving skills and principles to reach a desired result. Sounds like a useful skill set for getting things done.

"Someone who can simultaneously earn law and business degrees has a lot more intellectual octane and is more up to mastering everything a US President had better understand."

Lenin earned a law degree and Marx and a degree in economics. Education matters much less than principles, something Romney lacks.

solaris said at October 4, 2011 11:32 AM:

>"Lenin earned a law degree and Marx and a degree in economics. Education matters much less than principles, something Romney lacks."


Both Lenin and Marx had principles in spades. Hitler had principles. FDR had principles. George W Bush had principles. Obama has principles. There is nothing inherently wonderful about a political figure having principles, it matters what those principles are.

A "principled" politician is one who is going to do whatever his principles tell him to do, regardless of the opinions or wishes of the people who put him in office and regardless of the real-world consequences of his actions.

I would much prefer it if we had politicians who saw it as their job to reflect the will of the people."We the people" should be the ones with the principles - our politicians then reflect OUR principles. That is *supposed* to be how our system of representative government works.

solaris said at October 4, 2011 11:37 AM:

>"Since it's probably a safe bet that libertarians have the highest average IQ and net worth of the 3 major parties, .."


The fact that you believe that there are "3 major parties" and that the libertarians are one of them tends to undermine your claim about the "high average IQ" of libertarians.

Mthson said at October 4, 2011 1:25 PM:

Solaris, it's reasonable to summarize the most common political self-identifications as liberal, conservative, and libertarian.

Keep in mind that liberalism has a large low-IQ wing with its non-Asian minorities and laborers, and conservativism has a large low-IQ wing with its rednecks and laborers, but libertarianism has no such wing, receives no default social encouragement, and captures a disproportionate number of high performers and technologists.

WJ said at October 4, 2011 8:04 PM:

solaris +2. Well said.

Libertarianism is basically the right-wing version of communism. With communism it's nearly 100% government. With libertarianism it's nearly 0% government. Both ideologies have intelligent but fanatical followers who are well-versed in the principles of their ideologies, but never seem to have spent more than 5 seconds following those principles to their logical conclusions.

Regarding Organic Chem: at my university the two most feared classes of early sci/eng majors were organic chem and 2nd semester physics (electricity and magnetism). Perry's problem isn't that he failed organic chem. It's that he C'd and D'd practically everything else, inlcuding lots of easy stuff.

Mthson said at October 4, 2011 8:47 PM:

WJ:

Saying everyone who believes in less government believes in 0% government is like saying liberals are all communists and conservatives are all fascists or religious fundamentalists.

I get that there are people who actually believe those things, but they're not making useful contributions to the marketplace of ideas.

As Peter Thiel puts it:

The question is not whether we're going to privatize roads or prisons or the military or things like that. It's directionally, there's a directional question. Is there too much regulation, is there too much government, is there too little freedom? You can believe that the role of government should be reduced without going anywhere near the extreme point that it should be eliminated altogether. We have so much government in our society that you can reduce it a lot. Hong Kong's not really libertarian in the purist sense but from a 15 or 18 percent marginal tax rate, (going in that direction) that would be a very different country from what the U.S. is today.

In said at October 4, 2011 8:51 PM:

Lono brings up a good point. I've often wondered to what degree the actions/mistakes of our leaders reflect corruption and what degree reflect incompetence. There is certainly evidence of both. I'm leading towards incompetence being the bigger factor, that certainly seemed to be true of Bush (lets invade Iraq to spread some democracy!). I haven't been paying enough attention to Obama or any congressman to know. Anyone have insight?

Bob
Regarding Ron Paul, though his ideology is flawed, it is much more sophisticated and in touch with reality than any of the intellectually and morally inferior candidates I've seen campaigning. I will probably vote for him. I do not want Perry certainly and likely not Romney as well to be president and will not vote for them.

In said at October 4, 2011 8:57 PM:

Concerned Patriot
Herman Cain seems promising as a good candidate from what I've read on his positions. The one thing that concerned me is he seemed hawkish. But I really don't know.

solaris said at October 4, 2011 9:36 PM:

>"Solaris, it's reasonable to summarize the most common political self-identifications as liberal, conservative, and libertarian"


It's reasonable if you're a libertarian. If you're a progressive or a socialist or a communist, not so much. I believe that there are as many self-identified socialists in Congress as self-identified libertarians.

Mthson said at October 4, 2011 9:41 PM:

Solaris, there are many people in congress who identify with socialism, and there are likewise many who identify with less government.

solaris said at October 4, 2011 9:51 PM:

>"The question is not whether we're going to privatize roads or prisons or the military or things like that."

Why isn't that the question? Because Thiel does not want to have to defend libertarianism?


>"You can believe that the role of government should be reduced without going anywhere near the extreme point that it should be eliminated altogether."

You can, of course, but then you're a conservative rather than a libertarian.

Though I sometimes get the impression that libertarianism is an even more fractured and varied ideology than liberalism or conservatism, and that the "techno-libertarian" faction would be fine with pretty big government as long as that government fostered technological development. Ditto for the "life-style libertarians" and individuals freedom to do whatever they like (protected by the state). Ditto again for "big business libertarians" and their fondness for the state. But when I say "libertarian" I mean the old-school sort.

Mthson said at October 4, 2011 11:10 PM:

"Why isn't that the question? Because Thiel does not want to have to defend libertarianism?"

That's not the question for the same reason that the question about conservativism is not whether or not we should become a fascist religious dystopia. Feel free to attack Thiel for what he believes, but attacking him for things he doesn't believe seems strange.

"[Less government means] you're a conservative rather than a libertarian."

The difference between the "less government" advocated by libertarianism and conservativism is that for libertarians it's the highest priority, and for conservatives, it's mixed with social conservativism and high military budgets. What that mix means is generally large increases in government spending and the deficit under conservative presidents, so it's easy to see how that differs from prioritization of "less government."


With your level of intellectual maturity, I'm sure you'd agree it'd be childish to pretend that others are composed entirely of extremists, whereas those who share your beliefs have no excesses.

solaris said at October 5, 2011 2:34 PM:

>"The difference between the "less government" advocated by libertarianism and conservativism is that for libertarians it's the highest priority"

Did you even read the comment I left? The one discussing "techno-libertarians" and "life-style libertarians" and "big business libertarians"? For a great many people who call themselves libertarians, "less government" is not the highest priority. Thiel is one of them.


>"Feel free to attack Thiel for what he believes, but attacking him for things he doesn't believe seems strange."

What is strange about taking note of a self-described libertarian who does not believe in libertarianism?


>"That's not the question for the same reason that the question about conservativism is not whether or not we should become a fascist religious dystopia."

A fascist religious dystopia is to conservatism what communism is to libertarianism, so I don't see your point.


>"With your level of intellectual maturity ..."

Yeah, I'm familiar with your lefty style of debating, thanks.

Mthson said at October 5, 2011 3:44 PM:

Solaris:

1. Feel free to back up your claim with references that Thiel wants more government not less.

2. Feel free to attack people for their beliefs, not for things they don't believe. Maybe if libertarian leaders like Peter Thiel and John Mackey don't believe what you think they believe, it's not their fault.

3. Partisan simpletons say conservatives are all incoherent like Michelle Bachmann and KKK members like David Duke. The principled reply would be that everybody should take a stand against that those kinds of debaters.

4. Something we can agree on: God forbid people advocate intelligence and maturity. Best to reply with anti-intellectual attacks against anyone not ideologically identical to yourself.

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2011 10:23 PM:

Lono,

You are attacking a straw man, not what I said. Where did I say that Obama is dumb? I said he lacks experience managing lots of people and big institutions. His learning on the job as US President is costing us. Lots of very smart people do not know how to manage people. The US Presidency is a position that needs very strong management skills.

Mthson,

Libertarians are a small and shrinking minority.

Guys,

I'm not saying Romney's convictions and positions are great. We do not get to choose between good and great. We get to choose between bad and worse. Perry's worse, clearly.

Lono said at October 6, 2011 8:20 AM:

Randall,

No attack - I see what you are saying - however where you see incompetence in Obama's admninistration I see intention - an intention to serve his wealthy constituency - something that he is doing with great efficiency.

And - I have never seen as much interest in the Libertarian party - and Libertarian ideals - anytime previously in my lifetime. I am not sure why you would believe that Libertarian beliefs are decreasing across the population. If anything I believe religious fundamentalism is waning in its influence over the Republican party while Libertarian ideals are gaining influence there.

I think you (and the american people) are kidding themselves if they really think successful businessmen such as Romney, or Cain, will use their considerable management skills to serve anyone but the wealthy elite who are backing their campaigns.

Mthson said at October 6, 2011 1:40 PM:

"Libertarians are a small and shrinking minority."

That could be true; libertarians are generally white, and whites are a shrinking portion of the population. Let's look at the available numbers relevant to the question.

1. Ron Paul appears to be a major national figure, performing well in polls. Here are a few of his best performances, which seem difficult to dismiss as a moribund movement.

•On June 18, 2011, Paul won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll with 41%, winning by a large margin on Jon Huntsman, who trailed second with 25% and Michele Bachmann with 13% (Mitt Romney came in fifth with 5%).
•On August 20, in the New Hampshire Young Republicans Straw Poll Paul came again first, again overwhelmingly, with 45%, Mitt Romney trailing second with 10%.[24]
•On September 18 Paul won the California state GOP straw poll with 44.9% of the vote, held at the JW Marriot in downtown Los Angeles. Out of 833 ballots cast, Paul garnered the greatest number of votes with 374, beating his nearest competitor Texas Gov. Rick Perry by a wide margin.

In particular, Ron Paul's popularity among younger voters seems relevant to predictions of future voting patterns. Of course, this all doesn't mean he's likely to become president, and that's one of the reasons I began this thread suggesting a widening of the pool of libertarian candidates.


2. Atlas Shrugged, as always, is doing well, despite liberals' hatred of its message of self-reliance.

The sales of Atlas Shrugged have sharply increased in recent years, according to The Economist magazine and The New York Times. The Economist reported that the fifty-two-year-old novel ranked #33 among Amazon.com's top-selling books on January 13, 2009 and that its thirty day sales average showed the novel selling three times faster than during the same period of the previous year. With an attached sales chart, The Economist reported that sales "spikes" of the book seemed to coincide with the release of economic data. Subsequently, on April 2, 2009, Atlas Shrugged ranked #1 in the "Fiction and Literature" category at Amazon and #15 in overall sales.


3. The Tea Party has been a popular movement in recent years and is substantially libertarian.


4. General capitalist/libertarian/fiscal-conservative-but-not-social-conservative values are doing well in congress, with Republican party members often advocating lower taxes and less government.

Conclusion: I can't find a basis in the numbers for dismissing the validity of the "make less government a priority" crowd. It appears to be in strong shape.

Randall Parker said at October 7, 2011 7:39 PM:

Lono,

Obviously we aren't going to get an outright mercantilist in the White House until things get much worse and even then I doubt it. But we non-wealthy people would still benefit from having Romney over some dummy or fool elected as a Republican president. George W. Bush showed how much worse a Republican can be. I think Romney would be less bad than him by a considerable margin.

Mthson,

Are old folks going to vote for a Libertarian? No. Will women? No. I could go on. The California state GOP straw poll? The California GOP is in a coma acting much like a dead parrot.

WJ said at October 7, 2011 8:44 PM:

Aside from immigration (on which Romney is just BARELY better than Perry - Romney's website says nothing about illegal immigration, and make NO promises regarding enforcement# I think Romney would be better than Perry BECAUSE conservatives trust him less. The dumbest conservatives who take their cues more from style than from substance #Perry's Texas swagger, etc.) won't trust Romney on anything. He will perpetually have to re-earn their trust, and given the record of some "conservative" presidents in the recent past that would be a very good thing.

Mthson said at October 7, 2011 11:34 PM:

Randall,

I was surprised to find Ron Paul polled this year and in previous years as being evenly matched with Obama for the presidency (source).

However, Ron Paul doesn't even seem like a good presidential candidate in terms of intelligence, charisma, and masculinity, so a libertarian candidate (within the Republican party) who performs well on those measures would do even better. Of course, such a candidate would be smart enough to know to become a normal traditionalist conservative, rather than a super-competitive hyper-intellectual, so the votes of old folks, women, etc. wouldn't be a problem.

The only thing preventing that is that there aren't enough people in the world who are that intelligent and well-rounded, and that's why I'm saying libertarians should be grooming young people like that to go into politics.

Mike M said at October 8, 2011 8:27 PM:

Solaris, regarding your comment: A "principled" politician is one who is going to do whatever his principles tell him to do, regardless of the opinions or wishes of the people who put him in office and regardless of the real-world consequences of his actions. By your own definition, I stand by my allegation that Romney lacks principles. Rather, he says and does whatever he believes coincides with the opinion of the largest number of potential supporters - at least while he is in campaign mode - instead of what he really believes.


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