The Cruelty of Mitt-igation

May 29, 2012

Former presidential candidate John McCain knows a thing or two about cruelty. Short of water-boarding the country what could he have done worse than leaving us the legacy of Sarah Palin whose drip, drip, drip of inanity is actually worse torture than a daily dose of Sean Hannity.

The American electoral system can be cruel.

Sadly, McCain has not learned his lesson. In his effort to deliver us another dose of cruelty McCain has endorsed Mitt Romney as his party’s presidential candidate. Defending Romney’s stupendous money-making at Bain Capital McCain said On Fox News Sunday, “The only place in the world that I can recall where companies never failed was the old Soviet Union,” McCain said. “And yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel,” he added.

McCain’s matter-of-factness about cruelty may be an indication not only of his cold practicality, but of an easy acceptance of what one person or system’s cruelty may mean for others —which goes far to explain his choice of a person with the brain of a mama grizzly as his 2008 running mate.

That the free enterprise system can be cruel is obvious; but that’s not the issue —accepting its cruelty is. Capitalism is a human  construct and human’s have the power to dilute its cruelty. You might say that some try to mitigate it while others strive to Mitt-igate it: some find ways to lessen a system’s harm while others find ways to gain as much advantage as possible from it. Mitt Romney has made his choice.

Since the day I finally understood the degree of suffering caused by  the manufacture and legal distribution and sale of tobacco products I’ve loathed the individuals and families who’ve made, and still make, fortunes by hooking and poisoning people to the point of grotesque death. Yes, capitalism can be cruel; but there’s no justification to be found for its cruelty in McCain’s apathetic remark.

Communism can be cruel, too. Fascism can be even crueler. To say that free enterprise can be cruel is not saying much in the way of a moral argument. What a person does with an obvious truth is the mark of his or her character. To find a very particular way to make millions by leveraging a system’s potential for cruelty is not a skill or aspiration a decent nation should want in a leader. If people and their politicians are willing to accept the cruelty of capitalism how long might it be before they accept that of , say, fascism or any totalitarian alternative?

Mitt Romney, in so many of his comments and musings, has exposed such a degree of insulation from what ordinary people go through in order to maintain a modest standard living, that the collateral cruelty of what he’s done to amass his fortune is, for him, a non-issue. As  Tom Hagen said to, Tessio, in The Godfather as he escorted the betrayer to the car for his last ride, “It’s just business.”

Romney just oozes the eliteness of money. He can’t help himself because he knows and understands so little of what it’s like not to have a personal fortune.

Among the advantages Romney has realized from the cruelty of capitalism is the means to make it possible for his wife to drive, “…a couple of Cadillacs,” (although she presumably has to drive them one at a time just like any ordinary housewife drives her Ford or Chevy.

Ironically, Romney let everyone in on his wife’s good luck  in a speech in Detroit, The Motor City, whose high poverty rate was not something that crossed Mr. Bain Capital’s mind when he opposed the president Obama’s successful bail-out of the auto industry.

Romney’s even clueless when he’s trying to play down his big money. He’s clueless because he literally can’t seem to imagine anyone having less than he does. Talking around the issue of the release of his tax returns he wanted to make it clear to everyone that the incidental money he made from speakers fees was “not very much.”

It happens that Romney’s “not very much” was about seven and a half times as much as many Americans make in a whole year sweating.

Do we want a president who sees average Americans through the scope of  his Bain job buster; someone who picks-off jobs like Dick Cheney on a duck shoot?

Yeah, John McCain get’s at least this right: capitalism can be cruel; as cruel as any endeavor run by anti-empathetic, amoral Mitt-gators.

by Jim Culleny


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