I’d like to do a thought experiment with you. This is a good way to imagine how good a potential candidate for a job is based on past performance.
The question is never “look what happened while they were there”, but “look what would have happened without them.”
For instance, firefighters. Oftentimes, they don’t win, but merely contain the blaze. If you could count the number of people who died in fires when fire fighters were on the scene, I am sure you would be astonished. If you counted the amount of property damage that occurs after they show up, not just the damage they directly cause, but all the stuff that happens under their watch, I am sure you could come up with some fairly convincing statistics to make them look bad.
However, we don’t measure firefighters based on how many people died in the fires they fought, or how much property damage occurred. Instead, we ask, “What would’ve happened without them?” That gives us the true value of firefighters.
Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts during a time when the people wanted state-run health care and when the democratic legislature had enough votes to override Mitt’s veto.
Mitt had a choice. He could’ve run away from the entire discussion, vetoed the bill, then had it pass over his veto.
Or he could have tried to sabotage the people and their representatives, dividing factions one against another until the fighting got so bad that no political compromise could be reached.
Or, he could have joined in the scene and grabbed as much power and money as he could for his party and friends.
Or, he could have done what he did: brought the most reasonable, acceptable health care plan to the table, gently eliminating the worst parts of the plan, and setting Massachusetts up for as soft a landing as possible when they finally realized they don’t want state-run health care.
Mitt did not get everything he wanted in the final bill. But his mark is obvious. Some of the worst parts were completely eliminated. Some fairly intelligent ideas were added.
Mitt did not have a choice to stop the bill. This was impossible, for reasons I’ve outlined.
Rick Perry wants you to believe that Mitt thought up the health care plan by himself, then imposed it on an unwilling population with strong-arm legislation tactics. This is, after all, what Obama did.
To phrase the events this way shows a lot about Rick’s character. It shows what kind of president he will be in a disaster. (The disaster Rick faces is the all-too-likely fact he will not be nominated.) Do you want someone who doesn’t level blame where it is due? Do you want someone who doesn’t recognize the good work people do in disaster situations?
Ultimately, when considering Mitt vs. Rick, consider what would’ve happened without them, or with a different, more mainstream governor.
In the case of Mitt, Massachusetts would be bankrupt, the economy completely desolate. Without him forcing the legislature to balance the budget, and impose a semi-sane health care plan on the people, Massachusetts would be in worse shape than California.
The health care bill Mitt worked on is one of Mitt’s finest moments. He doesn’t back away from it because he can safely say, “Disaster averted.”
In the case of Rick, you can’t really point to anything positive he did that someone else wouldn’t have most likely done as well. With full cooperation from the house and senate, and with a freedom-loving population, you see Rick’s failures against a different background color. Rick’s gray appear black, while Mitt’s gray appears white.
By the way, what was the biggest disaster Rick Perry ever faced as governor? Was it the wildfires? Was it the national economy? You can’t really tell, because he doesn’t dwell on these things, even though these are the things that count. The worst disaster Rick Perry is facing is his nomination prospects, and his worry that the inside dealings may get recognized for what they were.
If I were the person in charge of hiring the next president, I would pick Mitt, every time, over Rick. I’d probably hire most of the potential candidate field, even names you’ve probably never heard of, before Rick. It’s the same reason I’d hire a firefighter who had countless buildings burn down, or why I’d hire a systems administrator who was on call when the servers melted, or why I’d hire a programmer who worked endlessly on a failing project. You have to ask, “What would’ve happened without them?” And if the answer, “It would’ve been a lot worse,” you know what kind of person he is.
In this time of uncertainty and disaster, I don’t think Rick brings anything special to the table. Mitt, on the other hand, knows how to work disaster, since that was his job, and that’s what he did in Massachusetts. He turned outright disaster into a much less disastrous disaster, brought stability where instability was obviously coming.