Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Romney touts his business experience - but does it really matter?

Before Herbert Hoover was president, he was a successful businessman, and so popular for organizing humanitarian relief during and after World War I that both parties were hoping he'd run for office on their ticket in 1920. The historian David M. Kennedy, who wrote Freedom From Fear: The American People in the Great Depression 1929-1945, says Hoover was a "visionary" secretary of commerce under Harding and Coolidge, and calls him “the most accomplished and competent man of his generation." But, as Kennedy notes, the skills that made him successful in those domains didn't translate into his presidency; he didn't have what it took to grapple with the Great Depression.
“Not because he didn't understand the system," says Kennedy, “and it wasn't for want of knowledge about it. He wasn't pig-headed, or a moss-backed conservative. Hoover was more of a technocrat than FDR was." But it wasn't enough. “He understood a lot about policy issues, but working the Congress, working public opinion and the levers of the political system, were not his skills. They were Roosevelt's."
Romney's love for the private sector is beyond doubt. But as is the case with just about any relationship, love may not necessarily be enough.

by Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, December 2011 issue, p.38

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