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The business of being president
May 23, 2012 - Harry Eagar
Although Rick Santorum is gone, the GOP struggle for the presidency remains the greatest comedy show on earth.
Consider for a moment the contention that Mitt Romney deserves to be president because he is a succsssful businessman. (For the moment, disregard whether that is a fact or not.)
Bush II was, by any measure, a bad businessman. Yet the Republicans thought he was presidential material. The same old guard or conventional Republicans who are the mainstay of Romney's run.
Perhaps the Republicans had a change of heart after two terms of a business-boob president. Certainly, Bush II left the economy in the worst shape of any president since Hoover, who was supposed have been a successful businessman. (Disregard for the moment, whether that was a fact or not. Hoover, like Romney, made a lot of money. Whether he made it honestly or not is a question. Sir Robert Hart, the inspector general of Chinese customs, who was in a good place to observe Hoover, thought he was a crook. Hart's judgment is in his diary, published as "The I.G. in Peking," which to my taste is one of the most interesting diaries ever published. I doubt, however, anybody but me ever read all of it.)
Anyhow, this raises a curious dilemma for mainstream Republicans. Most mainstream Republicans I know think Bush was an excellent president. (Yeah, I know; but that's why we have elections.) So, how could they justify backing Romney only (or mostly) because he is supposed to have been a good businessman? If Bush II was good, then success in business ought to be a disqualifier, not a qualifier, no?
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