Remember that big-budget Hollywood movie about the powerful company that creates jobs, drives innovation, and gives millions to charity? Neither do I.
From Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street” to Edward Lewis in “Pretty Woman,” Hollywood loves to hate corporate raiders. And now, we’ve learned, so do many of the Republican candidates for president not named Mitt Romney. “Winning our Future,” a super PAC that’s backing Newt Gingrich, just released a documentary called “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” that assails Romney’s record as head of Bain Capital. It’s the kind of withering attack on private equity that makes the Daily Kos crowd cheer.
Romney has tried to respond by noting how many net jobs—“well over 100,000”—he created. And he’s also empathized with those whose jobs were lost. “Any time a job is lost it’s a tragedy,” Romney said today. “For the family, for the individual that loses a job, it’s just devastating. And every time that we invested in the business it was to try and encourage that business to have ongoing life.”
The underlying issue for conservatives is not whether Romney qualifies as a millionaire job creator—a “unicorn,” to use Senator Harry Reid’s term of art. It is whether conservatives stand for free enterprise—period—or whether they stand only for the soft and cuddly kind of free enterprise that they and Washington regulators can manage.
This is crucial, because even liberals concede that free enterprise is a great engine of wealth creation. But liberals and conservatives alike often regard it as a necessary evil—immoral for sure, amoral at best.
Romney tried to be philosophical about the impact of his record. “The reality is in the private sector, that there are some businesses that are growing and thriving—and we were fortunate enough to be able to be part of that in a small way—and there’s some businesses that have to be cut back in order to survive to try to make them stronger. Sometimes you’re successful at that and sometimes you’re not.”
For a guy whose book was titled “No Apology,” that’s weak sauce. But he doesn’t need to spend millions on a campaign film to defend free enterprise and rebut “When Mitt Romney Came to Town.” He could just buy time to run this YouTube clip of “Other People’s Money.” It’s one of the few Hollywood films that shows—perhaps inadvertently—the benefits, and even moral worth, of “corporate raiding.” It’s worth watching the entire 12 minutes.
Can you see the inevitable slogan? Romney to a deeply unemployed America: “I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend!”