First, I'd like to send a special thanks to those of you who tried to check-in with me during my five full days without power (likewise former Congressdog, Mick Cody, has asked me to pass along an extra loud bark-out to Bueller Cohen for his kind note).
In particular, I'd like to thank Edward Aloysius Moed, Matt Purdue, Nanci Tudish, Stafford Davis and Brian McGee for their VMs and text messages.
I'd also like to salute my 100 or so peers at Peppercomm who closed ranks and rallied to a degree that would have impressed even the fabled Battered Bastards of Bastogne. Note to my Millennial readers: you'll need to Google that one to appreciate the reference.
Last, and certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to my ever-trusty assistant, Dandy Stevenson, who literally served as my lifeline to the outside world during the blackout. Talk about a lifesaver. Wow.
And now, today's post:
If one were to believe the polls, fully 47 percent of registered voters believe Mitt Romney's past success as a businessman makes him better qualified to serve as our next president of the United States.
But, I'd be willing to wager a Bain Capital branded t-shirt that most of the 47 percenters haven't taken the time to study Presidential history to see if their belief holds true over our country's 236-year history. I have, and it doesn't.
Here are just a few examples of superb business executives who failed miserably after being elected President:
- Herbert Hoover was a multimillionaire who presided over the nation's slide into The Great Depression.
- Jimmy Carter grew rich as a Plains, Georgia, peanut farmer before being tossed out of office after four lamentable years.
- George W. Bush inherited his wealth, but certainly added to the coffers as an owner of the Texas Rangers. It's my opinion that W will rank alongside Harding, Grant and Buchanan as four of our worst presidents.
- Warren G. Harding built a newspaper empire that he sold in 1923 for half a million dollars (that's the equivalent of $6 million today).
Now, let's look at the flip side. Here are a few examples of god-awful businessmen who are consistently ranked among our greatest presidents:
- Harry S Truman's haberdashery tanked in 1922, leaving 'Give 'em hell' Harry destitute at the rather advanced age of 40.
- In addition to being a peripatetic lawyer and judge, Abraham Lincoln was the co-owner of a general store in New Salem, Illinois, that went belly-up and left our greatest President (my opinion) with debts that took years to pay off.
- Thomas Jefferson (as well as just about every one of our early presidents save Washington) died penniless and with huge, unpaid debts.
And then, as is the case with just about any subject, there are the exceptions:
- U.S. Grant was equally inept at business and politics. But, oy, such a general he was!
- Teddy Roosevelt grew up 'already on third base' as some have said of Romney, yet is consistently ranked among our greatest presidents. Ditto for his second cousin, Franklin. And then there's the Horatio Alger 'what if' case of James A. Garfield who, had he not been assassinated a few months after taking office, may very have become one of our greatest presidents ever (note: I urge you to read, 'The Destiny of the Republic').
The greatest Presidents are those who displayed vision, leadership, courage, compassion, conviction and, critically, a willingness to compromise to do what was best for the country at the time. Those are the qualities we should factor into our voting decision tomorrow (and not whether Bain Capital delivered a 20 or 25 percent annual profit during Mitt's stewardship as CEO.