The Meaning of Mitt’s Massachusetts Record

Romney campaigns in Mississippi: "I like grits!"

I’ve written a couple of posts about Mitt Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts. It’s a very poor record. I can’t seem to dig up the links to my previous posts right now, but I’m including two from The Boston Globe. I’ve also written about Romney’s cold and distant, almost robot-like behavior–as have a number of journalists–for examples see here and here.

As a citizen of Massachusetts who didn’t follow state politics very closely, I had a sense of Romney as a deeply amoral man, a user who only ran for office–first for Senator against Ted Kennedy and then for Governor–as a stepping-stone to the presidency. During his time as Governor, Romney turned Massachusetts’ already regressive income tax into a flat tax and increased fees so that the economic burden fell more heavily on the poor. His record on jobs was abominable, and the population in the state actually dropped as Bay-Staters went elsewhere in search of work.

It became a joke in the state that Romney was never around–he was always traveling around the country building support for his presidential run. After his one term in the State House (he was very unpopular and unlikely to win reelection), Romney moved on to greener pastures where he proceeded to criticize and mock Massachusetts in order to win favor with the right.

Yesterday, The New York Times ran an article by Michael Barbaro that I want to call to your attention. Barbaro (or his contributors Ashley Southall and Kitty Bennett) actually talked to a number of people who did watch state politics very closely during Romney’s governorship–other politicians, specifically state legislators. What they had to say only confirms my intuitive sense of Romney as a person.

He was aloof and distant–not unfriendly per se, but he didn’t care for schmoozing with other politicians. He saw himself as the CEO who could delegate responsibilities and didn’t need to reach out to legislators. He had the attitude that he could simply make a decision and that was the end of it. This anecdote is typical of many who spoke to Barbaro:

Well into Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts, a state legislator named Jay Kaufman developed a nagging suspicion: the governor had no idea who he was.

A committee chairman and a veteran Democrat in the State House of Representatives, Mr. Kaufman routinely waved to Mr. Romney from his capitol office, right above the governor’s parking spot. But when he crossed Mr. Romney’s path in the building’s marble corridors one day, his fears were confirmed.

“Hello, Senator,” Mr. Romney called to Mr. Kaufman.

Sitting in his office five years later, Mr. Kaufman still seemed wounded by the slight. “No name, wrong title,” he said. “Give me a break.”

Instead of compromising, he vetoed hundreds of pieces of legislation and then the vetoes were routinely overturned by the legislature.

On working with the legislature:

Even though he worked just a few hundred feet from them for four years, Mr. Romney displayed little interest in getting to know lawmakers and never developed real relationships with most members of the Democratic-dominated body, according to interviews with two dozen current and former lawmakers of both parties and members of the governor’s staff….

“Romney just didn’t want to deal with legislators,” said Robert A. Antonioni, a Democratic state senator and a chairman of the Education Committee during the Romney years. “Typically, the governor wants to have a productive relationship with the legislature. That is not something that happened with him.”

A number of politicians who were interviewed said that Romney could have accomplished much more as governor if he had simply deigned to show a little respect for the legislative body it was his responsibility to deal with.

Some complained that Romney disrespected them when he visited their districts–forcing them to sit withe the rest of the audience in the “cheap seats” rather than “front and center.” Other were shocked when Romney

personally helped recruit 131 Republican candidates to run against Democratic legislators in 2004, an unusual frontal assault against incumbents….The effort backfired. Republicans lost seats that year, and Mr. Romney earned the enmity of the Democrats he had sought to unseat, especially those who had supported his initiatives….When Mr. Romney needed their votes, Mr. O’Keefe remembers several offended lawmakers rejecting his request by saying, “Talk to the next guy.”

One of Romney’s decisions that most insulted legislators was when he blocked off one the elevators in the State House for his personal use–so that he wouldn’t need to ride up with legislators. His staff claimed this was done for security reasons after 9/11, which seems to me to be a pretty feeble excuse.

The overall picture of Romney presented by those who worked most closely with him in Massachusetts rings true based on my own observations and on the general reactions of the media and the public to Romney as presidential candidate. He appears to be arrogant, insensitive, ham-handed, and authoritarian. In many ways he resembles Barack Obama who has also be criticized for being distant with Congress. But Romney makes Obama look like friendly and approachable.

We’ve also seen that Romney will lie with a straight face no matter how often his supposed position on an issue changes. For whatever reason–probably daddy issues–Romney has always wanted to be president. But in my opinion Romney is not tempermentally suited for the job. We’ve already had two presidents in a row with daddy issues. That’s just not a good reason.

The only other reason I can figure that Romney wants the job is so he can make sure that rich people get a lot richer and poor people bear the economic burdens of the country. That’s what he did in Massachusetts.

There is no way this man should be president. If he doesn’t feel ready for retirement yet, he should return to the business world.


37 Comments on “The Meaning of Mitt’s Massachusetts Record”

  1. northwestrain says:

    Thanks for this insight into how Mittens governed in Mass.

    A couple of the descriptions ob Mitten’s behavior remind of the the detached CEO style that Prez 0 has demonstrated during his reign. Neither Mittens nor Prez 0 seems to bother to learn the names of congress critters and both tend to avoid them.

    Whomever wins in November — the next 4 years are going to be bumpy. Both Mittens and Prez 0 are committed to the status quo.

    Now the old school politicians make an effort to learn names and they build a network of friends. This was Clinton’s style as well as Johnson’s style.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I haven’t heard that Obama doesn’t know the names of people in Congress. Do you have a link for that? I agree that Obama also seems detached and said so in my post.

      • northwestrain says:

        I remember reading that in an interview — the reporter assumed that the Dems had been talking to the Prez on a regular bases. The Dem congresswoman said that 0bama had never called her and that he didn’t even recognize her. She was surprised that the reporter would think that 0bama would be close contract with the Dems in Congress. This very short exchange really stuck in my mind as an indicator of the sort of leadership or lack of leadership from 0bama.

        This reporter has covered Congress for ages and was used to GWB calling the GOP — drumming up the vote etc.

        I’ve been looking for off the cuff remarks from Congress critters — just to understand the dynamics of the Imperial Presidency and how they work with Congress.

        I’ll do a google to see if I can find one of the Interviews.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I have seen some growth in Obama. No matter how bad he is, he’s a million times better than Romney.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Billionaire Romney backer says “the ultrawealthy have an ‘insufficient influence’ over politics.”

    • northwestrain says:

      Typical politician — you know he’s lying — because his mouth is moving.

      Of course the ultra rich influence and will try to influence politics. THAT’s what these rich folk do. They buy politicians.

      Of course we could argue since Romney is richer than god — he can’t be influenced. Problem is even all the money in the world is never enough for this class of human.

    • NW Luna says:

      That quote would make a deadly attack ad against Romney!

  3. joanelle says:

    Gee BB, our current Gov, here in the Garden State, seems to have a lot in common with Mittens. But frankly, whom would you suggest in his place? Santorum scares the living daylight out of me, Newt is not fit to be dog catcher and Ron Paul…well.

    I know you just don’t want him to have the satisfaction of saying he got the nod to move on to the national election but I’m hard pressed to know what they can/should do at this point.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’d like to see Santorum win so the GOP would finally realize how far out of step they are with the country as a whole. If Romney wins and loses, they will just think they have to move further right. I can’t imagine Romney will beat Obama either though. I certainly hope not. Right now, as bad as he may be, Obama is all that is standing between us and feudalism.

      • Pilgrim says:

        You think a Santorum win would jolt GOP to reality???? Dream on….

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, I think a Santorum loss would make them realize they’ve gone too far right. He would lose as badly as Goldwater did. I don’t think anything will jolt them back to reality.

  4. joanelle says:

    Good point

  5. The Rock says:

    BB, you REALLY don’t like Romney, do you? 😛 I guess the politbureau, ie the DNC and the GOP, have determined what TYPE of person should be president and that is who we seem to keep getting.


    Hillary 2012

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, I don’t like Romney. And Obama isn’t that much like him other than the fact that they are both somewhat aloof. Obama had the support of Wall St. in 2008, but not this year. Romney comes out of that culture. Obama didn’t. Frankly I don’t care whether I *like* a president as much as I care what they *do.*

      I happen to think (based on past performance) that we have a better chance of keeping a safety net in place with Obama and we less chance of ending up in another war with Obama.

      • The Rock says:

        There is real shame in always having to pick the lesser of two evils.

        Hillary 2012

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, and I’ve been having to do it most times I’ve voted. I willingly voted for George McGovern and Bill Clinton. Other than that I’ve never liked any of my choices.

  6. Pilgrim says:

    I’ve just finished Jodi Kantor’s book, “The Obamas.” The word “disdainful” pretty much describes Mr. Obama in her portrait. As I read Boomer’s characterization of Mr. Romney, I kept thinking how it resonated with Kantor’s Obama. Boomer feels Obama, although he is a disappointment, is a “million times” less disagreeable than Mr. Romney, and that’s her strong opinion and she certainly has a perfect right to it. I don’t yet have a fully formed negative opinion of Romney. He wants to be president; most presidential candidates do. Time will tell what the American people are prepared to settle on.

    In Kantor’s book, nothing Obama has ever done has been worthy of his wonderfulness, a point made by his friend Valerie Jarrett, and in Kantor’s skilful portrayal it appears increasingly that the presidency has also let him down, and one is left to wonder when he is going to find the thing that is worthy of him. There is there the faint suggestion that “that elusive dream” of his may come to be manifest after he is done with the disagreeable task of being president, but as I say, one really must wonder how that could work itself out since, for most mortals, the past is prologue.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think Romney is less disagreeable than Obama. I think he will be better than Romney on taxes and the economy. I also find Romney’s statements about war in Iran and especially nuclear war to be terrifying.

      • Pilgrim says:

        Sorry for mischaracterizing, somewhat, what you said: “No matter how bad [Obama] is, he’s a million times better than Romney.” I must be more precise. Obama “a million times better than Romney” …. that puts a finer point on things.

      • Pilgrim says:

        and let us hope that Mr. Obama does not yield to Lord Netanyahu’s pressure to go to war against Iran. When it comes to that, our best hope is the Israeli public opinion.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t know about Obama, but Mitt Romney has made it clear he wants that war and he wants to use nukes. That’s enough for me right there, leaving aside his horrendous economic policies.

  7. Pilgrim says:

    What statement has Mr. Romney made about nuclear war?

  8. peggysue22 says:

    I have a sour attitude on both the Republican likely [Romney] and Obama [who in my mind has broken and will continue to break every Democratic principle out there]. All these candidates owe their souls to corporate America,the banks, the powers-that-be, which means they will not work to change a damn thing for ordinary Americans [the middle-class], who have and continue to suffer economic ruination. Without a middle-class, we’ll become a two-tiered system–the guys on the top and everyone else, scratching for crumbs.

    That’s just not okay with me.

    I hate to repeat myself but the difference between the Republicans and Dems at this point is death by hanging [a quick neck snap] and death by poison [slower but the end result is the same].

    We’re caught in a no-win situation.

    The only worse-case scenario for me would be a Santorum win [the man actually makes it to the WH]. I don’t see this happening. But if it did that could be nightmarish because Santorum is a small, mediocre man and a religious zealot. Historically, that mix never comes to a good end.

    Ugh! A pox on all their Houses.

  9. Pilgrim says:

    Mr. Romney is wrong, of course, to say as he does there that Mr. Obama’s re-election would guarantee nuclear war with Iran. He doesn’t seem to suggest it’s what he himself is advocating.

    People say such wild things. Primaries do this to some people. Santorum wanting to “throw up” over JFK. But…hmmm….I kinda think Santorum really means the things he says. May the land be delivered from such a one. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Big win in Kansas. Isn’t that where they had court cases on creation and evolution — years and years ago — and of course evolution lost.