This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, the panelists scratched their heads about why Mitt Romney never seems prepared to answer questions. The case in point was an appearance in Florida yesterday when during an impromptu press conference Romney was asked how his budget differed from that of his running mate Paul Ryan. His answer waffled all over the place from a deflection to Obama’s poor economic record all the way to confessing he and Ryan hadn’t done a point by point comparison of their plans yet.
The question on the “Morning Joe” table was why, with adequate prep time, was Romney’s answer so inadequate? Mind you, this is not the first time this has happened. Romney has essentially been running for President for the past 7 years and has had more than enough time to shield himself from attacks about his finances. Despite that, his tax returns are still under wraps and his legal but still bad-politics off shore accounts are in full swing. Jon Meacham, a Random House executive editor, offered the following theory:
Is it possible that the culture of Romneyland is so managerial that they make decisions in a kind of clinical PowerPoint way and that’s their reality and to deviate is to somehow go off mission critical work? … But you would think new incoming data would require adapting to circumstances.
BINGO! Jon’s question did not get near the air time it deserved. It is indeed very possible that the Romney campaign is run with a corporate mindset. Jon’s assumption that new data would require adaptation ignores a persistent truth about big corporate America. In a big corporation, an executive makes a decision, often for purely personal or political reasons. His workers, separated from him by several levels of management tell him as politely as possible that his decision cannot be executed on time, under budget … or in any way at all. This new “data” gets lost in translation as it travels up the corporate ladder from worker to ultimate decision maker. More effort is made in confirming the executive’s idea than in realistically evaluating it. The result is that workers are told “just get it done”. Deadlines are missed. Budgets are blown. Workers are blamed even though they told the higher-ups from the get-go that the “idea” could not be executed as originally requested.
This is de rigueur at a big corporation. I lived it for almost twenty-five years. I observe it today through friends who work in the corporate world. A country cannot afford to be run this way. Jon Meacham inadvertently stumbled upon the folly of believing that all this country needs is a business man to right the ship. If Meacham is right about what ails the Romney campaign, and I think he may be, then that does not bode well for the Romney White House.
The United States of America is not a corporation and it cannot be run via PowerPoint.
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