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TheStreet Open House

Romney: It's an Inauguration, not a Coronation

So he wants to go to war with China, albeit without rockets and missiles. Wouldn't a trade war with China be an economic disaster for both the U.S. and the world economy, particularly at a time we are in the doldrums and Europe is struggling with sovereign defaults along its southern and western coastlines? Why do these guys always want to go to war with someone?

While each of these positions is troubling in their own right, when I consider them together (eliminating all the static inherent in a hard-fought primary campaign), something else emerges for me about Romney. It's something vaguely belligerent and perhaps even plutocratic -- something certainly not favorable to the 99%.

He's a 21st century free market imperialist.

What's that mean? It means that for him, capitalism is more like a game of Risk than a game of Monopoly.

Forget about his positions for the moment. The manner in which he speaks is also quite telling. Recently, he has talked about liking the concept of "being able to fire people who provide services to me." OK, so much of the media took that comment out of context. He was actually talking about health insurance companies. But forget the substance of the statement for a moment and reflect upon the tone.

He could have said "companies that work for me." After all, he famously told a heckler, "Corporations are people." But for Romney, and many folks who are in his former line of work, I imagine, people are often viewed as small moving parts of an economic machine. In this context, they aren't individuals who live in the United States or China. They don't have mortgages, student loans or credit card debt. They are cogs -- mere entries on a balance sheet that can be added and/or subtracted based on assessed value, though often somewhat indiscriminately. Things such as regulations and taxes don't affect people per se. They affect the manner in which those cogs function in the economic machine in which they exist. Indeed, often their individual needs are the bane of a Bain's existence.

Presidents have the power to persuade and influence, but not the power to behave -- or think or talk -- like kings or generals. And this is how I believe Mitt Romney has come to see himself and his role in the world -- not that he'd ever cop to it. I am reminded of George C. Scott playing Patton in the 1970 movie of the same name. In comparing himself to the knighted British general, Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, Patton says "Hell, I know I'm a prima donna -- I admit it. What I can't stand about Monty is that he won't admit it."

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