Where Does It End?
The illogic of Obama’s attack on Romney.
Sep 3, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 47 • By NOEMIE EMERY
Boy, that Mitt Romney can screw up your life. Or possibly end it. To hear the left tell it, he is not merely a vampire and/or vulture capitalist, getting rich while leaving millions of people in misery, he is also able to give people cancer, at a distance of thousands of miles and after the passage of quite a few years.
We first learned of his powers way back in May, when the Washington Post ran a long—very long—piece about Mitt’s schooldays at Cranbrook, a posh prep school in Michigan where he led a posse that forcibly trimmed the long, dyed golden locks of a schoolmate, giving that schoolmate not only an unpleasant few minutes but laying a curse on the rest of his life. The piece does not say, but strongly implies, that it was largely due to the trauma of this experience that he was thrown out of Cranbrook (he was ejected for smoking) and led an itinerant existence living and working all over the world before succumbing to cancer while still in his 50s in a hospital in Seattle months before Romney, then a millionaire and a governor, was honored at Cranbrook’s graduation ceremonies with a distinguished alumnus award.
The story not only implied that it was unfair that the perpetrator of the affair of the hair was a millionaire and a governor and praised by the school while the victim of it died neither rich nor remarked on, but that the two events were interrelated: that a nonconformist had somehow been sacrificed so that an establishment figure like Romney could thrive.
The second instance of Romney’s unique voodoo powers came to light a few weeks ago, in an ad made by a liberal super-PAC that featured a man named Joe Soptic who seemed to blame his wife’s death from cancer on the fact that he lost his health insurance when Bain Capital closed his steel mill, that she became ill “a short time after,” went to the hospital with what she thought was pneumonia, was diagnosed instead with stage 4 lung cancer, and died two weeks later. But it turned out that “a short time after” was in 2006, five years after the plant closed and seven after Romney had left Bain for the Olympics; that Soptic was offered a buyout and chose not to take it; that his wife had her own health coverage for several years after; that he had the chance to buy his wife coverage and chose not to do so; and that while he suggested she had felt ill earlier and not sought treatment sooner because she thought she could not afford it, he does not quite say this, and she might not have realized how sick she was until near the end.
Challenged on this, Democrats say they aren’t blaming Romney exactly, just pointing out that he wasn’t quite sensitive enough to the impact upon innocent people that some of his decisions had. Said Bill Burton, who created it: “The point of this ad is to tell the story of one guy . . . and the impact on his life that happened for years” as the result of Mitt Romney’s doings. As Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, put it on Fox News, Romney “bankrupted companies, laid off workers, cut their benefits, and made millions of dollars. . . . That ad points out that there are consequences to actions like that that impacted people’s lives in a significant way.”
There are indeed, but this ad transgressed the bounds of all reason: It assumed that employers are directly responsible for the health, wealth, and well-being of all employees, not only during their employment but in perpetuity; and it suggested that the defects of capitalism stem directly from the will and intentions of Romney, and are his fault and his fault alone.
Capitalism, let us be clear here, has been a glorious thing. It has, as Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner tell us in City of Man, “produced two things that for much of history were regarded as inconceivable: a large middle class and intergenerational wealth-building,” lifted millions out of poverty, and enabled stunning medical and scientific advancements that have prolonged and enriched all our lives. “Free markets,” they say, “also go hand in hand with free societies [and] where capitalism has not yet taken root we find destitution, widespread misery and illiteracy and much early death.”
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