A certain former half-term governor of Alaska weighed in on Mitt Romney’s business background, telling Fox News last night that Romney (1) should offer “proof” of his dubious job-creation boasts; (2) release his tax returns; and (3) accept that his private-sector layoffs are fair game for campaign scrutiny, and that this does not represent an attack on “free-market capitalism.”
It is, to put it mildly, getting tougher for Romney to argue that only communists would dare question his ruthless greed and mass layoffs.
Indeed, it led Greg Sargent to offer a helpful round up of recent developments.
[L]et’s tally this up so far. There’s Palin. There’s Bill Kristol, who has said that “the unqualified defense of the virtues of Bain Capital “silly,” scoffing at the idea that “any behavior by a private firm” is an “assault on capitalism.” Newt Gingrich has repeatedly drawn a distinction between Romney’s Bain’s conduct and free enterprise writ large, saying Bain’s practices “undermine capitalism.” Rick Perry has slammed enterprises like Bain as “vultures” that eat the “carcass” of victims.
Frank Luntz has counseled Republicans not to defend “capitalism,” and to stick to “economic freedom.” Writers at National Review like Michael Walsh have been sharply dismissive of Romney’s efforts to sell his Bain conduct as “job creation.” The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis recently argued: “the fact that Bain’s business practices were both legal and productive doesn’t mean they weren’t distasteful and politically toxic.”
All of this, by the way, has come over the last week.
The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the opportunity, and put together this clip of criticisms from the right of Romney’s destructive path. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Don’t Just Take Our Word For It.”
To reiterate a point from Tuesday, let’s also not forget why so many Republicans are pushing this message: it works. For all the handwringing on the right about whether Gingrich, Perry, and others are carelessly bolstering the progressive message, the fact remains that Romney’s GOP rivals are going with the message they think will resonate with voters.
After all, it’s likely many of these folks, most notably the candidates, relied on polls and focus groups to identify the most potent message, and they all quickly found that this is the criticism that struck a chord.
For all the talk about this being a center-right nation, there’s a realization that Americans are uncomfortable with excessive greed and the kind of ruthless, screw-the-workers style of capitalism Romney used to get rich. If this discomfort didn’t exist, we wouldn’t see conservative Republican candidates using the argument to make appeals to conservative Republican voters.
At least on this issue, that puts Romney far to the right of the American mainstream — a problem that won’t be corrected with tone-deaf nonsense about class “envy.”