Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

I see that the mainstream press is starting to pick up on the idea that Americans rarely elect presidents whose primary identity is as a business leader. Here is Bloomberg’s David Lynch:

Since 1900, few former businessmen have made it to the Oval Office. The most prominent was the nation’s 31st president, Herbert Hoover, whose handling of the economy during the Great Depression cemented his reputation as a failure.

….“Our entire system of government is meant to preclude models and skills used in the corporate world, which may be why presidents with business experience are not our most successful presidents,” says Barbara Perry, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

Well, there are always exceptions, and maybe Romney will be one. But I have to laugh at this anecdote near the end of the piece. The setting is a Staples offsite board meeting:

“It’s after dinner. People are getting tired. Some directors are rolling their eyes,” [Staples founder Tom] Stemberg recalls. “Mitt was wide awake and he started to give us a little spiel.” Citing his experience with superlative management teams at corporations such as General Electric Co. (GE), Romney told the exhausted executives: You can decide to be mediocre or you can decide to be a great company.

With that, the division chiefs, who moments earlier had offered up easily reachable goals, began competing to promise the loftiest earnings. “He would get you to stretch,” Stemberg says.

Uh huh. I’ve seen meetings like that. It’s not exactly Hollywood-worthy when division heads try to lowball their goals and the CEO pushes back. In fact, I’d say that describes just about every corporate planning meeting ever held. And you know what? The CEO usually wins. Why? Not because he’s an inspirational genius who’s gotten everyone to “stretch,” but because he’s the CEO. In the end, the corporate VPs really don’t have much choice in the matter.

I dunno. I can’t say that I’ve seen much evidence of Romney’s inspiring side. Still, I suppose he might have one but just doesn’t waste it on us rubes. We’ll see.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate