Who is Mitt Romney? He is Rick Snyder.
Many conservatives seem perplexed that Romney can’t make himself into Ronald Reagan. But he is not a career pol. He is a career businessman who sees government as a broken company that needs a turnaround. An eight-year turnaround. After that, Romney is on to the next challenge.
Just like Snyder who is currently right-sizing the Michigan “corporation.” One Tough Nerd is putting systems in place, paying down long-term liabilities, and so on. His trips to The Detroit News are remarkably devoid of politics-speak. As are his foreign trade missions (for one, he goes on missions to places like China because it’s good business -unlike his union-tool predecessor who sacrificed business opportunities to party politics).
Those following Snyder’s tweets from Europe this week will find them indistinguishable from, say, an auto CEO touring his European operations. This is in stark contrast to Granholm whose trade missions to PC places like Norway were all about “transforming” Michigan to a “Green Belt” economy despite “Big Oil and their Republican cronies.”
The downside of this lack of political ideology is that CEO pols like Snyder and Romney are easily wooed by fads. Both, for example, have dabbled in the rhetoric of climate change and sustainability because they think it’s good for the company image. Think Alan Mulally at Ford who talks green even as his company makes money hand over fist on gas-guzzling F150s. Folks want their carmaker to be good stewards of the planet. Cynical? Off-putting? Yes and yes. But at its core, it is marketing, not serious policy.
Which is why it’s crucial that CEO pols have strong career pols behind them – like Paul Ryan (Snyder has Jase Bolger and Chuck Moss) – to make sure such marketing doesn’t become public policy. Meanwhile, the CEOs relentlessly make their “corporations” more efficient.
In this age of debt and deficits, CEO pols aren’t a bad model. Romney and Snyder are in the right place at the right time.