Paula Broadwell at Harvard — “Self-Promoter”

From “Broadwell fell short of aims at Harvard,” Callum Borchers, Bryan Bender, and Tracy Jan, Boston Globe:

One of Broadwell’s former professors at Harvard described her as a self-promoter who would routinely show up at office hours.

“It was very much, ‘I’m here and you’re going to know I’m here,’ ” said the professor, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of ongoing investigations. “She was not someone you would think of as a critical thinker. I don’t remember anything about her as a student. I remember her as a personality.”

The professor said when Petraeus chose Broadwell to write his biography, there was shock among the national security faculty at Harvard because “she just didn’t have the background — the academic background, the national security background, or the writing background.”

Mitt the Cry Baby

Mitt’s campaign is insisting that WaPo retract its story from last week asserting that Bain specialized in helping grow companies that offered job outsourcing services to other U. S. companies.  They have demanded a sit down with the Post!

Meanwhile, President Obama is running ads in swing states saying we don’t need an “Outsourcer in Chief.”  Amen to that.

Mitt is whining that we “little people” don’t understand the difference between “outsourcing” and “offshoring.”

That’s a distinction you might make in a Harvard Business School paper, but if Mitt thinks that argument will help him win the election, he’s more trapped in his 1% bubble than I thought.

Mitt the Viking

I may not have an MBA from Harvard, but I know this isn’t right:*

“For example, after Bain acquired Ampad a paper products company, in 1992, the company grew through a series of acquisitions.  Sales jumped, but its debt climbed to nearly $400 million, and it found itself squeezed by ‘big box’ office retailers.  It filed for bankruptcy in 2000.  Bain and its investors walked away with a profit of more than $100 million on their $5 million investment, on top of at least $17  million in fees for Bain itself, according to securities filings and investor prospectuses.

“A similar phenomenon unfolded with DDi, a Bain-owned, circuit board maker that expanded aggressively in the late 1990’s.  Sales soared, but so did its debt.  The bursting of the tech bubble forced it to scale back.  It filed for bankruptcy in 2003.  The gains for Bain’s investors easily exceeded $100 million.  Bain also collected more than $10 million in fees.”

Whatever happened to Bain’s companies, it was always heads, Mitt and Bain won; tails, Mitt and Bain won.

To me, Mitt and his merry Bain band were a bunch of marauding, looting Vikings, pillaging what and where they could and leaving misery in their wake.

Mitt looks down on us “little people,” because he thinks if we were as smart and hard-working as he is, we’d all be rich too.  He sees us as inferior.  But what he leaves out of that equation is that some of us lack his ruthlessness and wouldn’t have had the stomach to deprive people of jobs and health care and pensions as cold bloodedly as he did.

I said he’s a Viking.  Maybe I should have said he’s a reptile.

* “Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm,” Michael Luo and Julie Creswell, NYT

Mitt’s 2012 Playbook from 2002

Over at Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin has an excellent story (“How Romney Used the Same ‘Rubber/Glue’ Strategy in 2002”) about the history of  Mitt’s plan to turn President Obama’s accusations right back on him:


“Mitt Romney quickly established a knee-jerk ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ response to Democratic attacks in the first days of the general election, recycling attacks against his own campaign to paint his opponent as a flip-flopping, Harvard-educated rich guy who wants to end Medicare.   As it turns out, it’s a strategy he’s used to success before.

“Back in 2002, Romney’s gubernatorial opponent, Shannon O’Brien…accused Romney of profiting off layoffs at companies bought by Bain Capital.  Democrats were confident it would be an effective attack — after all, Bain’s layoffs were widely credited with helping derail Romney’s 1994 Senate run.  Romney’s response this time, however, was devastatingly clever:  Accuse the Democratic ticket of — you guessed it — profiting from Bain’s layoffs.”  Italics in original.

Sarlin goes on to quote at length from a 2002 article in the Boston Herald.  The whole thing is worth a read.

The Truth Inadvertently Revealed

Every five years (coinciding with class reunions), Harvard sends alumni and alumnae The Red Book, updating the lives of their classmates in their own words.

From “Between the Lines of Harvard’s Red Book,” James Atlas, NYT:

“But the main thing is to compare, the thing we do reflexively to define our own achievements.  Who’s happy, who’s depressed?  Whose children turned out great, whose are still ‘finding themselves’?  Who’s rich, who’s not.

“The hardest thing of all is to know what you actually feel.  A sometimes ghastly mix of covert self-congratulation, awkward confession and wry philosophizing undercut by heavy-handed irony, Red Book prose can be an exercise in confessional self-concealment.  What often emerges, after several throat-clearing paragraphs, is that life has not invariably been so good, whether the author knows it or not; and it’s that feature — the truth inadvertently revealed — that makes these thick volumes so horribly fascinating.”

It’s All Harvard’s Fault!

Campaigning today, Mitt said that President Obama “spent too much time at Harvard.”

Both Mitt and Obama got their law degrees there.  But Mitt also got an M.B.A., which takes an extra year, so he must have spent way too much time at Harvard.  But maybe he was protected by his magic Mormon underwear, which Muslims aren’t allowed to wear.

Why isn’t Mitt complaining about the time Supreme Court justices Roberts, Kennedy, and Scalia spent at Harvard?  They also got their law degrees there.

What Part of “E Pluribus Unum” Doesn’t Mitt Understand?

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I find Mitt annoying, very annoying.

He’s done it again, telling a radio interviewer in Alabama that the South “is a bit of an away game.”

How can someone with this attitude be running for president of all the United States?  You can’t consider parts of the country “away,” we’re all one people.  They’re all home games.  If spending some time in Alabama and Mississippi is so alien to him, what’s a summit with Putin going to be like? 

There’s something too constricted and limited about his comfort zone that I believe disqualifies him from leading us.  He can’t identify with vast swathes of Americans based on how much they earn or where they live.  He doesn’t move easily in the wider world.

On December 7, 1941, no American thought Pearl Harbor was a bit of an away game.  It was felt as an attack on Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, every city and town in America.

Ok, Mitt doesn’t remember Pearl Harbor.  But he remembers 9/11 and Katrina.  After 9/11 the school children of Louisiana raised money for a new fire truck for New York City.  That truck, the Spirit of Louisiana, escorted by fire trucks in each state it passed through, at one point 100 trucks in Mississippi, arrived in New York in December 2001, after a stop at the White House.

In 2005, after Katrina, the Spirit of Louisiana went back to New Orleans, leading a convoy of 15 NYFD trucks and 400 firefighters.

Somehow, Mitt doesn’t get this, what school children get, what firefighters who don’t have law and business degrees from Harvard get.

And his use of “a bit of” reminded me so much of Poppy Bush asking for “just a splash” more coffee in a diner.  It didn’t go well for Poppy in ’92.