Brace yourselves

Many have probably heard Mitt Romney's line about firing people.  Here it is in full (ish):

ROMNEY: I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep people healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.


This has some people jumping with glee.  It has others justifying (unfortunately) the context-free narrative-reinforcing interpretation, and maligning those who don't want to join in:

How did so much of the left descend into this kind of dickless navel-gazing? Because you know this is pretty typical of the tote-bag crowd. I’m glad Mike Royko isn’t alive to see all of this.

This was the response to someone's cautioning that Romney didn't mean he liked firing people while at Bain, when even by his own account he caused a lot of people to lose their jobs.

I'm (obviously) not a fan of Romney.  But I don't see any value in taking his claim out of context.  It lets him claim, truthfully this time, that his critics cannot be trusted.  Now someone might claim, plausibly, that he will say that anyway.  Nonetheless, it's still false.

Besides, there is a stronger criticism in its truthful interpretation.  Romney likes, as he claims, "being able to fire people."  That's a little bit like saying "I like being able to kill people in war."  It's a power people have, and you might think it's good that you have it, but it's not one you ought to "like" having.

5 thoughts on “Brace yourselves”

  1. I agree that there's no value in taking his comment out of context, and will go further by suggesting that it's an example of the type of dishonesty that makes it more difficult either to campaign honestly or for the average voter to correctly identify the important issues and the candidates' actual positions.
    In terms of the Balloon Juice dichotomy, I choose option 2 ("it's ridiculous") but have no reluctance to point out the facts behind option 1. ("It's fair game" – this is, in effect the "standard for quote doctoring" set by Romney himself.) When you're at the forefront of dragging the campaign into the mud, at least from my perspective, you don't deserve much sympathy when you get splashed.
    On your final point, I don't like to fire people, even when they do a bad job. I don't ever want to be at the point where I like firing people, and I would urge others to try to find a healthy point of balance between the extremes, but if you find yourself at one extreme or the other I think it's healthier to be at Romney's end than to let people walk all over you.
    The war issue takes the power element to its extreme, but I think you still need to consider what the other party is doing in order to make it an apt analogy. If the comparison is to firing somebody who is providing substandard service (they have control at their end, as well, and are coming up short), it seems more like killing somebody in self-defense during war. I wouldn't want to be happy to kill somebody in self-defense, save perhaps in the sense of profound relief that I was the survivor, but to most people it very much beats the alternative.

  2. Good points Aaron.  Romney is a seriel liar about his record and that of others.  He hasn't earned any charity.  Nonetheless. 

    I was in fact thinking of the self-defense/just war analogy; might make the same analogy with the police.  It's important that police have the obligation to use force when necessary; it's equally important they not like or enjoy it.

  3. Let's not forget the tenuous connection between having a consumer choice to "fire" your cell-phone company and a choice to "fire" your insurer. Usually, you are dissatisfied with your insurance when it won't pay for something you NEED TO SURVIVE. It is unlikely that another insurance company will be waiting with open arms to cover your brain tumor when your current provider is under-delivering.

  4. "It's important that police have the obligation to use force when necessary; it's equally important they not like or enjoy it."

    Why am I reminded of Anthony Burgess – Dim and Georgie, "reformed" and on the police force. If I graft that image, quite unfairly, onto your analogy, does that make Romney equivalent to Georgie? Or, noting the reality of "firing" your health insurance company when you need medical treatment as described by Jem and others, perhaps Dim? ("Don't call me Dim no more, neither. President, call me.")

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