On the eve of primary voting, we are more or less clear about Ron Paul's racist newsletters and the Gingrich sexual and financial affairs, but less clear about the relationship between Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. As in the case of Paul and Gingrich, this too is an issue of the soul.
For starters, think "Pretty Woman" -- not Julia Roberts, whose livelihood was an open book, so to speak, but rather the character of Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere, whose job in life was to buy vulnerable companies, break them up into pieces, sell them for a huge profit and move on while workers lose their jobs in the process.
As we have learned now, Bain Capital is such a private equity company, buying struggling companies, breaking them up, laying off thousands of workers, and selling off the remaining pieces, if any. In a New York Times article, dated December 18, the relevant paragraph is this:
"Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he received a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals through February 2009: four global buyout funds and 18 other funds, more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left."
He is still profiting from the company he help to found and then left thirteen years ago and is paying only a 15% tax rate on the millions in capital gains.
In "Pretty Woman" Edward Lewis has a change of heart and buys into a struggling business to build ships for the Navy, thus saving his soul, along with Julia Roberts, with whom he flies off to New York to live (well) happily ever after, just as Romney left Bain to save a morally bankrupt Winter Olympics and then fly off to Boston and another life.
The question of saving one's soul came up in a Time.com Romney interview (Dec. 22) with Mark Halperin, who began the interview with a direct question about state of Romney's soul. The gist of the question was this:
"David Axelrod, who, as you know, works for the President, says that presidential elections are MRIs of the soul. That over time, in the course, particularly of the general election, the country gets to know the candidates [and that] ...over time the country will know the Republican nominee? Will know the President? Their soul?"
And what was Romney's evasive reply? After questioning Obama's birth and early life, he said, "I also think that a campaign is about an MRI of the economy and the record of the incumbent." There would be no personal soul talk from Romney, and indeed, it seems clear he is incapable of engaging on that level of inquiry. When pundits accuse Romney of having no "core" it is soul they are really referring to, and it is Bain Capital that is the outward manifestation of a lack of soul.
President Obama's soul-searching book "Dreams of my Father" reveals the depth of an authentic soul and the willingness to reveal those depths to the world. Can we imagine Mitt Romney writing a book about his years at Bain Capital and the search for an authentic self? Won't happen. In his ending to "Pretty Woman," Edward Lewis pays off Julia Roberts, breaks up another company and takes off to find another to break up, just as Mitt Romney, if elected, would break up America and sell of the pieces to the ever hungry 1%.