The more things change…

…the more they stay the same. Here’s an article on Mitt Romney’s success in the business world. Those of you interested in business will hopefully find it as fascinating as I did. Those of you bored by the business world should click elsewhere. The key graph:

The episode highlights what would become the defining characteristic of Romney’s career as a venture capitalist—and later as a government executive. He was willing to pursue—and analyze—data that others wouldn’t bother to chase down. His dogged persistence paid off. During the 14 years Romney headed Bain Capital, the firm’s average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was a staggering 113 percent. At that growth rate, a hypothetical $1,000 investment would grow to $39.6 million before fees. Few, if any, VC firms have ever matched Bain Capital’s performance under Mitt Romney.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

15 thoughts on “The more things change…

  1. Geoff,

    I’m glad to see your site is back up. Welcome back to the blogging world. 🙂

    on Romney, I think few are going to look at his business practices when they’ve got so much meat to chew on, with what Romney said about gays back in 1994. Romney should have chosen Michigan to prep himself for a presidential run instead of Massachusetts….

  2. Yes, Dan – because no one in politics is ever allowed to change their mind or be nuanced in their politics (i.e. believe in equal rights for gays, but also think that gay marriage isn’t really a right).

  3. Let me put it this way:

    The thing about what Mitt said back in 1994 is much ado about nothing, since the only way the argument works is if it presupposes Mitt is never allowed to change his mind.

    I had the same problem when it was done to Bush, Kerry and Clinton. Unless there’s proof they are changing their minds on a daily basis based on random whims, it means little.

    Bush’s biggest problem is that he has trouble changing his mind, I think.

  4. So what influence will his business skills have on his ability to govern? To me, that’s the key. The recent track of record of successful businessmen who become admirable governors and then become horrific presidents, is not very good.

    If we’re going to bring up his business record, then *what* about his business record makes him a good presidential candidate?

  5. queuno,

    I think it would depend on how much the CEO…er…president is willing to hear dissenting opinions. The current president is horrible at listening and accepting the fact that he is wrong most of the time. Hurts a man’s pride to hear the truth.

  6. Ivan,

    The problem is that on an issue like gay marriage and gay rights, a moral issue, if one has one opinion one year, then ten years later has a totally different opinion, we have to question what he really stands for. What changed over the years? Especially when you look at WHERE Romney was in 1994 compared to where he is today. In 1994 he was trying to win a Senate seat in one of the most liberal states in the nation. In 2006 he is trying to win the hearts of the most hardcore conservatives in the South. The notion that he’s playing the crowd has validity. Where are his real standards, one must ask.

  7. Dan –

    I’m not following you. Ten yeas is quite a bit of time.

    It seems, like usual, you’re just not willing to give a Republican a break. If Mitt had changed his mind from a year ago, you might have a point. But I know that I sure don’t want to be held accountable for some things I said ten years ago. Heck, ten years from now I’ll probably cringe at some of the stuff I wrote in these blogs.

    You seem to want to hold Mitt up to an impossible standard. Very few people hold the exact same opinions they did ten years ago.

  8. I’m not a fan of Romney, but Ivan has a point. If the amount of time was shorter I’d think more of it. Ten years is a long time to change your views. Now if polls suddenly started coming out saying the South heavily favored gay marriage, and he reversed his position again next year, it would be a big deal.

    This seems a little like Republicans accusations of flip-flopping during the 2004 election. People change their minds.

  9. Ivan,

    I lived in Massachusetts when Romney was running for governor in 2002. I saw this double moral standard at play. I can’t give you specific examples, but ask anyone else who has lived in Massachusetts. They’ll probably tell you that Romney was playing both sides so that he would get the vote from liberals for governor, without pressing too far for his eventual run for president.

    Personally, and of course everybody is different, I haven’t changed my views much at all these past ten years, or even from 1994. I had a few moments there where my anger was rather extreme (especially in say, March 2003), but I wasn’t running for office and being careful and calculating about my points of view.

    Romney is a smart, sharp man. He’s been planning for a presidential run for a while now. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.


    This seems a little like Republicans accusations of flip-flopping during the 2004 election. People change their minds.

    Are Republicans done using this smear on Democratic candidates? Are they done with Rove? Please tell me yes.

  10. I hope so Dan, I hope so. I think they’re worshipping Rove less now, according to the Washington Post, Rove was still claiming a victory in the afternoon of the last election. I doubt Republicans see him as superman anymore.

    Now if you’ve seen Romney make changes like that overnight recently, that’s a problem. I’m just saying ten years is a fairly long period of time to require someone to keep the same views. My politics are more liberal now than they were ten years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more left in 2016. Of course maybe I’ll be more conservative and look back to 2006 in wonder. Have your views on anything in politics changed since 1996?

    I’ve said everything negative I can about Romney in the past, I don’t like the guy at all. I just think it’s dangerous to lock someone into their views at one certain point in their life. Right now we have a president that I consider a menace because he seems to have such a difficult time changing his mind, I can’t fault another man for changing his mind based on the knowledge he feels he has. I can take that claim and vote against him, but many will take it as a reason to vote for him.

  11. Queuno, #4, I think the article I linked should address your question. In the case of the Massachusetts health care laws he supported, he was basically a ‘solution wonk” who looked through the data and came up with a unique and politically palatable solution. I think Romney’s appeal running up to 2008 will be that he will look at the nation’s problems in the same way — with new eyes open to unique solutions. I think the fact that he was able to run Massachusetts without raising taxes is certainly a good selling point. I think there are advantages to having somebody run the country who knows how to administrate.

    None of this is likely to be convincing to the many Romney bashers who seem to haunt this site, but the purpose of this post is to look at one side of Romney that I think is significant: the successful business administrator side. As a businessman aware how difficult it is to successfully manage, administrate and bring in profitable revenue, I can appreciate that side of the potential presidential candidate.

  12. On the issue of changing one’s mind, I know a lot about this considering I voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and gradually changed my mind about him during the Monica scandal. I was saying very different things about gay rights and abortion in 1994 than I am saying now. People change. They learn new things, they have epiphanies. I am totally unperturbed about this issue.

    One of the things that in the end bothered me about Clinton was that he didn’t seem to have any core convictions: he seemed to go out and find what people wanted and then govern based on that. Hillary appears to be the same way. I don’t feel Romney is like that at all. He has core convictions but those convictions have changed and matured over time.

    If it is proven that Romney does not have any core convictions, that he he simply a political animal who will say anything to get elected, I would have a problem with that. But I don’t see any evidence of that at all. But it is certainly a good talking point for the Democrats, who are desperately looking for negative things to hang on Romney right now.

  13. Geoff,

    But it is certainly a good talking point for the Democrats, who are desperately looking for negative things to hang on Romney right now.

    Except of course, I hear about this from a conservative: Andrew Sullivan….

  14. jjohnsen,

    I really haven’t changed my views much over the past ten to fifteen years. I remember arguing with a friend of mine from church in high school about a woman’s right to choose. I remember liking Clinton in 1992 (though in the primaries I was rooting for Paul Tsongas to win). I know I didn’t like Bush (the father) all that much. In 1996 I was on my mission and didn’t pay attention to politics, but when I got back, I was definitely not a conservative (though I believe in family values etc.) So I really haven’t changed much.

    Of course we’re all different, and if Romney truly believed what he did in 1994 when running for Senate for one of the most liberal states in the Union, and then over the years realized his views were changing, then hey, that’s cool. The circumstances are very suspect. Play moderate to a liberal crowd and play conservative to a conservative crowd.

  15. Dan –

    Andrew Sullivan hasn’t been taken seriously by conservatives for about 3 years now. About the only people who say he’s still conservative are himself and liberals.

    Sullivan has decided everything is about gay marriage right now – even the war in Iraq. He’s accussed Bush of invading Iraq to distract from gay marriage. So, saying that Sullivan is conservative doesn’t mean much. Sullivan has become a Michael Savage-lite – the only reasons serious conservatives pay attention to him is because he’s constantly, viscously attacking other conservatives for not hewing to his bizarre ideas about conservativism (his use of the label “Christianist” to describe most anyone he disagrees with has become rather tiresome).

    But Sullivan is that rare conservative liberals like to quote because he provides nice talking points for the left.

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