You may have read about St. Louis businessman John Brunner, the chairman of health care products company Vi-Jon Inc., who is pondering a run against Claire McCaskill in 2012. Brunner has the advantage of being an unknown in a field of characters who are all probably too well known. However, if you’re interested in reading between the lines, Brunner’s announcement could be interpreted to indicate that he’ll probably fit right in with the GOP lineup du jour:
I’m very serious,” Brunner said. “We’ve got a fire raging here in our country and our economy. It’s going to take an additional level of character and competence to deal with the crisis.
Doesn’t that “fire raging” image suggest the apocalyptic hyperbole that seems to characterize the usual GOP response to issues that would almost definitely benefit from a more measured, pragmatic approach? Not to mention the hubris that allows Mr. Brunner to make the assumption that he alone has that “additional level of character and competence” that would allow him to play fireman and extinguish the flames.
Also, since I become very cranky when confronted by the perennial GOP assumption that running governments and businesses are the the same things, I was decidedly put off when Brunner declared, as if it was a brand new insight that he alone was bringing to the table:
What was true of my company is true of our country,” Brunner said. “You can’t borrow your way to prosperity, it takes competence and character, and the only true hope is returning to the basic fundamentals that got you to a good position before you got off track.
I’ll grant that there are some elements of competent management that pertain to most organizations, private, public, for-profit or not-for-profit. However, few of these business loving GOPer pols seem to understand that businesses and governments are different in significant ways. For one thing, they differ in their ultimate goals – achieving government goals often mandate a much wider set of approaches and skill sets and lots more flexibility than is required of the typical businessman. I hate seeing folks who think that because they are able to squeeze a profit out of a few narrowly focused activities, they are competent to insure the welfare of 300 million diverse Americans.
And since Brunner seems to think character and competence are so important – he mentions them twice – I wonder what it means about his character and competence that he has, in the past, showered dim-witted Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) with significant campaign donatons. Given this fact, I bet that his conception of those “fundamentals” that “got you to a good position” might arise from a very different view of reality than that of most students of 20th century history. Could be fun, though, watching Akin and Brunner campaign against each other.
I like to be fair, so I’m willing to wait and see on which side of the crazy line Brunner actually positions himself, but it doesn’t look too promising so far, even allowing for the fact that it’s the 21st century GOP we’re talking about. From this point of view, I understand why Politico‘s David Catenese thought the most important thing to emphasize about this relatively unknown potential contender is that he is a “self-funder.”