I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Missouri GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence and Mitt Romney, who is sorta, kinda, occasionally, the leading GOP presidential candidate, have lots in common:
1. Spence is rich and Romney is rich (though to be fair, Romney isn’t just rich, he’s super-rich).
2. Given the newfound media concern about the growing financial chasm between the 99% and the 1%, both want to downplay that fact. Spence and his surrogates (i.e., Peter Kinder) emphasize the self-made millionaire angle. Ditto Romney – when he isn’t choking on his silver spoon. Who could forget Mitt’s stories about his days as an unemployed millionaire. Or the Mitt who’s qualified to feel our pain because he’s lived in the “real streets of America,” which he apparently confuses with the private streets in a spate of exclusive, gated communities.
3. Both Romney and Spence have what we euphemistically refer to as a problem with the truth:
— Romney has a particularly rich record in this regard. So much so that Steve Benen began keeping track of Mitt’s fibs on a weekly basis at the Washington Monthly; you can find some of those compilations here, here and here. Benen has continued collecting Mitt’s whoppers in his new job at The Maddow Blog, where he posts them each Friday (read the last two weeks’ worth here and here).
— Although he has been in the public eye for a much shorter time, Spence is no piker when it comes to concocting convenient narratives. We all know the story of his home economics degree by now, and we also know that, contrary to what he tried to imply, he meant to deceive and he’d been doing so for some time. If that isn’t enough, Spence’s effort to evade responsibility for the TARP misadventures of Reliance Bank while he sat on the Board of Directors – from which he profited handsomely – smells just about as fishy.
4. Both men like to brag that they have demonstrated that they have what it takes to govern because they were successful businessmen. Remember the last CEO who was elected president? A genial go-getter named Herbert Hoover who managed to dig the great depression even deeper with his conservative business management ideas.
As far as that goes, we’ve already seen that, in Romney’s case, running a for-profit didn’t translate that well into running a state. There are, believe it or not, differences between government and the world of finance. During his stint as Governor of Massachusetts, which was flattened by the 2001 recession, the state ranked 47th in job creation.
Whether or not Spence would do better is, of course, moot, but the ideas he’s putting out there on the topic of jobs don’t suggest that he’ll bring anything to the table that you couldn’t find by tapping any run-of-the-mill GOP hack.
So there you have it. Big-time presidential Tweedledum and (relatively) small-time gubernatorial Tweedledee.* A couple of millionaires who, now that they have time to kill after feathering their nest in the world of finance, want to feather their caps in the public sphere.
*Slightly edited for clarity.