In an unexpected funhouse mirror brought out on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, most of the Republican contenders condemned frontrunner Mitt Romney for operating with aplomb (and success) as a free-market capitalist! (This confused even their supporters.) These same contenders usually profess to want to see government disappear (the very government they are hoping to run, that is) so that, at least, business can operate unfettered by regulations and other infelicities designed (albeit often inefficiently) to protect consumers and citizens from mistreatment by corporate entities whose avowed purpose is profit, pure and simple.
That lack of friction is just what Romney enjoyed throughout his sparkling business career, as regulatory oversight went the way of predictable weather and wild salmon. Running Bain Capital, Romney was exceptionally, marvelously adept at profit—sometimes, alas, at the expense of superannuated American jobs that he was all in favor of superannuating, the sooner the better. At one point, Governor Rick Perry seemed as if he might chew off his own tongue, such were its contortions—doing something like yoga’s downward-facing-dog—while attacking the capitalist scourge in the lead. It was not immediately clear whether Perry’s teeth, being an essential element of his carnivorous Texan character, had gone into spasmodic revolt against the prodigal tongue, or whether the tongue tried to stop itself as it neared the edge of hypocrisy’s precipice. No matter: Romney looks more the bona fide Republican every day, despite past moments of weakness in Massachusetts when he favored making sure sick, poor people didn’t die from being sick and poor. His attackers are standing on somebody else’s boat, adrift. So Mitt Romney likes to fire people? Donald Trump likes to fire people too.