A Job for Mitt

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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So Crazy it Just Might Work! From Nicholas Lemann’s election post-mortem:

Romney seemed to regard the tricky politics of the Republican party—an increasingly unlikely coalition of business interests and social-issue populists—as a problem to be solved. All that was just an obstacle on the way to his real goal, which was applying the lessons of a lifetime doing turnarounds to the federal government. [E.A.]

Another friend of mine told me he regrets Romney losing because he was looking forward to (I’m paraphrasing) “Bainiacs running around the Department of Labor.” … Which leads to a thought: Why doesn’t Obama put Romney to work making the federal government more efficient? The Romney Commission! Let Mitt’s Bainiacs scour the halls of government–‘You don’t really need that $80,000-a-year deputy speechwriter, do you?’–and then make proposals for where to cut, where to reorganize, how to get rid of the fat that’s marbled in.

Romney’s good at this sort of thing. There’s precedent for such a commission. It would make Obama look magnanimous and (what voters are said to want) bipartisan. It would be bipartisan. And if it actually did result in efficiencies would help validate the government that remains. (Meanwhile, it would defuse some of the well-justified reflexive antigovernment feeling on the center and right.) Even E.J. Dionne would approve. …

Obvious problems: 1) It would be a huge comedown for Romney.  So a) wait a few weeks and b) let him do it part time, while he devotes the rest of his day to whatever else he’s going to do with his life. But there is also some glory in it for him. … 2) Why give Romney power? He lost. Romney’s commission wouldn’t have the power to make changes, just to make proposals to the President and Congress. They would act on them, or not. …. 3)  Government unions would hate it: Not only would it threaten job security, but if it recommended systemic changes–e.g. making it easier to lay off unneeded workers or fire incompetents–they’d become the focus of debates for years, even if they weren’t implemented. (See Commission, Simpson-Bowles.) And Obama cares about annoying AFSCME and AFGE because he needs them to get reelected … not! What can they do to him now?  When it comes to education, Obama’s shown his loyalty to legacy labor is more a matter of temporary necessity than core belief. ….

Mickey Kaus