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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |


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January 16, 2012

Raw Political Ambition Nationally and Locally

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Why is it that partisan politicians constantly place their own aspirations ahead of their party's best interests?


Nationally, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich seems compelled to destroy former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by attacking his background as a successful venture capitalist. Forget that Republicans, as a political brand, strongly support the ideals of capitalism.


In fact, defending capitalism and free markets is a foundational pillar of the GOP national platform. It’s odd, then, that a high-profile Republican like Mr. Gingrich would frame an argument in a primary that would be so easy for President Barack Obama to exploit in the General Election. So easy, in fact, that the Obama campaign is actually focus-testing various political ads being run by the Gingrich camp in order to find the most successful way to undermine the Romney campaign in the November Election.


If taking out the incumbent president is the one thing that everyone in the GOP primary can agree on, why then assault a fellow Republican in a way that sets them up for attack in the general? It isn't like criticizing capitalism is the only exploitable aspect of Romney's past, either.


Mitt's frequent changes in positions on social issues is so dizzying that he ought to give out air sickness bags with his logo imprint.


And it's not just Mr. Gingrich who's handing cannon fodder to the Democrats. Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls Mr. Romney a "vulture" capitalist, hovering over the sick company waiting for it to die.


You can actually envision the Obama team writing that ad copy.


Forget that venture capital companies are responsible for some of the biggest success stories in American business lore. Being able to come in and assess what it takes to make a failing company succeed is a complex process.


Likewise, when a venture capitalist conducts his/her due diligence, sometimes the company in question has been so poorly run and managed that the only option is to divest the assets and close it down.


The way a venture firm works is that outside investors provide the funding for the analysis, repair or divestiture of these businesses. Pension funds, large investment banks, and substantial individual investors signal their faith in a venture firm's ability to do this well by increasing their own investments.


In the case of Mr. Romney's firm, Bain Capital, the record of success was so obvious that investors flooded Bain, comfortable with the shareholder returns. It isn't like Bain just shut businesses down, either. Staples was saved from certain corporate demise by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. Bain's roster or corporate rescues reads like a Who's Who, while the number of companies that had to be restructured and closed is much smaller.


In his rush to further exacerbate the disdain for wealth and success, President Obama and his team are sure to attack Mr. Romney's past. We'd expect that from a president who has never created a private sector job. One must attack that which they cannot begin to understand.


A Republican really ought to know better.


We don't have to look to national politics for examples of this unseemly exercise of raw political ambition. Right here in the Sixth Congressional District, we have our own little shameful display.


Del. Kathy Afzali (R., Frederick 4A) has decided that one full year and one special session in the Maryland House of Delegates qualifies her to run for the U.S. Congress.


Ignore the fact that she has basically a zero in the accomplishments category for her elected service so far, Ms. Afzali sees herself as the best Republican candidate for the seat presently occupied by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.


I'm glad she does, but that fact alone calls her political wisdom into question.


There are a number of candidates on the Republican side, including Joe Krysztoforski, who's been running for the last six years. Robin Ficker, a well-known anti-tax advocate, has also thrown his hat in the ring.


Finally, we have two other local high profile GOP candidates: incumbent Representative Bartlett and State Senator David Brinkley (R, Frederick/Carroll). It was these two that Ms. Afzali felt compelled to single out during her announcement.


She said that Dr. Bartlett had been in office a long time, and ought to "step aside" for the next generation of political leaders. She prefaced her remark with the old "with all due respect" comment, so I guess that makes everything okay.


In spite of the fact that I agree with her assertion, I couldn't disagree more with her logic. Dr. Bartlett should consider ending his run on a high note, but if doing so gets us Ms. Afzali, I hope he stays forever.


Her knock on Senator Brinkley is much less tasteful, and tells us all we need to know about her. She took the time to remind us all that Senator Brinkley encountered marital difficulties and has a "record that can be exploited."


First, we didn't need to be reminded, we know that. Now, assuming Mr. Brinkley is successful in his uphill battle to defeat Congressman Bartlett in the GOP primary, the Democratic General Election opponent will have the opportunity to re-exploit Ms. Afzali's original exploitation. Thanks, Kathy.


Whether it's Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, or Kathy Afzali, we just don't need Republicans so bent on their own political interests that they salt the ground under the feet of fellow party members.


Is obtaining higher office so important to them that they'd ignore the consequences of their actions in the General Election?


If it is, then it's time we send a message to these self-absorbed political ladder climbers. Not only do we resent your attacks, we question your judgment and therefore will re-evaluate our commitment to your continued service in political office.


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