Political Animal


May 29, 2012 9:00 AM More Bad Company For Mitt

By Ed Kilgore

It’s apparently not enough for Mitt Romney that he’s holding a Vegas fundraising event tonight featuring Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, just as the latter political werewolf is reviving his birtherist act.

Next up, in California, Romney’s doing a high-dollar event with everyone’s favorite failed political robot and job destroyer: yes, Meg Whitman! In case you (like me) have tried very hard not to think about eMeg since the last of her mind-numbing, soul-deadening 2010 gubernatorial campaign ads faded from the air, she’s been back in the news as the CEO of HP, doing what she does best: laying off employees. Here’s an assessment of her brief but destructive tenure at HP by SiliconBeat’s Chris O’Brien:

Listening to the Hewlett Packard earnings call was an exercise in the surreal today. CEO Meg Whitman started the call with a cheerful anecdote about some really neat-o gizmo she saw at HP. Just the sorta whiz bang stuff that’s gonna get HP back on its feet in no time!
She’s never been more optimistic about HP’s future! Gonna invest more in that innovation stuff!
Then she proceeded with all sorts of other happy talk about the business stabilizing and yada, yada, yada. And oh, by the way, to realign costs with the business we’re going to throw 27,000 people out the window.
[T]his has to be a crushing blow to an employee base already intensely demoralized by non-stop job cuts over the past decade. HP is not so much a company as it is a patchwork of acquired pieces of technology and companies, a kind of Frankstein monster of the high-tech industry.

Meg Whitman is to the technology industry what Mitt Romney is to private equity: an American Beauty Rose of “best management practices” that add up to a lot of misery and dysfunction. Romney could do a lot for the clarity of his economic message by just putting Meg on the ticket with him. Aside from all the many things they have in common, together they could pretty much self-fund the whole campaign if they wished. (Oh, yeah, sorry, forgot that Whitman can’t be on a national ticket because she is not, last time I checked, anti-choice!).

Newt, Trump, Whitman, on back-to-back days, just as Romney is officially nailing down the GOP presidential nomination. It has to be a nightmare for Romney’s staff. Don’t be surprised if they throw a few random punches to distract attention from the company their candidate is keeping.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Hedda Peraz on May 29, 2012 9:06 AM:

    Put her on the ticket, Mitt- and here's your bumper sticker:
    MItt & Meg- we LIKE firing people!

  • TR on May 29, 2012 9:09 AM:

    Poor HP. First Carly Fiorina drove it into the toilet, and now Meg Whitman is twiddling her thumbs.

    Which failed California Republican gets the next shot at leading this company to new lows? Pete Wilson?

  • Al on May 29, 2012 9:13 AM:

    Why do liberals have such a hard time with strong women? Last election they demonized Governess Palin. Now they are turning on Meg Whitman.

  • AMS on May 29, 2012 9:13 AM:

    John McCain gave Romney the perfect bumper-sticker slogan for his campaign: "The free enterprise system can be cruel." Good luck running on that one!

  • g on May 29, 2012 9:15 AM:

    Jeez, let's get some numbers! Between them, how many people have Meg, Mitt and Donald fired?

  • c u n d gulag on May 29, 2012 9:24 AM:

    Oh, and California Carly was on MTP defending Mitt's policies.

    Well, of course she would!

    She, Mitt, and Meg, have never met a disaster they couldn't make a profit from off the backs of other people - and by that, I mean the ones who actually did the work.

    These aren't "Vulture Capitalists."

    They're "Cannibal Capitalists," who, once they capture a company, cook the books, and strip off and take the meat for themselves, their family, and their friends, and leave the bones and other unwanted things lying around to rot.

    Hell, who care?
    Their bellies are full!

    "Cannibal Capitalists."

  • Elie on May 29, 2012 9:36 AM:

    These people have no ideas about managing -- much less leading anything. They are rough, wooden spoons, stirring the dough using ever less of the critical ingredients but trying to convince everyone that the bread still tastes the same...

    I tell you what though -- its not up to them to stop this bull. Its up to the American electorate and populace. Not the MSM. Not already elected officials. Not the corporate sector. The people. That is all.

  • stormskies on May 29, 2012 9:37 AM:

    "Creative destruction" anyone .............

  • Ron Byers on May 29, 2012 9:42 AM:

    Al's back. A sight for sore eyes. Glad you are posting again Al. Republican Point of View and Hedda Peraz have been doing a great job, but nobody beats the original.

  • james on May 29, 2012 10:35 AM:

    @Al. No problem with strong women. Serious problem with stupid ones.

  • Daddy Love on May 29, 2012 11:04 AM:

    Meg's tactics are nothing new in the technology industries. For example, in the 1980s a software company called Computer Associates went on a acquisition spree in which they bought up company after company with successful software products, gutted them, and then sold the products as short-term cash cows without any serious follow-up software development going on. They got huge and rich very fast. They go so big hat they're still around through sheer bulk, and have not stopped acquiring, because face it, with their business model they have to.

  • devtob on May 29, 2012 11:10 AM:

    Romney is also meeting with Sheldon Adelson today -- the gambling billionaire who spent $25M on Gingrich's loony campaign, whose Macau casinos profit from connections with Chinese organized crime, who is an anti-union zealot, who finances the Israeli ultra-right and its illegal settlements, etc.

  • boatboy_srq on May 29, 2012 11:48 AM:

    @Al - echoing James (10:35) - except I'd substitute "bats##t-crazy" for "stupid."

    Also @Al - GOVERNESS Palin? I wouldn't let her near my kids even if I had any. Or was that a commentary on a) the Alaska GOP or b) John McCain (in which case, shouldn't it have been Home Health Aide Palin?)?

  • boatboy_srq on May 29, 2012 11:51 AM:

    Now all Romney needs is appearances with Tony Perkins, Michelle Malkin and Maggie Gallagher and he'll be all set with the wingnuts. Here's hoping he achieves that in full view of the 73%.

  • Jim Strain on May 29, 2012 11:56 AM:

    Maybe it's not a fair comparison, since H-P was a much different company 40-some years ago, but their fortunes still rose and fell with the economy. Hewlett and Packard were both conservative guys (as the term was understood in those days), but H-P NEVER laid people off. If business slowed, they put junior engineers and technicians to work painting the buildings or sprucing up the landscaping. Though staunch Republicans, they did not "enjoy firing people." And just so we understand the inherent empathy of today's "free market," H-P's share price jumped up on the news of the impending massive layoffs.

  • Anonymous on May 29, 2012 12:20 PM:

    Oh, come on, you don't think, if eMeg were offered the Republican vice presidential spot, that she would jettison her "not anti-choice" position?

    Face it, she's an opportunist and a Republican.

  • jjm on May 29, 2012 12:36 PM:

    To Jim Strain: yes, Louis Menand's great article on Bain (reviewing several books) in the New Yorker recently noted that the STOCK PRICE of a company was never a basis for valuing a company until after Reagan. What mattered was the real worth of the company re: skilled personnel, intelligent management, understanding how to market their products, etc.

    Once stock price was the criterion, and quarter-to-quarter profits the key to 'value' for a company, the vultures came in and picked over the bones of once excellent companies.

    I recall in 1991 a chapter called "Cannibal Tours" that argued that capitalism would split in two, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and that cannibal capitalism would start to duke it out with the more traditional kind. It also argued that after the fall of the Soviet Union, capitalism would decide it no longer needed democracy. And indeed, I've recently read articles from capitalists arguing that the state capitalism model of China is far superior to ours.

  • meady on May 29, 2012 12:50 PM:

    With all due respect, HP has had a very long run of really bad CEO's for quite some time. Meg took the job because as awful a manager as I think that she is, there is no way she could come close to the levels of incompetence that have passed through the doors of the lobby of HP as CEOs. She looks to be a genius by comparison. Willing to lay off workers, all the better for her. Apotheker resigned before he had to do it. She doesn't really care about how it affects people, its a Republican badge of honor. Tighten our belts or whatever... Makes the economy look weak and of course it's Obama's policies that made her do it. Her as a VP select would be a stroke of genius for Romney, female devoid of any character or principles and would willingly fund the campaign with her own money. Win-win

  • Burr Deming on May 29, 2012 1:47 PM:

    Seems to me the least candidate Romney can do in return for Ms. Whitman's loyal support is to reveal to her the secret recipe for job creation in the private sector. You know, the same methods he will apply to public policy once he is elected.

  • JR on May 29, 2012 5:19 PM:

    First, Kilgore, I'm thinking of you and your family.

    As for Meg, I believe she's a fabulous example of the folly when top CEOs think they can run governments. What her ilk don't understand is that states don't run like corporations... You can't take office and start dictating what's going to get done. They forget that legislatures rarely operate like corporate boards.

    And let us not the lengths to which she'd go to avoid the press! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVSbeLx1Ad8