Facing new challenge, Romney stakes out fresh position

by Michael Bérubé on August 25, 2011

Deepinaharta, Texas—Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said today that if he should win the White House in 2012, his administration would seek to introduce legislation barring corporations from having abortions.

“Corporations are people too,” Romney said to a dwindling group of supporters who seemed to be distracted by a picture of Texas governor Rick Perry in a flight suit, “and they should be denied the same basic reproductive rights that I once supported and now oppose for people.”  Romney went on to say that people-corporations should enjoy the same tax and regulatory relief as corporation-corporations, “giving job seekers and job creators alike the freedom to innovate and to invest their money as they see fit.”

Romney did not respond to a question as to whether his administration would permit corporations to merge with other corporations of the same sex.

Romney’s announcement comes at a pivotal time for his campaign.  Confronted with polls that show him losing Iowa and much of the South to Perry, Romney’s advisors have suggested that the candidate needs to “take it to the next level” to avoid being “outflanked” among the Republican base.  “Just look at what Perry’s done in the course of a few days,” said one staffer who requested anonymity because he is thinking of leaving Romney’s campaign for Perry’s.  “He called Ben Bernanke a traitor, he suggested that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists involved in an international profiteering scam, and he promoted the illegal teaching of creationism in public schools.  That’s a trifecta plus a home run and a total game changer right there.  No question, Rick is on a roll.”

Even in the moderate wing of the GOP, all three remaining observers agreed that Romney will need to do much more to court socially conservative voters.  “The bar is much higher now,” said one of the three remaining moderates, who held out the utterly delusional hope that former Illinois governor Jim Edgar could still get into the race.  “Rick Perry has written a book in which he claims that Social Security is unconstitutional and that it spread like a ‘bad disease.’  Now [Florida senator and possible vice presidential candidate] Marco Rubio is going around talking about how Social Security has ‘weakened’ the US because in the good old days people used to rely on voluntary community support when they were old, sick, and broke.  How is Romney going to respond to that?  I don’t see that he has many options, unless he’s going to up the ante by telling the rubes that Social Security promotes the teaching of evolution, or that it’s responsible for the Supreme Court decision that took prayer out of the public schools, or that it subsidizes abortion and leads to gay marriage.  Where else is there to go?”

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Romney campaign suggested that Social Security promotes the teaching of evolution, that it’s responsible for the Supreme Court decision that took prayer out of the public schools, and that it subsidizes abortion and leads to gay marriage.

{ 62 comments }

1

Chris 08.25.11 at 8:29 pm

There’s plenty of places to post this sort of mindless partisan drivel on the internet. Do you have to do it on Crooked Timber?

2

Michael Bérubé 08.25.11 at 8:30 pm

Yes.

3

bert 08.25.11 at 8:33 pm

There’s plenty of places to waste your time making pointless complaints. Do you have to do it on Crooked Timber?

Whoever it is at the other end of your flightsuit link is right.
The obvious side-by-side comparison is here.
(Unfortunately, the only large format version of the photo I could find is hosted by Canadians, and is therefore inherently suspect.)

4

LizardBreath 08.25.11 at 8:38 pm

Where does Romney stand on the evolution of corporations from simpler, more primitive, forms of business organization like the sole proprietorship or the partnership? Does he believe that they came into existence spontaneously, selected by market forces as the most efficient form of business, or that there was some intelligent designer of the corporate form?

5

b9n10nt 08.25.11 at 8:45 pm

Corporations are spandrels!

6

Michael Bérubé 08.25.11 at 8:52 pm

Lizardbreath, the evolution of corporations is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. Like where did the “limited liability” corporation come from? Or what explains the gap in the fossil record between guilds and joint-stock companies? How old do I think the corporation is? I don’t have any idea. I think it’s pretty old. It goes back a long long ways. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long ago the corporation is.

7

Poicephalus 08.25.11 at 8:53 pm

I come to CT for Berube’ and Holbo, so preach it Prof.

C

8

Sev 08.25.11 at 9:05 pm

And when a corporation merges with another from the same family of origin (I’m thinking of Baby Bells here, which grew up and married other Bells) are there no implications of incest? Is this not scandalous?

9

Henri Vieuxtemps 08.25.11 at 9:06 pm

It is said: “In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was Corporation.”

10

Jay 08.25.11 at 9:21 pm

Also, too, Social Security is trying to gay-marry Obamacare.

11

the next Prescott Niles 08.25.11 at 9:24 pm

Honestly, I’m a little shocked that you forgot to affix the appropriate blind link to the phrase “Rick is on a roll.”

12

Bloix 08.25.11 at 9:28 pm

Romney also blasted Perry for allowing the PLLC, which he labeled a “lifestyle choice,” to be utilized in Texas.

13

lemmy caution 08.25.11 at 9:35 pm

I can’t get on Romney’s case for this. It is a perfectly reasonable in context:

Romney explained that one way to fulfill promises on entitlement programs is to “raise taxes on people,” but before he could articulate his position on not raising taxes, someone interrupted.
“Corporations!” a protester shouted, apparently urging Romney to raise taxes on corporations that have benefited from loopholes in the tax code. “Corporations!”
“Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney said.
Some people in the front of the audience shouted, “No, they’re not!”
“Of course they are,” Romney said. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”

It is the US supreme court that has the unreasonable beliefs about corporations being people:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood

14

ejh 08.25.11 at 9:40 pm

I come to CT for Bérubé’ and Holbo

And thanks to them, we now know that Mitt Romney and Megan McArdle are a couple of clowns.

15

Meredith 08.25.11 at 10:03 pm

Not sure (my study of Roman law and such is pretty rudimentary), but I think that the earliest, or at least most widespread, corporations in a western tradition of law were concerned with making sure that, when a person died, he got buried properly. Let’s pool our funds for burying one another! Let’s get together for pot-luck suppers (with plenty of wine) as we mark the time till that moment — when we can have another supper together!
I dunno. This scenario (whether or not it’s correct) makes me fond of the notion of a corporation.
Just hit me. Does Romney’s Mormonism play in here? Talk about corporations around the dead!

16

Gene O'Grady 08.25.11 at 10:27 pm

Meredith, What you’re thinking of are the collegia, which were to a large extent burial societies; on the other hand, they were also subject to constant surveillance and occasional suppression by the imperial authorities who tended to be suspicious of any kind of private organization that might foster dissent or (perhaps imagined) conspiracies. Membership in collegia often reflected shared professions or occupations (bakers, plumbers, etc.)

Don’t think the Mormon connection is too relevant, although the LDS have been known to claim that Brigham Young founded the first department store in ZMC. On the other hand, he quite definitely tried (without a lot of success) to foster a sort of communitarian socialism, as reflected in the name of the town where the United Order of Enoch was centered, Orderville. But contemporary Mormonism tends to try to hide that aspect of its history; I did get into the little Orderville Museum (there’s not much else left) about fifteen years ago, but that was set up by meeting a Jewish woman from Brazil who put me in touch with the keeper, who it turned out was LDS but from Northern Utah and hence less embarrassed about the place.

On burial societies, if you look at the large cemeteries in Western mining towns like Goldfield you will see that, while the Catholics and Jews (if present) buried by denomination, the other large masses of young men dead too soon and without nearby family were buried in groups by Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Masons, or other fraternal affiliation.

17

hartal 08.25.11 at 10:30 pm

My guess is that the concern about the thingification of persons and the personification of things has its roots in the outcry against dehumanization expressed in German Idealism (Kant, Hegel, Schiller, and Marx to the extent that he remained a German Idealist–see Bernard Yack, The Longing for Total Revolution). There seems to be a lot undercutting that nowadays–the philosophy of posthumanism, the anthropological rehabilitation of forms of animism (e.g. fauna, forests and rivers as persons), and the thing/actant studies of Latour and his followers.

18

Michael Bérubé 08.25.11 at 11:00 pm

I can’t get on Romney’s case for this. It is a perfectly reasonable in context.

Mr. Caution — if that is your real name — I am, alas, familiar with Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad and its vile progeny. But (a) that’s not what I’m really going after with Romney here (the final, shocking paragraph of the OP is really the key), and (b) even given this twisted-but-established reading of the fourteenth amendment, Romney still blew the explanation by saying not “actually, they have been understood as ‘people’ for 125 years of Constitutional law” but, instead, “everything Soylent Green earns ultimately goes to people. Soylent Green is people.” Or something like that, as you’ve indicated above.

Honestly, I’m a little shocked that you forgot to affix the appropriate blind link to the phrase “Rick is on a roll.”

What, is that some kind of Internet tradition?

19

P O'Neill 08.25.11 at 11:05 pm

The Social Security causes abortion thing sounds sufficiently Counterintuitive! that surely Slate or the New Republic could work up a supporting article from an, er, reputable economist.

20

Red 08.25.11 at 11:05 pm

But is there a death penalty for corporations? That’s the ultimate test of humanity, after all.

21

JP Stormcrow 08.25.11 at 11:08 pm

LB@4: I think Romney’s more of a, “On the veldt there were no corporate taxes.” kind of guy.

22

Daniel Lindquist 08.25.11 at 11:43 pm

“No question, Rick is on a roll.”

Uggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh.

23

mclaren 08.26.11 at 12:21 am

As Volatire remarked, at times like this one must either laugh or hang oneself. Three cheers for Berube for making us laugh.

24

Dave 08.26.11 at 3:04 am

I believe Voltaire’s remark, to be precise, was: “One must hang oneself.”

25

Michael Bérubé 08.26.11 at 3:19 am

Yeah, today this week this decade was very much a “should I hang myself” kind of day week decade. So I wrote this post instead.

26

bad Jim 08.26.11 at 6:19 am

This is probably not what Franklin meant when he said “We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.”

27

gocart mozart 08.26.11 at 7:38 am

Berube, if you still want a chance at the Republican nomination, you’re gonna have to be a hell of a lot more sillier than this.

28

Ginger Yellow 08.26.11 at 12:34 pm

Receivership is murder!

29

mds 08.26.11 at 12:51 pm

Receivership is murder!

Every filing of articles of incorporation is sacred.

This is probably not what Franklin meant when he said “We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.”

However, he might have appreciated the irony of “A republic, if you can keep it” being used ad nauseam by wingnuts hellbent on destroying said republic. Or perhaps he would have simply hanged himself separately.

What, is that some kind of Internet tradition?

Not that I’m aware of.

30

Ginger Yellow 08.26.11 at 1:05 pm

I hereby declare that in the event of bankruptcy, I would like my subsidiaries to be used for medical science.

31

Fred 08.26.11 at 2:44 pm

How about a 4 year ‘life time’ limit on Corporate Welfare, ie subsidies?

32

rm 08.26.11 at 3:37 pm

This is the first week of class at many universities. Kids, your pointy-headed professors may try to convince you that corporations evolved from pirate ship companies. Don’t you believe them. Hold fast to your beliefs; my grandfather didn’t climb down outta no pirate ship.

33

marindenver 08.26.11 at 3:51 pm

“Lizardbreath, the evolution of corporations is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. “

No kidding. I mean does anyone really want to believe corporations were descended from limited partnerships? You might as well say people were descended from apes.

34

ehj2 08.26.11 at 4:26 pm

Speaking of pirate ship companies (I know that’s redundant), this essay curled my toes and prompted me to go read the history of Manhattan. And then my hair caught on fire.

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2011/06/08/a-brief-history-of-the-corporation-1600-to-2100/

35

Colin Danby 08.26.11 at 6:00 pm

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/08/25/2011-08-25_giant_rat_killed_by_pitchfork_in_marcy_houses_is_believed_to_be_.html

How to view this entrepreneurial rodent, which stands to inherit Brooklyn post- earthquake and hurricane? Sign of the apocalypse, neoliberal globalizer, or evidence that teh American Frontier is not yet closed? How intelligently designed are its pouches? I want answers, and all I have are questions.

36

Dana 08.26.11 at 7:40 pm

That wikipedia article on corporate personhood is pretty much a giant clusterf*ck.

37

JP Stormcrow 08.26.11 at 10:02 pm

a giant clusterf*ck.

When Corporations Have Sex.

38

bcgister 08.26.11 at 10:03 pm

“’Rick is on a roll.’
What, is that some kind of Internet tradition?”

Internet tradition or not, having a link would allow the reader to answer some of the questions that this statement inevitably raises.
As some examples:
What kind of a roll is Rick on? Given his political stances, I’d expect it to be a Kaiser roll, but, without a link, there’s no way to tell.
Is Rick’s roll buttered and, if so, by whom?
If not buttered, perhaps it comes with shmear — a smear is perfectly likely from the Perry campaign, but, then, what’s being shmeared? If it’s being shmeared, even cream cheese need not be, “Too ethnic.”
Is all, or only part, of Rick on a roll? As I understand, the Perry campaign wants to leave some of the older parts of Rick out of the roll, but can we really get the full flavor of the man when we are arbitrarily presented with only selected tidbits? Or, does all of Rick have the same uniform flavor, like white bread or Spam?
As I hope you can see, the apparently simple phrase, “Rick is on a roll,” raises a great many questions which, internet tradition or not, could be helpfully addressed by the provision of a link.

39

maidhc 08.27.11 at 7:47 am

If you want to go back to the Southern Pacific Railroad, shouldn’t he have said “Corporations are octupuses too”?

40

Michael Bérubé 08.27.11 at 4:15 pm

bcgister, those are precisely the tough, hard-hitting questions the lamestream media (with one lonely, brave exception) is failing to ask. But I’ve recently been informed that there is indeed a video that might prove very embarrassing to Perry’s candidacy.

Go ahead, see for yourself.

41

mds 08.27.11 at 7:45 pm

Wait, have we just been Carlcurled?

42

Castorp 08.27.11 at 10:01 pm

I’m pretty sure that Corporations were created in the image of God.

Romney did not respond to a question as to whether his administration would permit corporations to merge with other corporations of the same sex.

That’s an easy one. It is Adam Inc. and Eve Inc. not Adam Inc. and Steve Inc.

43

JP Stormcrow 08.27.11 at 11:17 pm

And how many corporations will Obama leave to die after his Katrina devastates buffets the east coast?

44

Michael Bérubé 08.28.11 at 4:13 pm

Wait, have we just been Carlcurled?

Perhaps the most annoying Internet tradition of them all. And yet … strangely fascinating.

45

bcgister 08.29.11 at 12:12 am

Prof. Berube,

Thank you for the kind words for my letter.

A damning video of Perry (given his penchant for dressing up, perhaps it shows him in lace or leather?) would be a sweet end to his all ‘Muriken campaign — funny how many real ‘Murikens come from the lands of secession. Given what W got away with, however, I hope the video’s owner checks the kearning before they put it out.

As I’m ignorant of all internet traditions, could someone clue me in to what a “Carlcurled” is?

46

Michael Bérubé 08.29.11 at 1:10 am

As I’m ignorant of all internet traditions, could someone clue me in to what a “Carlcurled” is?

I believe you were here for the very invention of the form! Though I don’t see anyone here guffawing and high-fiving each other the way they did in the great Internet-tradition thread at LGM in aught-eight.

And how many corporations will Obama leave to die after his Katrina devastates buffets the east coast?

You joke, JP, but the fact remains that Obama never once tried to use the power of the bully pulpit to steer Irene out into open ocean.

47

mds 08.29.11 at 2:17 am

[Chortles while indulging in celebratory terrorist fist jabs]

48

Ralph Hitchens 08.29.11 at 3:22 pm

Anyone with an ounce of humanity can feel nothing but pity for Romney. As a governor he proved himself to be a sensible, businesslike fellow adept at the give and take of politics, but sadly he long ago hitched his political star to a wagon that is not going west but increasingly south.

49

Hogan 08.29.11 at 4:09 pm

What kind of a roll is Rick on? Given his political stances, I’d expect it to be a Kaiser roll, but, without a link, there’s no way to tell.

If it’s a smoked link, then it should definitely be a long roll.

50

spyder 08.29.11 at 7:30 pm

Could it be that Rick is not on a roll, but on toast, or is toast, or perhaps even a toasted bun?

And Romney’s silver spoon seems to be getting tarnished as it lays about on the beach in SoCal, waiting for a new roof over its head, as “Romney reportedly shrugged his shoulders.” He does seem to be enjoying his corporate welfare.

51

00001001 08.29.11 at 9:55 pm

Corporations may be people, but they are not headed to the Celestial Kingdom until they have been wedded to at least three Nephite maidens, and given issue by each.

52

ajay 08.30.11 at 10:19 am

Romney did not respond to a question as to whether his administration would permit corporations to merge with other corporations of the same sex.

More serious is the question of whether the New York Stock Exchange is unconstitutional under the Thirteenth Amendment. Heroes didn’t fight and die at Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the Wilderness so that people* could be bought and sold in a public marketplace.

*who are corporations, my friend

53

bcgister 08.30.11 at 10:39 pm

“Heroes didn’t fight and die at Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the Wilderness so that people* could be bought and sold in a public marketplace.”

True now, but is it true under Perry’s interpretation of the constitution? After Nixon’s southern strategy, the Dixiecrats were largely incorporated into the modern Republican party. Would such a pro-segregationist party really oppose a transaction that sooo clearly benefits everyone involved? Where else would corporations get food, clothing, a steady job and the kind of moral education fit for a child-like mentality that sees the world as arranged for its own good?

“I believe you were here for the very invention of the form!”

Thank you for the clarification. As long as it does not entail the risk of disemvoweling (Twas horrible to behold!) I am willing to share credit for the origin of this tradition.

54

Best Web Comments 08.31.11 at 2:53 am

Phenomenal comments in this post. Small round of applause for LizardBreath’s first comment on the origin of corporate species.

55

bdbd 08.31.11 at 2:38 pm

So Maiden Lane was sort of a late term abortion?

56

ajay 08.31.11 at 3:00 pm

Where else would corporations get food, clothing, a steady job and the kind of moral education fit for a child-like mentality that sees the world as arranged for its own good?

Well, it’s been argued that corporations are inherently psychopaths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation_%28film%29) and that would certainly merit keeping them in some sort of secure hospital arrangement, but I’m not sure that it justifies buying and selling them. You can’t buy and sell people even if they are mentally incapable.
By this analogy, are you arguing that malfeasance by senior executives – for example, misappropriating shareholder funds – is essentially corporate drapetomania?

57

bcgister 08.31.11 at 4:08 pm

“Well, it’s been argued that corporations are inherently psychopaths … but I’m not sure that it justifies buying and selling them.”

The point about the buying and selling of our corporate persons was made in the context of Rick Perry’s states’ rights reading (what’s now become known as the strong 10th amendment interpretation) of the U.S. constitution. Now, if that take on the constitution is nationally accepted, so that the states of the former CSA can choose to reintroduce slavery, the arguments against the trafficking in corporate persons lose much of their force as markets for our corporate citizens wouldn’t be legally distinguishable from the reopened markets for our citizens of color.

It is in that context that your point needs to be re-imagined. With a strong reading of the 10th amendment, is there, in fact, any justification for the national government to restrain the trade in corporate persons within a state because they are mentally unstable? For, as long as the trade remains within local markets, is not the regulation of the quality of the goods a concern of the state and local governments? Even then, given the widely known psychic deficiency of corporate citizens, and in the interest of avoiding unnecessary, nanny-state like intrusion into the private affairs of this nation’s Christian people, the need for statutes is debatable. After all, is this not the kind of issue that is best sorted out by the wisdom of the market?

58

Michael Bérubé 09.01.11 at 11:40 am

After all, is this not the kind of issue that is best sorted out by the wisdom of the market?

Is there any other kind of issue?

59

bcgister 09.01.11 at 9:09 pm

In the craven and reactionary recesses of my mind, I might say there are, but that is only because the personality disorder that I was socialized into fails to defer first to the consumer’s benefit and the salutary effects of greasing the palms of the job-creating producers.

60

S-Curve 09.01.11 at 9:17 pm

Now wait a minute: If corporations supposedly evolved from limited partnerships, how come there are still limited partnerships around? Huh? HUH???

61

kidneystones 09.02.11 at 12:08 am

Several weeks ago, I made the simplistic suggestion that our current economic malaise is the direct consequence of the US decision to invade Iraq. I also suggested that had George Bush leveled with the American public about the real cost of the invasion (three trillion plus), a plurality of Americans might well have decided to simply start using nukes in the Middle East. I also stressed my ignorance of economics, not out of any particular desire to be candid, but rather to emphasize the fact that any reasonably intelligent individual had to understand that shipping half the US army half-way around the world would cost considerably more than Cheney and company were ready to admit.

I just now read a review http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz142/English of Joseph Stiglitz’s Three Trillion Dollar War. I have not, of course, read the book. Who ever does?

It seems clear, however, that Stiglitz agrees that the economic crisis is the real price of an invasion many Americans were convinced would be almost free. My question several weeks ago, and again now, is whether Bush will be regarded as a “great president” for misrepresenting the true costs of an invasion of Iraq to the American people. We know that Bush was elected as more of an isolationist than an interventionist. My own belief is that a large number of Americans on both sides of the aisle would have been quite pleased to see several Middle Eastern or North African capitals go up in smoke post 9/11. But perhaps I’m not putting enough stock in the morality of American liberals. I’ll allow that sensible folks in such a discussion would rightly point out that the “real costs” of nuking Tripoli or Islamabad might be much higher than three trillion. I’m still persuaded, however, that many Americans would have opted from using US WMD against brown people in any target-rich environment.

Will historians credit Bush and Cheney for steering Americans away from such a discussion?

62

CSProf 09.02.11 at 8:32 am

@kidneystones this is probably the most ridiculous argument I’ve read all week. As far as I can tell, a plurality of the American people were against the Iraq war before a misinformation campaign started to persuade them of the “link” to 9/11, WMDs and various other lies. So, the alternative to the Iraq invasion at the time was … no war. Are you thinking of Afghanistan? The costs there are not nearly as staggering, and the public support higher throughout (although not high).

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