SHORTCUTS

The Cape Coral News-Press has a piece on Craig Miller, an unheralded candidate for the Republican nomination in the Florida Senate race. I'd call it "interesting" if not for the fear of implying that Miller himself is worth thinking about for more than 30 seconds. What he represents, however, is telling.

1. Miller, owner of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain, touts himself using one of the more moronic phrases in circulation in modern politics: "I am a business person. That will trump a career politician in 2012. I am the only one in this race who has run a business." This line, a favorite of the Mitt Romneys and Ron Johnsons of the world, has always puzzled me. What is this supposed to mean? How does this make a candidate more fit to hold office? So you've run a business, Craig. Great. So has the guy who dry cleans your clothes. Should he be in the Senate too? Unsurprisingly, the Venn diagram of people who use this phrase fully eclipses those who think "Government should be run like a business!" Equally unsurprisingly, they all quickly discover that it doesn't quite work that way. I could see the analogy for an executive – maybe – but for a Senator? Yes Craig, the skills involved in opening a chain of steak restaurants is nearly identical to those necessary in the Senate. In fact being a Senator has been described by most who have held the office as "Much like being the owner of a chain of steakhouses."

2. He also touts his outsider status, which is nothing new. Running against Washington is a tactic as old as Washington. But is someone like Miller an outsider or simply an opportunist? One of the most prominent consequences of the Teabagging movement has been to catapult an untold number of complete yahoos into political prominence – Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Mike Lee, and so many more – without having to go through that pesky process of paying dues, making a name for themselves, and building a base of political support. Instead of outsiders, we have a bunch of people who see a shortcut to the top, a brief window of opportunity for crackpots to ride a wave of anger, ignorance, and resentment into positions of power. These people are a healthy mix of genuine lunatics – the kind of person you would avoid on the bus or at a party – and rich, arrogant assholes who know a crowd of suckers when they see one.

Very few members of Congress arrived with noble intentions, but this latest gaggle of businessmen-turned-Congressmen and crusaders against water fluoridation are even more crass than usual. The calculus appears quite simple: throw as much red meat as possible to the party base, sweep into office on a wave of anger and apathy, and spend the next X years lining your pockets and those of your allies while laughing at how easy it was.

POSTSCRIPT: And the punchline? "Miller’s tenure as chief executive officer of Ruth’s Chris ended in 2008 when he was forced to resign amid falling profits and tumbling stock prices."

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23 Responses to “SHORTCUTS”

  1. Americanadian Says:

    You can't hate on him, he's unemployed! Just like Mitt!

  2. Middle Seaman Says:

    We call that evolution: the lunatics replaced the patriots that replaced the anti-communist that replaced the segregationists that replaced the slave owners. It's the plant of the apes.

  3. Neal Deesit Says:

    A guy with steakhouse experience will know a lot about throwing "as much red meat as possible to the party base."

    Having run a business

  4. Neal Deesit Says:

    A guy with steakhouse experience will know a lot about throwing "as much red meat as possible to the party base."

    Having run a business – into the ditch – he's ready to do the same for his country.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    Miller should win.

    Then he can explain to the other politicians how to properly prepare porterhouse's of poor people, with all the fixin's – offered ala carte, of course.

    The difference between rare and medium-rare is a fine one.

  6. A Says:

    "Miller’s tenure as chief executive officer of Ruth’s Chris ended in 2008 when he was forced to resign amid falling profits and tumbling stock prices."

    He's not running for President because this would be tantamount to being impeached!

  7. Seth Says:

    To California's credit, they've been through this before and didn't elect Carly Fiorentino to the Governorship. Her credentials–

    1. Never held elected office of any kind
    2. Too fucking stupid to realize her positions didn't make any sense
    3. Bored and looking for something sadistic to do
    4. Tossed from last job for incompetence

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

  8. Monkey Business Says:

    I disagree that only career politicians should be elected to high office. The Founding Fathers were lawyers and jurists, but also merchants, farmers, teachers, musicians, and printers.

    However, there is one thing that they had in common.

    "These men were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more."

    Ultimately, it is not what a man does for a living that defines, him, but rather what he does. These Tea Partiers are the opposite of the Founding Fathers.

  9. buckyblue Says:

    We've got Ron Johnson and Herb Kohl here in Cheeseland as our senators. Neither one held office before becoming a senator, neither one was responsible for the millions their businesses were able to generate into their own coffers. While Kohl makes out as a moderate democrat (which was more pronounced when we had Feingold), Johnson is nothing but a lunatic teabagger. While we all hate politicians like lawyers, I never understood why people didn't recognize that there is a skill set that effective politicians have and can use. Why owning a business or making payroll will somehow qualify you for office never made sense to me. The knock on Obama is that he's never held a private sector job therefore he's not qualified for, what, a public sector job? Johnson is showing himself to be extremely adept at this point; he has become the third senator from South Carolina, leaving WI with only one.

  10. shouldbegradingpapers Says:

    Monkey Biz:
    I feel safe in saying that Ed ain't calling for career pols only! He's simply pointing out the Grade A stoopid "I's a businessman, so I's smarter" meme so popular among right-wing pols and their supporters, often from those fired or under investigation! He's questioning what makes the CEO better than the community organizer when elected to office because that is never addressed directly: "As a CEO, I have learned…Shut up, that's why!"

  11. xynzee Says:

    Ok let me see if my understanding of all that they taught me in Uni about business is correct.

    The sole purpose of a business enterprise is to turn a profit for its shareholders, yes? Therefore the shareholders expect a return on their investment, usually paid in the form of a dividend.

    Now We the People effectively become shareholders through our taxes, as effectively we're investing in said enterprise (many shareholders also purchase the products that the enterprises they invest in produce).

    So as a shareholder in said enterprise, I must ask, why the F—! are you trying to limit said enterprise's revenue stream? Why are you hamstringing R&D, and not making capital investments in new equipment?

    More importantly. Show me the money! Where are my dividends?! Why is it when you have a bumper year (ie a surplus), you don't keep increasing it? Again we come back to curtailing the revenue stream.

    Also last time I checked most business are interested in pushing any advantage they have to increase their market share. So why isn't said enterprise, doing so? Why isn't it pushing into power generation and distribution? Exploiting its advantage in healthcare, distribution channels, media outlets…?

    Damn it! I'm an investor in this enterprise and a whack of my income goes into this enterprise so I want my dividends!

    So now I ask, do these "business people" still see Government as a business? Cause if they do, they seem to have no idea of how to run one.

    Or perhaps maybe, just maybe, what they taught me back in the dark ages at Uni is correct. In that while the aims of Government and the aims a business are different, they're also hand-n-glove. While the main objective of government is to make an environment for business to thrive – ie civil order, regulations, road networks – that sometimes it needs to step in when business is unable to make a situation happen. Again, isn't investing in a public work creating an environment where businesses can function?

    Maybe I shouldn't write after a few glasses of red.

  12. John Says:

    It will never cease to amaze me how much success Republicans have running on the same completely nonsensical platform.

    "Down with the government! Elect me for government!"

  13. Robert Says:

    Reminds me of something Socrates was alleged to have said. If your child is ill, do you try to find the most POPULAR doctor or the most COMPETENT doctor? So, if you care about your polis, why choose leaders based on popularity? Or, to extend the metaphor, 'I've been a successful butcher for years – let me operate on your son!'

    Political office may be the only profession left where LACK of experience and training is touted as a qualification.

  14. acer Says:

    @Seth:
    Fiorina ran against Barbra Boxer for *senate*, actually, but you're correct that her credentials consisted entirely of running HP into a ditch. Meg Whitman ran for governor on the strength of taking over eBay and… basically her willingness to pour cash out of helicopters if that would help.

    They both lost. CA saw through the "maverick outsider" BS and resisted the teabagger mania. It was a rare piece of good news last November.

  15. acer Says:

    Craig Miller: Not a businessman. A business, maaaan.

    Aside from Mittens, these MBA guys don't seem to carry much water in national races. (What I wouldn't pay for a vintage Forbes '96 shirt.) Oh, but check out those Rick Scott approval figures – up to 35%, bitches!

  16. Ken Says:

    I suspect Miller would do well in the Senate, and even better in the House. Many of our legislators can be bribed by a steak dinner. Indeed, the petty venality of our elected officials is a recurring source of disappointment. If we must have graft, let it be grandiose in scope!

  17. Major Kong Says:

    Because the last "CEO President" worked out so well?

  18. shouldbegradingpapers Says:

    xynzee: Preach on, brother! (or sister?)

  19. acer Says:

    @Major Kong:
    Oh, yeah. That "Texas oilman" jerkoff. He was to business what Shaq is to acting.

  20. mclaren Says:

    C'mon, get a clue.

    What is this supposed to mean? How does this make a candidate more fit to hold office?

    Businessmen give and take bribes, intimidate people, brutalize the less fortunate, and savage anyone who gets in their way. That's perfect training for politics in modern-day America.

    Get with the program, guy.

  21. karen marie Says:

    "

    POSTSCRIPT: And the punchline? "Miller’s tenure as chief executive officer of Ruth’s Chris ended in 2008 when he was forced to resign amid falling profits and tumbling stock prices."

    Well, now, see, this is unfair. It wasn't Miller's fault business tanked under his guidance. The government kept getting in the way!

  22. pjcamp Says:

    More to the point, where is Ruth and who is her Chris? Or is Chris Steak a food, like Soylent Green?

  23. Carrstone Says:

    @ xynzee
    A 'Uni'-man like yourself surely knows that taxes are collected to pay for planned and approved government expenditures. Excess revenue should be returned to the tax payer but, whereas this may happen somewhere in the world, it is unlikely in the USA, given the current administration's level of spending – never mind the absence of a plan.

    Your dividends are the roads you drive on, the security you enjoy and all the other benefits and entitlements you enjoy. And that includes the freedom to write your reply, however silly, to this blog without the fear of punishment.

    Shareholders, besides appropriate dividends, expect the company in which they've invested to continue to be in business for the long term – if they don't, they're speculators. Am I right that's what you are as you're so focused on money and dividends? Or are you a citizen with a long term commitment to this "We the People' idea?

    Never mind, have another glass of red; it'll ease your blustering just as it probably has in the past.