I've always been amazed at the Democratic party's ability, when life gives them lemonade, to somehow turn it back into lemons. This has nothing to do with issues and whether I support them or not. I support some Democratic party issues and I support some Republican party issues. Mostly, I'm annoyed by both.
No, this has to do with the incredible ability of the Democratic party to shoot itself in the foot strategically.
Today's example is one Jeffrey Zients, President Obama's nominee for the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Zients was previously employed by Bain & Company from August 1988 to June 1990.
You've heard of Bain & Company, haven't you? It's all over the news, because Mitt Romney worked there, and its offshoot, Romney's Bain Capital, has been the target of attack by every other GOP candidate in the primaries.
Let's take a moment to get some perspective. I'm sure Mr. Zients is fully qualified for his job and will make a fine OMB head. Bain & Company is filled with bright, capable people. I've worked with Bain people in the past, learned from them way back in the day, and most of them have impressed me with their overall level of clue.
One thing Bain & Company knows about is competitive strategy and one element of competitive strategy is to find both real and perceived weaknesses in your competitors. If Mitt Romney gets the nomination, his affiliation with Bain Capital will be a weakness. Quite frankly, having watched companies grow and fail over the years, I don't think Bain Capital did anything wrong. That said, America is really quite pissed off at bankers and the story the rival Super PACs are weaving about Romney and Bain is not good.
This not-good story could have been taken advantage of by the Democrats. It would have been a little sleazy, but they're politicians. Sleaze is what they're supposed to do.
But now, they've gone ahead and hired a Bain alum to be their OMB head (and that's right after hiring a former hedge-fund exec who made money off of mortgage defaults to be Chief of Staff). Now, with this former Bain hire on their team, there's no way the Obama campaign can attack Mitt Romney without getting some blast-back. They've effectively defanged one of their most powerful attack vectors.
This strategic foot-shooting practice is what baffles me about the Democrats. Mr. Zients might well deserve the job, but this is an election year. Why would you shoot yourself in the foot and give your opponent such an easy way to deflect one of your most powerful possible attacks?
I just don't get it.