Romney And General Motors: Why Not?

The boss, JB, has made a serious substantive case as to why Mitt Romney ought to be given the chance to turn around General Motors. Why would Romney want to take on such an assignment?


Maybe because the chance to renew an American icon, preserve America's manufacturing capacity, and save tens of thousands of jobs would mean something to him. Maybe because it would give him a platform to demonstrate what an effective leader he can be. Maybe because, along the way, it would allow him to save the Republican Party by proving that it stands for something besides...whatever it is that it stands for right now

Some folks in the White House like to joke about the "2017 Romney inauguration" when they think about precedents. It is, to be sure, a little bit cute, but it's also an homage to Romney's status in the GOP. 
The government insists that it has no say in what GM does after bankruptcy, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where, if President Obama really wanted Mitt Romney to become the chief restructuring officer, the GM board wouldn't be able to make it happen.  Would Romney do it?  It would certainly eat in to his 2012 prep time, and it would sever some of the links he has made with conservative Republicans.  (It's not good to be seen as an Obama ally.)  But if Mitt, a.k.a, The Turnaround Specialist, the man who saved the 2002 Olympics, could save General Motors, he'd have an unimpeachable credential for 2016.   

I recall that one of Romney's most difficult problems in 2008 was the lack of a single phrase or idea that encapsulated his presidency.  Some of his advisers wanted him to stress his pragmatism and can-do optimism. But he never became the Turnaround Guy or the Health Care For All guy.  He was ill-defined and all other map. It became easy for his opponents, with an assist from the media, to turn him into a flip-flopper. What's Romney's One Big Thing for 2012 or 2016?  Might it be GM?
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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