What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

The Real Mitt Romney, According to his Bain Colleague, Ed Conard

August 30, 2012, 12:00 AM

It is hard to imagine a greater invasion of privacy than running for president. Not only must candidates submit their personal lives to microscopic scrutiny, the same is true for their families, friends and former colleagues. That was too much for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a rising star who decided not to run. On the other end of the spectrum is Newt Gingrich, who was so eager to run that he allegedly "bought off" his wife Callista with a luxurious trip to Greece and gifts of expensive jewelry. 

Of course, as we have pointed out previously, the president has the power to authorize Armageddon, so we don't propose the vetting process should be any more forgiving. However, American politics can also be very shallow. Once a candidate has passed the so-called Presidential Sanity Test, Americans also demand they pass this all-important character test: would I have a beer with him?

To put it another way, as Joe Klein told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, "the presidency is the most intimate office we have. They live in our kitchens. They live in our living rooms. We demand to get to know them." 

This has been a challenge for Mitt Romney, who is what is known as a resume candidate. He wants your vote because of his business experience. That might not be good enough. Currently Obama has a wide lead over Romney in the so-called empathy numbers

Some supporters have lampooned Romney for his reluctance to talk about himself, and hence define who the real Mitt Romney is. Experienced strategists have suggested a public makeover. "I am who I am," has been Romney's refrain. We elected a rock star, his argument goes, but what we need is a quiet, competent leader with solid business credentials. 

Politico summarized this contrast well: 

His language, his approach, his mannerisms convey: I am not asking you to trust me to see into your soul, or to feel your pain, or bring you hope and fuzzy change. I will bring you concrete, measurable, profitable change — the kind you can authentically take stock of, and even measure in your family’s bank account.

In order to make this argument, however, Romney will need to translate his experience as a businessman into an asset, rather than the liability that Democrats have tried to make it into. His success will depend on the way voters view Bain Capital. 

"Bain Capital will have to undergo tremendous scrutiny," says Ed Conard, a colleague of Romney's at Bain and the author of the recent book Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy is Wrong. "If he can’t survive that scrutiny," Conard tells us, "he won’t be the president." So far, Bain hasn't been mentioned at the Republican National Convention. 

Ed Conard would change that. 

Conard's book, with its defense of the economic elite, was dubbed "perhaps the most hated book in America" by The New York Times Magazine. And yet, Conard says he's not afraid of embarrassing his former colleague. "It would be unfortunate if we can’t have an honest conversation about what drives our economy and what would make it more successful in the future," he tells Big Think. 

So Conard's advice to Romney: don't be afraid of the scrutiny. Your resume is almost too good to be true, so just be who you are, with no apologies. Romney is an "outstanding business executive," Conard says, with a "deep understanding of business and how the economy works."

Watch the video here:

While Conard does not speak for Bain Capital, he was eager to defend the firm against Obama campaign ads that have been critical of Romney's dealings with Kansas City's GST Steel. Conard responds: "We killed ourselves to make that business as successful as we could possibly make it."

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


The Real Mitt Romney, Accor...

Newsletter: Share: