Published September 15, 2012
If you can stomach the schmaltzy plot, the hit movie “Pretty Woman,” starring two of Hollywood’s top stars, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, is worth watching because it provides some insight into Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tenure as head of Bain Capital.
Gere plays a very, very rich man who owns a company that preys on the misfortunes of others. Roberts plays a streetwalker who hooks up with the Gere character, and as they fall in love she forces him to acknowledge his humanity.
There’s a scene early in the movie that is instructive about companies such as Bain. When Roberts finds out that Gere is a multi-millionaire, she asks him how he makes his money. He replies that he buys companies that are in trouble, breaks them up and sells them piecemeal. What about the workers? she asks. His answer can be summed up thus: There are winners and losers in such propositions.
Romney’s time as head of Bain Capital has become an issue in the election, with Democrats led by President Obama accusing him of outsourcing jobs to China and other low-wage countries, causing undue pain and suffering for American workers.
Romney and the Republicans reject the Democrats’ characterization of Bain and argue that it has been responsible for the creation of companies such as Staples.
The war of words over the Romney-Bain connection reached a fever pitch when an ad put out by Priorities USA, a Super PAC, featured a worker who had lost his job and his health insurance when Bain bought the company and shut it down. The man’s wife subsequently died of cancer and ad suggested that Romney was responsible.
Romney pointed the finger of blame at Obama, even though the president insisted that his campaign had nothing to do with the ad.
Regardless of the legitimacy of the worker’s contention, the underlying argument about companies like Bain does warrant the attention of the voters.