Monday, January 09, 2012

If The Dolls Could Talk

The WSJ had a devastating story today on Mitt Romney that’s sure to cast doubts even among the most virulent of Romney supporters like our friend the silver-haired radio shock jock Hugh Hewitt. The piece revealed that at time in the not so distant past, Mr. Romney liked to play with dolls. Or at least to invest in them (sub req):

Mitt Romney rarely got personally involved in individual deals toward the end of his time as chief executive of Bain Capital. But he was closely involved in a failed investment in a company that sold expensive dolls semi-customized to resemble the girl they were bought for.

Mr. Romney was brought the idea by a friend from Brigham Young University and Harvard Business School who was one of the original partners of the doll company, which was called Lifelike Co. and used the brand name My Twinn.

"As far as I can recall, Lifelike was the only investment that Mitt originated from his personal network," said Marc Wolpow, a former Bain executive. He said other Bain partners weren't enthusiastic, but "it was a small investment, so no one really seemed to care that much."

A couple of obvious problems come to mind here. Firstly, is this really a business plan that anyone thought could work? I can’t begin to imagine what the logistical challenges would be to try to manage the manufacture of dolls to look like individual children. The delivery schedule and costs required would seem to be a recipe for failure from the get go.

Secondly, isn’t the whole idea of making dolls that look like people (ordinary people) just a little bit creepy? From the Seinfeld episode The Doll:

(George, presenting the doll to Jerry, has his arms out in a 'tada' gesture. Jerry has on a disgusted face)

GEORGE: You see?.. You see?!

JERRY: Well, it doesn't look exactly like her.

GEORGE: Jerry, come on. If my mother keeps shrinking, this is exactly what she's gonna look like in ten years!

JERRY: Why don't you just get rid of it?

GEORGE: I tried! I almost threw it down the incinerator, but I couldn't do it. The guilt was too overwhelming. (Grabs the doll, opening the door to leave) Susan's so attached to this thing.
JERRY: Wait, where are you going? Don't take your dolly and go home...

Do we really want to turn the reins of the American economy over to a man who thought that lifelike dolls were a good idea? Seems like a serious question of judgment here.