Takeover: Michigan governor announces he'll appoint an emergency manager for Detroit

Any volunteers for the second-most thankless job in America? Speaker of the House being first, of course.

Snyder said the city has not been able to solve its financial crisis and that outside help is needed. Today “is a day to call all hands on deck… to say there’s been too much fighting, too much blame, not enough resources, not enough people working together. The key answer I believe all of us want to get to is growing the city of Detroit.”…

The review team found Detroit’s cash-flow deficit is nearly $100 million. That’s on top of an accumulated deficit of $327 million. The city also has $14.9 billion worth of unfunded pension and employment retirement liabilities, according to the review team report. In five years, it needs $1.9 billion to begin making payments on the debt…

Greg Bowens, a political expert and former press secretary for former mayor Dennis Archer, said an emergency manager would be a devastating blow for the morale for the people of Detroit.

“In the end, it means the governor does not have the faith in the people of Detroit to govern themselves in a responsible manner,” Bowens said.

Why … yes, that’s what it means. I can’t believe there’s any serious constituency outside Detroit that would disagree, and Detroiters themselves would disagree only out of pure pride. The city’s a byword for terminal liberal sclerosis. How can this be a blow to their morale when their morale’s already reached this point? Look no further than their statuary to see that they’re desperate for a savior to ride in and impose order on a dystopian nightmare.

Snyder says he has someone in mind for an 18-month stint as emergency manager. But who? Who’s qualified to be the half-man, half-robot civic protector that Detroiters are dreaming of? Dave Weigel has the perfect cyborg for the job:

Romney’s got a mixed record as a politician, but nobody’s ever questions his skill as a brutal operator and turnaround artist. He’s got a good relationship with Republicans in the state—they even scrapped an electoral vote split plan in 2012 because they wanted him to win! He’s got a larger Rolodex of possible investors than anyone else who might be reasonably expected to take this job.

UPDATE: I’ve gotten some interesting email about this tossed-off idea, so I should reiterate: It’s not a joke! Any Michigan Democrat will tell you that Detroit politicians are among the most irrelevant in the state legislature. Republicans view aid to the city as good money tossed into a sinkhole. So butter them up with a Republican they know and can do business with. Romney’s ties to the city are tighter than most city emergency managers, roving technocrats who do a few years at a time in troubled metro governments.

Having a very prominent Michigan native as manager might make the idea of an emergency manager a little more palatable in Detroit. He is, as Weigel says, a renowned turnaround artist from his time at Bain and at the Salt Lake Olympics. He’s eager to regain a place in American politics too; this would put him back in the spotlight without having to worry about running for office. And Erika makes a good point: After being demagogued by Obama for his Detroit managed-bankruptcy op-ed, Romney might have something to prove. Two questions, though. It’s one thing to want to dip a toe back into policy, it’s another to jump hip-deep into quicksand. I realize Romney enjoys a challenge but is this really how this guy wants to spend his retirement, jumping from the agony of presidential defeat to the agony of trying to make Detroit sustainable again? I don’t know. Maybe; his sense of duty might force him if Snyder asks. Second, is a guy who’s most famous to liberals for being really rich, criticizing Obama, and dumping on the “47 percent” really someone who’ll be welcomed in Detroit? Snyder’s going to have to tread lightly here in imposing Republican management on an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Romney’s an odd choice in that regard, even if he’s willing to volunteer. But maybe Weigel’s right that a few whirls of that Rolodex and a few hundred million in investments from friends of Mitt will soothe things over. I’m interested to hear Romney on this. Maybe that’s what Chris Wallace meant when he teased about Mitt’s future plans.