I tend to stay out of the political fray and am a registered Independent.
BUT... I almost fell off my elliptical trainer Friday morning when I turned to Mitt Romney’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal: “What I Learned at Bain Capital.”
More specifically, it was his opening salvo:
“The back-to-school season is here, and as parents take their children to shop for school supplies, I suspect that many of them will be visiting a Staples store. I'm very familiar with those stores because Staples is one of many businesses we helped create and expand at Bain Capital, a firm that my colleagues and I built.”
My Memo to Mitt: You might have wanted to pick a different example.
Seen Staples lately?
While you’ve been out campaigning, Staples has turned into a shell of its former self. Yes, it was a great startup and for years, like America, ran as the best of class but (like America) fallen on hard times. (Read More: See CNBC’s Complete Election Coverage.)
Over the past two years, after peaking in the mid-2000s, shares of Staples have fallen 40 percent, while the S&P 500 has raced ahead by 30 percent.
While it was a great concept in its day, succeeding at the expense of wiping out local mom-and-pop outfits, the big-box office store concept appears to have run its course.
The good news: Staples has outperformed Office Depot and OfficeMax .
The bad: On almost every key metric it appears to be falling apart and struggling to find its way as competition from the likes of Amazon.com , and the demise of the personal computer industry, take their toll.
Sales and earnings growth have turned negative in a significant way, but more disconcerting: Once a big generator of cash flow, Staples is now barely eking it out as it struggles to stay cash flow positive. (Read More: Staples Cuts Outlook on Weak Global Demand.)
Sounds a lot like America these days. Maybe it wasn’t a bad metaphor, after all. (Read More: Presidential Election Fact Check.)
Questions? Comments? Write to HerbOnTheStreet@cnbc.com