If the U.S. Senate race in Georgia pitting Republican David Perdue against Democrat Michelle Nunn is any indication, the cliche "life imitates art" is accurate. The cliche "Seinfeld, the program about nothing" is not.
Perdue was given a four-year contract in June 2002 as CEO to turn around North Carolina textile manufacturer Pillowtex Corporation, which was facing cheap imports and was already in bankruptcy. Politico received a transcript of a July, 2005 deposition which was brought by creditors of the company who filed a lawsuit because, Politico reporters John Bresnahan and Manu Rajiv write, they "were unhappy with Perdue's leadership, including claims that he received financial compensation he didn't deserve. Perdue testified that the allegations were baseless, and none of them were ultimately substantiated by the lawsuit."
The 186-page deposition indicated, Politico found, "Perdue said he was hired, at least in part, to cut costs by outsourcing manufacturing operations overseas. Perdue specialized throughout his career in finding low-cost manufacturing facilities and labor, usually in Asia." The Georgian explained of his career
(At) Kurt Salmon Associates, some of my experience there was helping footwear companies develop the ability to import shoes from Asia, specifically Taiwan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Malaysia...
Later with Haggar Corp.- sorry, with Gitano and Sara Lee,, having lved there,I lived in Sngapore with Gitano and in Hong Kong with Sara Lee- sourcing was my primary responsibility in both of those locations...
I dealt with companies from Japan westward all the way to Kenya and Lesotho in Africa, Dubai,Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, all points west of Japan.
Perdue was expected, according to the deposition, to revamp Pillowtex's marketing programs and shift some of its manufacturing to lower-cost foreign factories. When he learned of approximately $40 million in unfunded pension liabilities, the CEO asked Oaktree Capital, the investment firm which owned some of Pillowex's debt and much of its stock, for $22 million or so.
Oaktree was not amused and after he was approached to jump to Dollar Tree, Perdue tried to restructure his deal with Pillowtex. Nine months after joining the latter company, its CEO jumped to Dollar Tree and within four months, Pillowtex closed and 7,000 jobs were lost.
But here is the money quote, or a portion of it. Politico concludes "Perdue has compared his tenure at Pillowtex to 'running into a burning building,' blaming the company's collapse on the pension problems and other factors beyond his control."
Perdue is running for the Senate by in part by portraying his opponent as being in league with Mideast terrorists. Only slightly more credibly, he not only did not destroy jobs at Pillowtex, he argues, but entered a "burning building" from which, he neglects to mention, he fled when he discovered the job would be difficult. It brings to mind George Costanza, played by the great Jason Alexander, and a YouTube video with the explanation
George, attending Robin's son's birthday party, cannot understand how Eric the Clown (played by Jon Favreau) doesn't know who Bozo is. Later George panics when a small fire breaks out and he rushes away, pushing down children, senior citizens, and the clown in the process. He tries to justify his behavior by saying how he acted bravely, like a "leader."