I agree that the awfulness of Romney’s policy proposals is the main argument against his candidacy. But the Bain focus isn’t a diversion from that issue, it’s complementary. Given the realities of politics--and of the news media, as I’ll explain in a minute--any critique of Romney’s policies has to make use of his biography.Meanwhile, author and Democratic strategist Robert Creamer opines that Slick Willard’s evasiveness about his business background makes him “unfit for the presidency”:
The first point is that voters are not policy wonks. They do not go to the Tax Policy Center website to check out distribution tables. And if a politician cites those distribution tables in his speeches, well, politicians say all kinds of things.
Nor, alas, can we rely on the news media to get the essentials of the policy debate across to the public--and not just because so many people get their news in quick snatches via TV. The sad truth is that the cult of balance still rules. If a Republican candidate announced a plan that in effect sells children into indentured servitude, the news reports would be that “Democrats say” that the plan sells children into indentured servitude, with each quote to that effect matched by a quote from a Republican saying the opposite. ...
So running on the real policy issues by itself isn’t going to work. By all means, run on the real issues--but do so by creating a narrative, a pattern that registers with the public.
And Romney’s biography offers a golden opportunity to do just that. His policy proposals amount to a radical redistribution of income away from the middle class to the very rich; he’s also being highly dishonest about budgets and just about everything else. How to make those true facts credible? By associating them with his business career, which involved a lot of profiting by laying off workers and/or taking away their benefits; his personal finances, which involved so much tax avoidance that he’s afraid to let us see his returns before 2010; his shiftiness over when exactly he left Bain.
You could criticize the biographical focus if it were being used to convey a false impression of where Romney stands, but that’s not what’s going on here; instead, it’s being used to get the truth about the candidate past the noise and the media barrier. The truth is that the Obama campaign would be doing the American people a disservice if it didn’t make the most of Bain.
Romney’s refusal to be held responsible for the actions of the company he owned--and for which he remained CEO, Chairman and President--says a lot about the kind of President he would be--and a lot more about his character.All of which has led the sometimes fiery blog, PoliticusUSA, to headline one of its latest stories this way: “Mitt Romney’s Candidacy Is Turning into the Republicans’ Worst Nightmare.” Contributor Sarah Jones writes, in part:
Romney was happy to make millions of dollars from the company he owned. He was happy to take credit for the “jobs he created.” But he refuses to take responsibility for the lives his company destroyed, or the fact that in some cases he loaded up companies with debt and bled them dry to pay his own fees before he put them into bankruptcy and fired their employees.
Romney cashed Bain’s checks--and sometimes he apparently deposited them in Swiss Bank accounts--or accounts in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. But he refuses to take responsibility for the fact that the firm was--as The Washington Post called it--a “pioneer of outsourcing.”
This is a guy who plays by a different set of rules than ordinary mortals. And the last thing he wants to do is allow those ordinary mortals to see first hand how he did what he did by disclosing his income tax returns from the years he was active at Bain.
Some of the companies he acquired at Bain did well. Others went under. But win or lose, Romney always made money. Workers may have lost their livelihoods and pensions. Small businesses that served as suppliers to his companies may have gone under. But Romney always came out ahead.
Mitt Romney is the kind of guy who is always happy to bask in the glow of success, but is never willing to take responsibility for failure.
The fact that [Romney will not release more than one or two years of his tax returns] says there is something he doesn’t want us to see. It would have been pretty easy to amend 2011′s returns retroactively before he released them. Perhaps to claim money in offshore accounts or clean up what is not illegal but would certainly bring attention to tax code issues that the wealthy don’t want the 98% of Americans to know about. But all of those assumptions give Romney the benefit of the doubt.How much worse this situation can get for Romney is anybody’s guess. Tomorrow begins another work week, and some members of the news media seem finally to be doing their jobs, digging into Bain’s dubious history and Romney’s role in it, rather than simply parroting press releases and excerpting stump speeches.
Has Romney earned the benefit of the doubt with his Bain claims clearly demonstrating that he has no problem adjusting things to look good for the situation he finds himself in? He was there, he wasn’t there--he can run for Governor because he was back for business but he wasn’t in business so he’s not responsible.
Republicans are uncomfortable with Romney’s position because it highlights the elitism of the “1%” (actually 2%, technically). Romney’s arrogance in his refusal to be transparent with his tax returns endangers the top 2%; it puts them at risk of real discovery. ...
Romney might just be the catalyst for great change, for he is the poster child for all of the inequities in our tax policy. If he released his tax returns, he would at the very least be making Obama’s argument for him regarding letting the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% expire.
Since Romney’s attitude of arrogance stems from his privileged experience as a “businessman,” he is telling the American people the story of the decline of the middle class over the last 40 years, albeit without meaning to.
I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if more sensible Republicans are starting to worry that their presumptive 2012 presidential nominee wasn’t sufficiently vetted during the GOP primary competition and has too much baggage to go up against a personally popular incumbent like Barack Obama. They might just be remembering, with a groan, what right-wing commentator Ann Coulter said during last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference: “If we don’t run [New Jersey governor] Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and he will lose.”
READ MORE: “Bill Kristol: ‘Romney Should Release the Tax Returns Tomorrow’” (Think Progress); “George Will: Romney Hiding Something Bad in His Tax Returns,” by John Aravosis (AMERICAblog); “Why Romney Is Afraid to Let Anyone See His Tax Returns” and “Mitt Romney Should Stop Running from Bain,” by Kevin Drum (Mother Jones); “A Flurry of Dishonesty and Deception: Romney Hack Ed Gillespie Claims Romney ‘Retired Retroactively’ from Bain,” by Michael J.W. Stickings (The Reaction); “‘If Bain Was Claiming Romney Was Still There in SEC Docs, I Think This Was Fraud, It Was About Reassuring Partners & Co-investors,’” by GottaLaff (The Political Carnival); “Rotting from the Top,” by Josh Marshall (TPM); “The Romney ‘Fact-Checking’ Scandal,” by Robert Parry (Consortium News); “Why Now; Why It Matters,” by Josh Marshall (TPM); “Note to Mitt Romney: Real Conservatives Take Personal Responsibility,” by Michael Silverstein (The Moderate Voice); “GOP Pressures Romney: Release the Tax Returns,” by Steve Benen (The Maddow Blog); “Mitt Romney Will Never Tell the Truth About Bain ... or Anything Else,” by Karoli (Crooks and Liars).