commentary

Kathleen Parker: Obama campaign discovers Bain of truth

2012-07-23T00:30:00Z 2012-07-23T05:36:49Z Kathleen Parker: Obama campaign discovers Bain of truthBy Kathleen Parker | The Washington Post La Crosse Tribune

When it comes to over-the-top politics, the Obama campaign has set a new standard with recent attempts to paint Mitt Romney as a felon.

This clever and utterly false allegation was advanced more than once by Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager.

During several days of media rounds that included some tough challenges — “Felon?!” — Cutter variously stuck to her guns, softened a bit and, finally, under relentless pressure, retracted the comment —or at least the felony insinuation. But the fact that the campaign advanced the notion in the first place is revealing. Trying to define Romney in some criminal light was obviously a strategy and, not to leap to conclusions, suggests both desperation and a lack of any substantive criticism.

Here’s how Cutter justified the original innuendo on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when co-host Mika Brzezinski pressed her on her use of the term. IF Romney misrepresented himself on his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings related to his tenure at Bain Capital, THEN he would have committed a crime, she said.

Sheesh. If/then: What a basis for defamation and slander. Applying that calculus, we’re all guilty of somebody’s random supposition. But all is fair in love and politics, right? Or don’t facts matter just a little bit?

Extending fairness where none is apparently appreciated, there were a couple of facts that might have given one pause about Romney’s relationship to Bain Capital after he left in 1999 to reorganize the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His name did still appear as head of Bain on paperwork between 1999 and 2002, according to The Washington Post, which could cast doubt on his assertions that he had no managerial role at Bain after 1999. But all one has to do is ask, and many did, and the answer was not confusing.

Romney was still a “passive, limited partner” with “no management capacity,” according to a 2002 statement he filed with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. But his partners ran the company after Romney left — rather hastily — to save the Olympics. Romney’s name was first floated by the Olympic committee on Feb. 2 and he accepted the challenge Feb. 11. Nine days is hardly enough time to pack a toothbrush, much less push the paperwork necessary to hand over a multibillion-dollar business.

The purpose of the Obama campaign’s allegation was to paint Romney as that modern scourge — an uncaring corporate suit who outsources jobs and lays off workers. It is true that Bain worked with some companies that outsourced jobs to other countries — that most common of business practices conceived not only to enhance profits but also to feed Americans’ insatiable appetite for cheap goods. But all of it occurred after Romney’s tenure.

Of course, the real purpose of the charge was to portray Romney as dishonest. This is what businessmen would call a hard sell, not least because Romney’s assertions have been verified by independent sources, including The Washington Post. In May, the paper’s Fact Checker wrote:

“We’ve gone over this problem with the Obama campaign before, awarding three Pinocchios to a January memo the team released blaming Romney for job losses and bad deals that took place after the former executive had stopped working for Bain. ... These facts essentially exonerate Romney from allegations that he was responsible for any outsourcing, bad deals and layoffs that occurred with Bain’s companies in the early 2000s.”

Thus, the Obama campaign knew that what they were saying was false but proceeded to try to plant the “felon” idea, anyway. On July 2, well before Cutter made her media rounds, fact-checkers at the Annenberg Center for Public Policy (FactCheck.org) similarly exonerated Romney:

“After reviewing evidence cited by the Obama campaign, we reaffirm our conclusion that Romney left the helm of Bain Capital when he took a leave of absence in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics — as he has said repeatedly — and never returned to active management. The Obama campaign’s recent ads thus mislead when they point to investments made by Bain, as well as management decisions made by companies in which Bain invested, after that time.”

Fair play? Dishonest? Lazy? Or just plain desperate to grab any twig as Romney inches up in the polls? It’s a shame that Cutter, a smart, talented woman, was drafted for such a dastardly role. Negative ads are one thing; slander is quite another.


Kathleen Parker can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Meta-Prometheus
    Report Abuse
    Meta-Prometheus - July 23, 2012 10:44 pm
    At least Romney has a history that we can track and we know he was born here in the US. The democrats are trying to make Romney look evil by saying look he outsourced jobs while the most important job of all in the country has been outsourced to a Kenyan national!?

    Haha, I can't wait for the responses to this one.
  2. GrandpaS
    Report Abuse
    GrandpaS - July 23, 2012 7:48 pm
    Why does Parker get bent out of shape after the president has had to put up with, among other things: "He's going to take our guns away from us. He wes born in Kenya. His speech (fall of 2009) to America's school kids will be socialist indoctrinatioin. Obama's a socialist. He's not a Christian. He's guilty of 'Chicago politics.' And I could go on. No, the Dems should not have advanced this "felon" theory, but get used to it, folks. If the GOP/Fox/Limbaugh/Romney can lie like crazy constatnly about the president, guess what? Both teams may end up po\laying by the same rules. And, yes, that sucks.
  3. Report Abuse
    - July 23, 2012 5:00 pm
    Which is why you fail Zrae. You obviously have no concept of taxation or its place in society. Go take an economics class. And stop believing the 1% myth. It's a lie.
  4. Zrae
    Report Abuse
    Zrae - July 23, 2012 4:44 pm
    If I had 98% of the income, I would expect to pay 98% of the taxes.
  5. allcav
    Report Abuse
    allcav - July 23, 2012 10:53 am
    The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay 3% of all federal income taxes.They have an average tax rate of 2.98% (many don't pay any tax and others get an income credit). Obviously, the top 50% pay the remaining 97% of all taxes. The top 1% of all taxpayers pay 37% of all fedearal income taxes paid, and they have an average tax rate of 21.2%. Zrae needs to look a little deeper into the facts instead of blithely stating that "tax laws and loopholes" are the problem.
  6. Mpls
    Report Abuse
    Mpls - July 23, 2012 9:49 am
    If by chance the 47% not paying any taxes had skin in the game, the Liberal party would cease to exist. You would see an immediate concern in raising any tax rates. When your not contributing, your not concerned, fact.
  7. Report Abuse
    - July 23, 2012 8:28 am
    The top 20% of all wage earners in America pays 69.3% of ALL taxes in this country. That's a fact. (N. Gregory Makiw, 2011. Principles of Economics, Sixth Edition.)

    And yet, you hear Tammy Baldwin talking in her commercials about "the wealthy paying their FAIR SHARE". Funny. I thought "fair" meant everyone paid the same. Liberals have a skewed view of "fairness" when it comes to taxation. They want to steal from the wealthy through progressive tax rates and give to the "poor". Of course, the poor will keep voting for them as long as they keep getting free stuff, courtesy of the rich.

    It's nice to point fingers at the wealthy, or the rich and blame them for the country's problems. But it saddens me that being lazy and blaming others has become so "chic", while being successful in business or in life is now villified. Thinking like that is killing America.

    These are the lies that progressive liberals tell you. They hate the truth. If people really knew what the wealthy and what businesses pay in taxes, they would probably change their minds. The next time a liberal tells you that the rich don't pay their "fair share", remind them of that figure above.

    The top 20% of all wage earners in America pays 69.3% of ALL TAXES. That's ALL taxes. Not just income taxes. Nearly 70% already. And liberals still don't think that's fair.

    Tell me, if you were already paying 70% of all taxes, and someone told you that you had to pay even more, you'd be upset too, wouldn't you?
  8. Zrae
    Report Abuse
    Zrae - July 23, 2012 7:37 am
    Romney has exposed the real reason the wealthy do not pay propotionate taxes on their income. Tax laws and loopholes. They are nothing more than a "wink wink" while pointing out their tax rates. There are innumerable ways to get around that rate. But it looks good on paper.
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