Obama Resorts To Swiftboating

“It was despicable what they did to John Kerry. Hey! Maybe it will work on Romney!”

I didn’t see this coming from the Obama campaign, and I suppose I should have. The President has shown a willingness to abandon virtually every one of the principles his piously stood for during his “transformational” 2008 campaign; the unifying, bi-partisan, President-of -all-Americans has meticulously worked to seed distrust and enmity between black and white, Anglo and Hispanic, business owners and labor, rich and poor, non-Catholic and Catholic, young and old, men and women, and, of course, Republicans and Democrats, as a desperate and cynical strategy to stay in power, disregarding the inevitable harm such a scorched earth strategy will do to the nation. If anyone can recall in our history such a total breach of integrity by a major American political figure, please enlighten me. The closest I can find is President Obama’s 2008 opponent, John McCain, who thoroughly disgraced himself to fend off a tea party challenger in his 2010 Senate bid in Arizona….and it really isn’t close.

Still, I didn’t expect the President to resort to Swiftboating, the political tactic that derives its name from the attacks on John Kerry’s military heroics from some of his fellow Vietnam swift boat commanders (“Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”) who financed a devastating series of negative campaign ads alleging that Kerry’s decorations for valor were based on fraud. Though the ads were based on rumor, hearsay and animus, they put Kerry on the defensive in his 2004 campaign against President Bush. I doubt that the smear really lost Kerry the election—he was a terrible candidate—but Democrats have continued to cite the Swiftboat ads as proof of conservative perfidy and ruthlessness. They, of course, would never stoop so low.

The word “swiftboating” is now firmly established in political lexicon as “fabricating a damaging fantasy for partisan reasons, that hits the politician where he’s seen to be strongest…to associate a political opponent through a lie that attacks his or her credibility, wrapped in a smear campaign, that hits at the heart of an issue that makes his candidacy popular”  The only way a Democratic President could justify such a tactic on a grand scale would be hypocrisy, “ends justify the means” utilitarianism (that is, the bad kind), and a handful of rationalizations, like “They started it,” “Tit for Tat,” “They are the bad guys, we’re the good guys,” and of course, “Everybody does it.”

Yet it was made clear last week that the Obama campaign is now fully committed to a Swiftboating strategy against Mitt Romney, in the hopes that voters won’t bother to check the facts,  pay attention to the wave of news media—yes, even the Obama rooting section news media!—rebuttals of the attacks as deliberately misleading, or retch at the President’s deteriorating character. The new word for Swiftboating is apparently “Baining,” as the President has “personally approved” attack ad falsely claiming that Romney, as the CEO of Bain Capital, “outsourced jobs” overseas, when there is no evidence to support that accusation. The usually Obama-friendly Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s Factchecker, rated that ad as a four Pinocchio lie, his worst catagory. Undeterred—polls showed that the lie was working, you see (“How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?”), so why stop?—the Obama campaign then doubled down, and went full-swiftboat.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, told the media  that Romney had “full control” of Bain during this time he claimed too have left Bain to run the 2002 Winter Olympics  and was “therefore directly responsible” for decisions made at companies in which Bain invested. “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony,” Cutter said. “Or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”  Despicable. No non-Democratic Party allied media entity supports that characterization, and the investigation by the Annenberg Foundation’s non-partisan FactCheck.org found the claim to be categorically false:

“None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said. It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example. We see nothing to contradict the statement that a Bain spokesman issued in response to the Globe article: “Bain Capital, July 12: Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period. Jill E. Fisch, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and co-director of the Institute for Law and Economics, said Romney would not have committed a felony by listing himself as managing director — even if he now claims he had no role in running the company after February 1999. There is no legal obligation to describe how active one is in the day-to-day management of the company, she said. And just because he held title of managing director doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s responsible for decisions like layoffs or outsourcing.”

Suggesting that a candidate is a felon when there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the case is in the same category as claiming that a veteran’s purple hearts and Silver Star weren’t based on real acts of valor, and arguably worse. Romney has demanded an apology, as he should, and the Obama camp has refused.

Swiftboating.

Yes, that revolting tactic that Democrats have railed against for eight years is suddenly acceptable when a Democratic President is in re-election trouble. And unlike 2004, where the tactic was adopted by an independent group (supposedly) uncoordinated with the Bush campaign, this time there is no plausible deniability. This is President Obama’s campaign, and he is accountable.

Somehow I didn’t expect this from the President who ran on the promise to purge America of old politics and dirty tricks.

Silly me.

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Sources:

Graphic: 4.bp

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

25 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics

25 responses to “Obama Resorts To Swiftboating

  1. tgt

    Your comments on outsourcing are accurate. Your comments on Bain are beyond the pale wrong.

    Under oath, Romney has claimed he had no involvement with Bain and Bain companies after 1999. Also under oath, Romney claimed that he went to board meetings for Bain companies between 1999 and 2002. This information was present when factcheck.org went live with the check. It was irresponsible of them, and it’s irresponsible of you to ignore it as well. Factcheck.org’s checking amounted to “It’s possible Romney did not commit a felony based on severely limited information.”

    • I don’t see where you get that interpretation. Going to board meetings does not make him an active manager, as I can attest, as the member of several boards. I repeat:no credible business law authority agrees with Obama’s accusations or yours. The Globe report was incompetent, among other things, conflating Bain Capital management with oversight of their assets—as one professor said, it is like saying you are CEO of your 401K..Romney says he wasn’t managing the company, and there is no indication that he was. I called a friend who works at the SEC, and she said the accusation was laughable.

      Why would you even try to defend such an obvious smear? What they are accusing Romney of doing doesn’t even makes sense.

      • tgt

        If we assume that it’s true that Romney was not involved with Bain for those 3 years, he looks even worse.

        1) Romney’s company was so incompetent, it took 3 years to get him off filing documents.

        2) Similarly, Bain was so imcompetent, it paid a guy $100,000/year for 3 years to do nothing.

        3) Romney is a liar, as he used his involvement with Bain to support his abiility to run for office in Massachusetts.

        4) Romney is a dick, as he used his ownership of the company to get a signficant payout when he actually retired in 2002.

        —-

        You seem to be making a new claim: Romney still had his old positions, he just didn’t do anything with them. I haven’t seen anyone else claim that yet, but it also doesn’t put either him or his company in a good light.

        With Bain, Romney’s trying to do the same thing he has done with all of his positions. Tell people what he thinks is best to say now, and attack anyone for calling out differences. He doesn’t claim that any of the compaints about him are false. He justs says they are low tactics.

        • I am saying what the documents said. He owned the company, and was transitioning out of it. Do you really believe anyone thinks this is a felony? If Obama does, his cluelessness about how businesses run is settled. Otherwise, he’s lying.

          By no definition of incompetent does filing errors, if there were any, qualify. A company’s business isn’t filing forms, much as the government tries to make it such. This is just Romney-bashing without substance.

          “He doesn’t claim that any of the complaints about him are false.” He in fact stated unequivocally that the false filing claim was a lie. That sounds like “it’s false” to me. Have you really been following this story, or are you just knee-jerking?

          I suppose its gratifying to know that the Big Lie tactic is working for Obama, at least in your case. The utter hypocrisy is still depressing, though.

          And here’s Post Democratic flack Chris Cillizza making EXACTLY the same point I am about Obama’s Bain attacks, except that he’s cheering them—not because they don’t “cross the line” but because the Republicans did it first. Actually, you may be the only individual I have read or hears that actually believes this crap. Even the Democrat insiders in DC admit it’s just a dishonest, dirty ploy. How do you explain Cillizza, who has the ear and gets the dope from inside the Obama administration, agreeing that this is swiftboating?

          I guarantee when the dust has cleared, you comment will look almost as desperate as Obama’s campaign tactics. Meanwhile, start a Factcheck on Factcheck.org. And good luck.

          • tgt

            I am saying what the documents said.

            No, you’re not. You’re saying what some of the documents said.

            He owned the company, and was transitioning out of it.

            Romney is currently claiming that he had no dealings with the company from 1999 – 2002. So it’s not a felony. Instead Romney is lying about what his role was. That’s what Cutter’s statement laid out. An either, or choice.

            Do you really believe anyone thinks this is a felony? If Obama does, his cluelessness about how businesses run is settled. Otherwise, he’s lying.

            By no definition of incompetent does filing errors, if there were any, qualify. A company’s business isn’t filing forms, much as the government tries to make it such. This is just Romney-bashing without substance.

            If it really was 3 years of filings when Romney was not involved, that absolutely looks like a felony to me, and should to you, too. If it’s business as usual to be that wrong in sworn filings for that long, then the problem is with business as usual, not with calling it illegal. That said, it’s prettly clear that Romney did not commit felonies. He’s just lying now. Instead of claiming complete independence from BAIN, he could have owned the transition period. He just didn’t want to be tied to things that he is truly tied to.

            “He doesn’t claim that any of the complaints about him are false.” He in fact stated unequivocally that the false filing claim was a lie. That sounds like “it’s false” to me. Have you really been following this story, or are you just knee-jerking?

            From what I’ve seen, Romney is denying half the syllogism. He’s claiming that he left completely in 1999 and was still temporarily listed on paperwork. 3 years of temporary, even though he claimed he transitioned out fully in 1999. I see nothing that actual refutes the statement that there was either a felony then or a lie now. Can you point me to some sources?

            I suppose its gratifying to know that the Big Lie tactic is working for Obama, at least in your case. The utter hypocrisy is still depressing, though.

            Ugh. I’d hate if a lie tactic were working… like how you’re buying the Romney was both working with Bain and not working with Bain at the same time.

            And here’s Post Democratic flack Chris Cillizza making EXACTLY the same point I am about Obama’s Bain attacks, except that he’s cheering them—not because they don’t “cross the line” but because the Republicans did it first. Actually, you may be the only individual I have read or hears that actually believes this crap. Even the Democrat insiders in DC admit it’s just a dishonest, dirty ploy. How do you explain Cillizza, who has the ear and gets the dope from inside the Obama administration, agreeing that this is swiftboating?

            I think Cillizza is being an unethical hack, but he absolutely has not made the same argument you have. You are claiming Obama’s attacks are false. Cillizza isn’t. He’s claiming that the aggressiveness is similar to prior Republican attacks and making a really stupid statement that aggressiveness is what determines when things go over the line. Cillizza makes an argument that you should be ashamed to back.

            I guarantee when the dust has cleared, you comment will look almost as desperate as Obama’s campaign tactics. Meanwhile, start a Factcheck on Factcheck.org. And good luck.

            Is 0 almost 0? Your rhetorical tactic does not bolster your argument.

            • I’m not backing his justification at all, just his diagnosis of what Obama’s camp is doing. He is indeed admitting that Obama, his God, is swiftboating, and he thinks that’s OK, because, well, it’s Obama, the GOP started it, and it works. How else would you read Cillizza’s piece? I cited it as evidence of the knowing use of a dishonest claim.

              I must say, this thread sets a record. We have commenters claiming that Kerry was smeared, Romney’s being smeared, that they are victims of the same tactic, different tactics, true and false, in every combination, and one comment, Dr. Rick’s, that appears to take opposite sides at once. How do we account for this?

              • tgt

                Cillizza is comparing the aggressiveness of the attack to the aggressiveness of the swiftboat attack. In so doing, he’s claiming two really stupid things. First, he’s claiming that Democrats have never been aggressive before. Second, he’s creating a false equivalence with his phrase: “line-crossing is often in the eye of the beholder”. To Cillizza, truth and falsehood don’t matter one way or the other. He just cares that his side is on the offensive.

                Cillizza has admitted that his side is being aggressive, but didn’t say a thing about the truthfulness of Obama’s attacks.

  2. I agree with tgt comments 100% – and I want to point out the “false equivalency” of your comments.

    John Kerry’s war record is to swiftboating, meaning they got a bunch of former colleagues to denounce and poo-poo Kerry’s leadership, metals and events is NOT equivalent to Romney and his business record.

    Being a lousy commander, and even a coward, in war is NOT illegal. Claiming to be a successful businessman, and “banking” your whole campaign strategy on it, all the while not being able to show your involvement or misrepresenting your involvement with shady, unsavory or diabolical, yet maybe somehow still “legal” ( just because it is legal doesn’t make it right, ethical or moral.

    Or it is illegal – that is against the law, and if that is case, just show us the birth certificate Mitt – the past 10 years worth, just like your daddy did. That should clear things up and we can moveon.org to a real campaign.

    • PLUS Jack – – Romney never denies that this is false information – his reps claim, as do you, that there are some things that are false or lies, but on the whole in all the Sunday talking head shows everyone is wringing their hands that “The POTUS has had to stoop so low” or “this is so Dissapointing tactics are horrible he needs to apologize to the American people” blah blah blah – Yet there is no stating that these events did not take place according to the accusations put forth.

      Just like in “All the Presidents Men” – A bunch of Non-Denial Denials. There’s a true equivalency for ya.

      To sum up: The Democrats want to slow walk to Fascism, the Republicans want to Sprint. Therefore, I’ll take the Democrats. Sadly.

    • tgt

      Your comments on swiftboating are wrong. In both cases, the opposition is trying to turn a strength (Millitary service/Commercial service) into a negative. The difference is that the swiftboaters were using lies, and the Bain statements are not lies.

      • Thanks – that’s what I meant – I didn’t word it correctly.

      • Joe Fowler

        Your comments on swiftboating are wrong. In the case of Kerry, each and every accusation was confirmed as true by more than one of the guys that served with him, in many cases, by sworn affidavit; in the case of Bain, the Obama campaign is simply lying in an attempt to shore up his crumbling base. They, me, you and God, all know they are lying to sway the ignorant. Which makes them a bunch of political weenie scumbags.

        • You have no basis on which to say that third party, politically biased accusations are “true”. The official position of the American government is that they are not, and collateral attack on awards of valor decades after the fact in a political campaign is unfair, since there was no way for Kerry to respond.

        • tgt

          Along with seconding Jack’s remarks, the Obama campaign is not lying about Romney and Bain here. Moreover, the attacks are clearly aimed at white working class voters, which are by no means either side’s base.

  3. I agree that the Obama team’s actions have been unforgivable, and I said as much on my own blog yesterday. That doesn’t mean that Romney doesn’t have some questions to answer–I mean really answer, as in respond directly to the question being asked. He doesn’t get a pass just because Factcheck.org says he should.

    When in doubt, distrust.

    • Agreed, and emphatically. But I don’t think Factcheck said he should get a pass…indeed, it came perilously close to sinking to the “Tit for Tat” rationalization.

  4. Dr. Rick Dominique

    How can SEC filings “show” that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner? Did they(filings) have a tete-a-tete with Romney to know what was in his head when he signed the papers, or maybe he told them what was in his heart? Perhaps, unbeknownst to us, there was a silmultaneous filing of a caveat delineating Romney’s role and/or responsiblities. What is implicit in putting one’s signature on a legal document? Is the signatory legally liable or culpable if “his” company fail to meet expectations of an investor or a clent. Did Romney lie to Mass. FEC when he was making the case for residency to run for Governor and stated that he came back numerous times for business meetings of Companies he owned or managed?
    The whole article smacks of sophistry and tainted with overreaching rationalization. The idea that there’s a comparable analogy to the “Swift Boating” of Kerry is specious at best, dishonest and deceitful at worst.

    • You realize your comment makes no sense at all, I hope. Would you care to explain? The main body ridicules the contention that Romney is a felon or was lying, then you say that the post, which argues, as you do, that the Obama charges are baseless, is “dishonest and deceitful at worst.” Are you schizophrenic? Did someone hit you over the head while you were writing and finish your post? Was the beginning of the post the most well-disguised sarcasm in the history of discourse? Is the problem that you can’t read, or that you can’t write? I am genuinely puzzled. That sadi, a comment that contradicts itself and turns 180 degrees mid-stream is hardly convincing in either direction.

      • I disagree with your statement that “Obama calls Romney a felon.” the Obama campaign states that “If Romney lied to the SEC, that can be considered a Felony.” Romney might try to play the “plausible deniability” card here, but if he does, he’s a crappy CEO, leader, businessman, etc – and someone who I wouldn’t want in charge of our government – hell he’d “Bain” the USA out to the highest bidder, pocket his fees up front and Gordon Gecko it in bite size chunks to the other 20+ vampire squids who own everything for their pleasure.

        He’s buying the election, pure and simple – and he KNOWS that there are 2 sets of rules of law – the ones for the wealthy who can buy their justice at any cost, and then the rest of us. He is so disliked by even those in his inner circle – I mean the guy is a social nincompoop squared to the 8th power. But I’m just jealous of his wealth and money. Riiiggght.

  5. Dr. Rick Dominique

    I think the problem may be the view in your alternate reality. It seems that you may feel yourself to be a clever blogger extraordinaire, but logic obviously escapes your notice and arguments. I suggest you reread your original article, then mine and you will “understand” the sense of it all. I As far as my calling him a “felon”, I didn’t even intimate it. I posed questions which I thought you would illuminate. The only suggestion from an Obama surrogate was that IF Romney lied to SEC and FEC, he may have committed a felony.
    But you let your “cleverness” get the best of you and attacked my reading and writing ability. So much for intelligent discourse. Do you feel better?

    • I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about, though this post makes more sense than your last one. No, I never feel better when a commenter makes no sense, and then pretends that he does.

      Just focusing on the one comment I sort of understand—give me a break. IF Romney lied…he’s a felon. And IF he has a body buried under his rosebushes, he may be a murderer. And IF Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fake, he’s ineligible to be President. You really think these kinds of innuendos are fair, honest and professional, or worthy of a Presidential campaign?

      I don’t.

  6. How does this investigative journalist’s article effect this discussion?

    Romney’s Account of His Departure From Bain Undercut by…Romney Testimony

    http://www.motherjones.com/authors/david-corn via @motherjones

  7. The press’s coverage of this issue has been, I think, pretty ignorant, or, perhaps more likely, sadly in alliance with an inexcusable smear. Reporters don’t have experience with organizations, but really (tgt and blameblakeart) , the situation Romney was in when he took his leave of absence with Bain is neither unusual, nor illegal, nor deceptive, nor sinister, nor “incompetent,” nor a “lie,” and certainly no felony.

    But let’s step back a bit. The “when did you stop beating your wife” barrage on Romney starts with his argument—the minor part—of his rebuttal to the earlier anti-Bain smear, “Steel.” He said that he wasn’t running Bain during the period when the company in the ad was dissolved, but that’s not what’s wrong with the ad, as I detailed in my post about it:

    •By featuring an investment project by Bain that ended in the bankruptcy of the company, the ad misrepresents what Bain does. Factcheck calls it “lemon-picking.” If this were a typical Bain project, the company would be a failure. Its goal is to purchase companies, invest in them, turn them around, save jobs, and make money for investors. The ad is like featuring the Challenger tragedy to represent NASA as a cadre of bungling fools. It is like recounting only the cases of a great surgeon’s patients that didn’t make it off the operating table to make him seem like a butcher. It is like creating an ad showing only Thomas Edison’s inventions that flopped—his machine that he said could communicate with the dead; his single-piece cast-concrete house—to argue that the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph and the movie camera was an idiot. The majority of Bain’s reclamation projects have in fact created jobs and built viable companies. That shouldn’t make the former GS workers feel any better or less angry, but using them to represent Bain is dishonest.

    •Bain bought GS when it was in debt and struggling, not when it was thriving, as the ad would have one believe. It had been shrinking steadily, and was regarded as endangered when Bain, under Romney, purchased it.

    •Bain poured many millions of dollars into keeping the company afloat—modernizing equipment and making other changes to help it stay competitive.

    •Bain kept the company operating for more than seven years. That is not the sense given by the ad, which implies that Bain bought the company to immediately destroy it.

    •Bain saved jobs during this period. It is likely that had Bain not bought the company, it would have gone bankrupt years earlier.

    •There were many reasons for the company’s collapse, including some mismanagement by Bain. But it was also being clobbered by foreign competition, like the rest of the U.S. steel industry. Suggesting that Bain put a humming business into bankruptcy is factually false.

    By focusing only on the “was Romney running the company or not?” angle, Obama’s minions cutely slide past the fact that the ad is horse-hockey no matter WHO was running Bain. Most objective commentators agree that the ad is deceptive and unfair. Yes! I’ll give the President who promised to be honest and transparent kudos from the dark side for pulling off this scam, but a scam it is.
    Now back to the main issue: was Romney running Bain for the three years he was working on the Olympics—during his leave of absence? Yes and no. They are both honest answers, and anyone with either a modicum of honesty or a modicum of comprehension of business and organizations knows it—and yes, it is dubious whether Obama is in either of these categories:

    •I took a leave of absence as Artistic Director of my theater company. Did I remain on the letterhead and the official papers of the organization? Yes. Was I legally responsible? Yes. Was I serving as artistic director in the sense that mattered? NO. If I had decided not to come back, would it have been honest and accurate to say that I left when I went on leave? YES. Since I came back, do I feel that I ever left the company? NO. All these idiotic, sarcastic media articles about how Romney saying he “retired retroactively” is him “time travelling” is either proof of stupidity, or proof of dishonesty, and ditto for the Obama campaign.

    •In his second term, Woodrow Wilson had a debilitating stroke. He never recovered. During that time, he was President of the United States, and what happened occurred during his term: he was technically “responsible.” But his wife and doctor were secretly running the company. Is it accurate to say he was President? YES. Is it accurate to say that he wasn’t running the country? YES.

    •There is a case going before the Supreme Court regarding the issue of whether a man who was acting solicitor general, and whose name was on a Supreme Court brief submitted regarding a case can represent the party opposing the government in that case, now that he is in private practice. The government says no: lawyers who worked on a case for the government can’t do that, He says—yes, I was named on the brief because the Solicitor General is formally responsible, but I didn’t work on the case, I wasn’t involved in the case. Is the SG named on a brief responsible for the case in his capacity? Yes. Is a SG general so named lying when he says he was named but actually not working on it? NO.

    Romney’s situation was similar to these and thousands of others. For Obama to try to make the media carry the message that he is being anything but honest is cynical, playing on the majority’s ignorance of organizational management.

    • tgt

      Reporters don’t have experience with organizations, but really (tgt and blameblakeart) , the situation Romney was in when he took his leave of absence with Bain is neither unusual, nor illegal, nor deceptive, nor sinister, nor “incompetent,” nor a “lie,” and certainly no felony.

      Assuming Romney actually took the complete leave he claims to have taken, then no, “the situation Romney was in” was not illegal, deceptive, sinister, incompetent, a lie, or a felony. Of course, noone’s claiming “the situation Romney was in” was any of those things. You’re strawmanning. Try engaging.

      Its goal is to purchase companies, invest in them, turn them around, save jobs, and make money for investors.

      False. Bain’s goal is to make money for investors. Saving jobs and turning companies around is sometimes part of this, but not necessarily.

      Bain poured many millions of dollars into keeping the company afloat—modernizing equipment and making other changes to help it stay competitive.

      Bain then took out considerably more money than it put into the company, without the company turning a profit. That is the Bain business model. Put money in. Leverage that money into loans. Take back dividends and fees larger than the money put in. If the company gets back on its feet, great! If not, no big deal. Bain’s gonna make its money anyway.

      Now back to the main issue: was Romney running Bain for the three years he was working on the Olympics—during his leave of absence? Yes and no. They are both honest answers, and anyone with either a modicum of honesty or a modicum of comprehension of business and organizations knows it—and yes, it is dubious whether Obama is in either of these categories[.]

      It’d be more accurate to say “Yes and no, but neither yes nor no.” Romney has been claiming he left wholesale and wasn’t involved with anything that occurred. That is clearly false. He was involved with some things. How much of Bain’s record in that time should be tied to Romney is in question, but it’s clearly not “nothing”. Romney is the one who set up this situation. Obama is just calling him on it.

      Was I legally responsible? Yes.

      So, Romney’s responsible for what his company did. Sold. Romney’s been claiming he isn’t.

      I took a leave of absence as Artistic Director of my theater company. Did I remain on the letterhead and the official papers of the organization? Yes. Was I legally responsible? Yes. Was I serving as artistic director in the sense that mattered? NO. If I had decided not to come back, would it have been honest and accurate to say that I left when I went on leave? YES. Since I came back, do I feel that I ever left the company? NO. All these idiotic, sarcastic media articles about how Romney saying he “retired retroactively” is him “time travelling” is either proof of stupidity, or proof of dishonesty, and ditto for the Obama campaign.

      Were you paid $100,000/year during your leave of absence? No? Then it’s not a parallel situation. If Romney had actually stopped working with Bain and forgone his salary, then the retroactive retirement would be valid. He didn’t do either, so it’s not.

      In his second term, Woodrow Wilson had a debilitating stroke. He never recovered. During that time, he was President of the United States, and what happened occurred during his term: he was technically “responsible.” But his wife and doctor were secretly running the company. Is it accurate to say he was President? YES. Is it accurate to say that he wasn’t running the country? YES.

      I think you meant “No” to that last question. Also, this was incredibly unethical behavior. This is Gabrielle Giffords’ handler behavior. If this is parallel, Bain is a horrible company. The main difference I see here is that Wilson didn’t have much of a choice, while Romney did.

      Is the SG named on a brief responsible for the case in his capacity? Yes. Is a SG general so named lying when he says he was named but actually not working on it? NO.

      So, Romney’s responsible for what happened. I agree. Now, if you wanted this to be a parallel situation, the SG would be named on the brief 3 years after he claimed to have left office. Would he be responsible? No. Would it be a felony to submit his name as the council of record? Yes.

      Romney’s situation was similar to these and thousands of others. For Obama to try to make the media carry the message that he is being anything but honest is cynical, playing on the majority’s ignorance of organizational management.

      Romney’s statements directly contradict each other. He was both not involved with Bain, and continuously involved with Bain. Calling someone on their own lies is not cynical. What’s cynical is thinking that if you deny your own contradictions, the media (and populace) will treat someone calling you on them as a cynical liar.

  8. Mark

    I’ve enjoyed your site and your attempts to even handedly analyze ethical issues. However, on the topic of Swiftboarding I believe you have fallen for the media meme about the ads. Awhile ago I went back and looked at the nine actual Swiftboat ads to see what they actually say – not how the media characterized them. The bulk of them take on John Kerry’s Congressional testimony and his other political actions in the early 1970s. They report that testimony and his actions accurately. Others take on the “Christmas in Cambodia” fable which Kerry later admitted was wrong. There is one part of one ad which alludes mysteriously to his actual conduct as a soldier implying there was something dishonorable about it which I think is an unfair shot. That’s it.
    I believe the term people really should be using is TANGing as in Texas Air National Guard. Think of TANG from this perspective – If Britt Hume at Fox News had done an expose on Kerry and it turned out (1) one of his children had done fundraisers for the Republican party in Mass.; (2) one of his two sources was a Vice-Chair for the Bush campaign who had dramatically changed his prior story about Kerry and whose own daugher denounced him as lying about his new story; (3) his other source’s contribution was to provided a fabricated document; and (4) the Fox producer for the segment had been consulting in advance of the airing of the segment with the Republican National Committee, I am pretty confident the media would have covered the story in a different way and TANGing would today be in our lexicon.

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