(A big thank you to my friend Steve D. for coming up with that title on a recent Bookface thread!)
Hooo boy. Ol’ Mittens has to be trying to remember exactly why he wanted to run for President in the first place right about now. It’s been a brutal few days for him, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon.
In case you missed it, Team Obama has been hitting Romney hard on his involvement with Bain Capital. He claims he was done with Bain in 1999, when he went to Utah to work on the Olympics, but SEC filings show that he was listed as CEO and owner until 2002. Why does it matter? Well, aside from possibly lying about it, or misrepresenting his involvement, apparently Bain was involved in outsourcing jobs quite a bit after 1999. Team Obama is trying to show that he is not a job creator, but a job outsourcer. That’s the gist of it, anyway. Romney is scrambling to address all this, and is now demanding an apology.
This is all pretty fascinating to me, mostly because it’s my guy who has the other guy on the ropes and is pummeling him relentlessly. David Frum also uses a boxing analogy in his opinion piece on the matter: “Wham. The first attack on Romney had been a jab, dropping Romney's guard against the haymaker.” Basically, Team Mittens walked right into the trap that was brilliantly laid by Team Obama. Now it’s a matter of trying desperately to do damage control, but the more Mittens talks about it, the worse he sounds. (His demand for an apology from President Obama prompted Rahm Emanuel to tell Romney to “stop whining.” If he can’t handle an attack ad, how is he going to handle harsh words from various world leaders?)
It also got all caught up somehow with Romney’s refusal to release more than two tax returns, which is its own shitstorm for him. Even conservatives like George Will are telling Romney to release several years’ worth, and it is causing the kind of speculation you can find in this New Yorker piece by John Cassidy. The question ultimately comes down to “What is he hiding?” As some have said, Romney released 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign when being vetted for vice-president, and McCain ended up picking...Sarah Palin?! The general consensus is that there has to be something damaging in them for him to double down on refusing to release more than two years.
In a pathetic attempt to change the subject, the Drudge Report released a bogus and irresponsible report that Condoleezza Rice was at the top of the list for Romney’s VP pick. Really? The pro-choice, pro-immigration reform Rice who had a huge part in the Iraq war and is still closely associated with W, currently at #1 with a bullet as the worst President in history? THAT Condoleezza Rice? (For the record, I don’t hate her. I think she’s a smart, strong woman who I happen to disagree with on quite a few things.) Drudge is widely known to be firmly entrenched in Romney’s pocket (I could have used another word...you’re welcome.), so this was an obvious and cynical attempt to divert attention from Bain and from Mittens’ tax returns. For shame.
Is it dirty politics? I would say it’s rough, but I wouldn’t say it’s dirty. Looks to me like someone is lying here, and I don’t believe it’s my guy. You’ll pardon me for not crying, “Leave Mittens aloooooone!” when the Republicans have been calling Obama everything from a Kenyan to a socialist. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy.
I am also in awe of whoever it was on Team Obama who came up with this attack. David Plouffe? David Axelrod? Jim Messina? Maybe it was a concerted effort. Whoever it was crafted it perfectly, and I’m sure they were laughing with delight as Romney backed himself into a corner. They’re probably still laughing. I thought the 2008 campaign was brilliant, but this is on another level. I don’t believe that Romney has managed to define himself with the majority of people (some of my friends disagree), and Team Obama has gone a long way towards defining Romney as a plutocratic fat cat who wants to help the rich more than he wants to help the poor.
However, I realize that there are still four months to go before the election. I will enjoy this brief moment of schadenfreude while I can, but I won’t gloat forever. There is plenty of work to be done.
This has been pretty fun, though!