This past week has seen a flurry of reporting about Mitt Romney’s lack of candor with regard to his tenure at Bain Capitol. First he says that he retired in 1999. Then, when SEC documents prove that he claimed to be in charge through 2001, he says he was merely on a leave of absence. Then more evidence reveals that he gave sworn testimony that, while he was running the Olympics, he was still making trips and decisions at Bain. Finally, his campaign released a statement that insists that he had “absolutely no involvement” with Bain after 1999, and dismisses the documents that contradict that saying…
“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.”
For a time? There is no justification for such a transfer to result in failing to properly report the firm’s management for three years. It would only take a simple amendment to a previous filing to alert the SEC of a management change. The only plausible explanations for not doing so for three years are either neglect or deceit (neither of which are particularly attractive traits in a presidential candidate). During that prolonged period of time, companies considering doing business with Bain would have been materially misled had they relied on the representations in the SEC filings. In many cases businesses consummate transactions based on the perceived reputation of the managers. An associate who concluded any business with Bain during this time might be dismayed to learn now that the assurances given him as to who was in charge were false. That could make Bain and Romney liable for damages in any deals that went south.
No wonder Romney refuses to disclose his taxes the way almost every other presidential candidate has since his father set the standard some 40 years ago. So what has Romney decided to in response to this hail of bad publicity?
First he floats the name of Condoleeza Rice as a potential pick for his running mate. I’m going on record here as saying that the chances of that happening are less than zero. Rice has been adamant about her aversion to politics and has declared unambiguously that she would not take a spot on the ticket. What’s more, her selection would infuriate Romney’s pro-life base. But this discussion fueled by a ridiculous post on the Drudge Report is Romney’s way of diverting attention from his many financial woes, and also his embarrassing performance at the NAACP conference. Fox News came to the rescue on this by promoting the Rice speculation, including a particularly absurd segment on Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Cavuto: Word is that former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is not only on Gov. Mitt Romney’s veepstakes list, she’s on top of it for now. And considering that she’s not the only Bush cabinet official on it, maybe the Bush stigma is over. To Gov. Mike Huckabee on a list that he’s actually rumored to be on himself. What do you think of this?
Huckabee: Personally, I really don’t think there’s that much of a Bush stigma going into this election because people want to defeat Barack Obama. I think that George W. Bush, were he on the ticket, would win the election this year. And he certainly would have the enthusiastic support of Republicans. [...]
Cavuto: But Condoleeza Rice is attached to one of the more controversial, to put it mildly, the whole Iraq war.
Wow! They really have some chutzpah to assert that there is no Bush stigma. But to go even further and declare that Bush could actually win an election is bordering on derangement. Especially when Cavuto himself notes that Rice is stigmatized by her connection to the Iraq debacle, but he doesn’t seem to place any responsibility for that on Bush. I repeat…Wow!
Following the Rice diversion, Romney has scheduled a series of news interviews with five news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, AND Fox) for tonight. With the exception of Fox, this is an almost newsworthy announcement on its own. Romney has permitted only a handful of interviews outside of his Fox News comfort zone. So to suddenly make appointments to run the mainstream media table reveals just how serious Romney regards his current predicament. He is in a full panic and hopes that by spinning furiously on a Friday night (when the fewest people are paying attention to news) he might be able to pacify the peasants with torches and pitchforks, and make it to the safety of next week.
Judging by the snowballing reports that continue to discover new cracks in Romney’s stories, it seems unlikely that his diversionary tactics will succeed. If he wants this to subside, he needs to come clean about Bain and release the tax returns he is so obsessed with concealing. Otherwise he will just be prolonging the pain and creating more opportunities for enterprising journalists to uncover more of the dirt that is undoubtedly there.
Lashing out wildly at Obama, calling him a liar without providing any substance to back it up, and attempting to manhandle the press, might gain him some points amongst those already on his side, but it isn’t going to stop the bleeding and, in the end, it will only make him seem weak and pathetic, lost and desperate, which is what he is.