Why Mitt Romney needs to wake up and go on the offense.
Barack Obama's campaign and media surrogates are doing everything they can to deflect the election year conversation away from the president's record. Their principal method for doing so is as surprising as a sunrise: they're attacking Mitt Romney with all the effort they can muster. Yet as is so often the case with this president and his defenders, overt lying has become an integral part of the equation. One particular lie stands out above all the rest. In an avalanche of coordinated Chicago-style thuggery, they are trying to convince Americans that Romney is a "possible felon" with respect to his tenure at Bain Capital. And they're hoping the lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.
Before getting into the details of the current attacks, it is worth reminding readers that this is not the first time Democrats and members of the mainstream media were willing to sacrifice their integrity for the so-called greater good of getting their man into the White House. After the 2008 election, it was revealed that 400 progressive journalists, academics and activists coordinated their efforts to insulate Barack Obama from his former religious mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Employees of Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic were all part of the so-called JournoList collaboration. That effort consisted largely of attacking anyone who brought up Wright as "racist," even as they attempted to keep Wright's own racist rants under the radar in their respective publications.
The current method of attack is different, but equally insidious. On July 12th, Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggested Mitt Romney may have committed a felony. Talking with reporters, Cutter said that Romney's name on the firm’s filings with the SEC, indicating he was CEO of Bain years after he said he ended active involvement with the company, means that “either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony…Or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”
Cutter's accusation was based on an article in the leftist Boston Globe published the same day, purporting to show that Romney was in charge of Bain Capital longer than he had claimed to be. The timing is critical because the Obama campaign has painted Romney as a jobs outsourcer for what Bain did after Romney ceased running the company in February of 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Globe contends that Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents filed by Bain Capital state that Romney remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” through at least 2002.
Romney claims he was nothing more than a passive, absentee owner during that time, and despite the Globe's hyperventilating, critical evidence obtained by Fortune Magazine--also published on July 12th--reveals that Romney was telling the truth. Bain Capital circulated offering documents for its seventh private equity fund in June 2000, listing 18 managers of the fund. Romney's name is not among them, nor is he listed as a "key investment professional" or as part of the day-to-day operations or investment committee of the Bain Venture Fund established in 2001. He continued to fulfill legal obligations to the firm, such as signing legal documents, but all managerial and investment decisions made from the time he left in 1999 until 2002, when he gave up ownership in the company, were made by others.
That reality remains irrelevant to Obama's leftist water-carriers. After being informed of the information obtained by Fortune, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emailed a response that closely resembled Cutter's remarks. "Mitt Romney either misled the American people or misrepresented himself to the SEC," he wrote. "Romney has said he had no authority or responsibility for managing Bain since 1999, but that has been proven false." The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan claimed Romney is "an obvious perjurer and thereby a felon." DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz parroted Cutter on MSNBC. "Either Mitt Romney was lying on SEC forms and misrepresenting to his investors --which could be a felony--that he was the sole owner, president, CEO of Bain Capital from 1999 until almost the end of 2001, or he wasn't and represented that he was," she said.
Yet this week, Cutter's position on the issue was "evolving" to say the least. Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday whether she had any regret over using the word “felony,” Cutter responded, “No, absolutely not. It’s a fact. If you’re signing federal documents knowing them to be false, it’s a felony.” Yesterday On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Cutter said she wasn't implying that Romney had committed a crime--at least at first. “We’re not suggesting Romney committed a crime here,” she contended. “We’re actually suggesting he’s not being up front with the American people about what his involvement was with Bain. And day by day more and more evidence comes out that he was involved with Bain.” Yet when asked if she was walking back her remarks of last week she responded, "No, no."
Ms. Cutter and the rest of these rumor-mongers have reason to be concerned. Slowly but surely, the truth is trickling out. An article by Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler reveals that the story by the Boston Globe "seems to hinge on a quote from a former Securities and Exchange Commission member (Roberta S. Karmel), which would have more credibility if the Globe had disclosed she was a regular contributor to Democrats," and that there "appears to be some confusion about how partnerships are structured and managed, or what SEC documents mean." The paper also states that in order to believe the claims made by Cutter, et al., "one would have to believe that Romney, with the advice of his lawyers, lied on government documents and committed a criminal offense. Moreover, you would have to assume he willingly gave up his share to a few years of retirement earnings--potentially worth millions of dollars--so he could say his retirement started in 1999."
The Post also confirmed Fortune's assessment that Romney "was only a passive investor" in Bain Capital. ABC News came to the same conclusion. "Democrats say it defies common sense that someone who technically owned Bain Capital could have no say whatsoever in its investment activities and operations...But, as fact checkers note, Team Obama does not provide any specific evidence to back up claims that Romney was actively managing Bain between 1999 and 2002."
Yet a follow-up article by the Washington Post fact-checker -- that awarded the Obama campaign three-out-of-four Pinocchios for lying -- illuminated the crux of the issue. "Indeed, if someone wanted to make a criminal case (against Romney), why quibble with ancient SEC documents?" asks Kessler. He continued:
In 2011, Romney, as a presidential candidate, filed a public financial disclosure form, under pain of perjury, that stated:
"Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way."
Kessler noted that if Romney lied on that form it would indeed be a felony. He concludes his piece with a challenge. "Still, if the Obama campaign wants to put its money where its mouth is, it should immediately lodge a complaint about Romney’s financial disclosure form, filed just last year, rather than try to mislead people about potential violations in relatively unimportant SEC documents."
Kessler is missing the point. Misleading people is precisely the aim of this whole charade. Nothing illustrates that reality better than the statement made Sunday by Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod on CNN’s "State of the Union." Referring to Cutter's either/or contention that Romney lied about his time at Bain Capital, or he lied on SEC filings, Axlerod was asked if Romney was a felon. Axlerod said that if Romney made false allegations on SEC forms, that it would constitute a felony--even as he noted that Cutter did not accuse Romney of actually being a felon.
In other words, rather than making anything resembling a substantiated claim, members of the Obama re-election campaign and their media enablers are resorting to the lowest form of innuendo. Virtually any accusation, no matter how meritless, can be plugged into the formula. Thus, the Obama campaign could say, if Mitt Romney cheated on his wife, then he's an adulterer -- secure in the knowledge that at least some of their media surrogates would be more than willing to run it as a "breaking" news story.
The strategy here is clear. Hurl enough accusations at Romney to make him a reactive candidate, who spends more time defending himself, rather than a proactive candidate who can continue to focus on the president's dismal economic record, his contempt for the Constitution, and the numerous scandals that afflict his administration. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney rose to the bait, demanding an apology. "He [Obama] sure as heck ought to say that he's sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team," Romney contended.
Such a quixotic request demonstrates a disturbing level of naivete. Hell will freeze over before Obama and his surrogates apologize for anything, much less something that puts Romney on the defensive, no matter how absurd the charges are. It is who they are, and what they do. The sooner Mitt Romney comes to terms with it, the better his chances in November. Counter-punching is insufficient strategy. President Obama, as his most recent attack on private enterprise indicates, intends to expand on his socialist/Marxist vision for America in a second term. Mitt Romney remains the last obstacle in his way.
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