Fucked With A Bain Capital F

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Memo to Mitt Romney: GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

Yes, it's time for Mondays With Mitt. No theme song yet, because I haven't decided what he probably thinks should be about him in "You're So Bain". Although I know what he DOESN'T think should be about him. Mean old campaign ads about his time at Bain. Or his time not at Bain. We're not sure, for some reason.

Yes, it's time once again to break from a strict chronological retelling of Mitt Romney's many failings as a human being to deal with a particular topical issue. And no, not Mitt at the NAACP and the immediate aftermath, though I will indeed get to that. I'm talking about Baingate, the scandal that should doom Romney's candidacy, but which we'll be lucky if it just wounds, given that the news media is depending on a close presidential horse race to drive ratings for the next three and a half months.

We all know Romney ran Bain Capital, an invenstment firm, for a number of years. We know that, for example, Romney claimed to have created 100,000 jobs during his tenure at Bain, a number which withered under the slightest bit of scrutiny and is no longer being used. We also know that Bain Capital engaged in a number of business practices common to firms of its type, including profiting wildly off bankruptcies, sending jobs overseas, and investing in firms engaged in necessary-but-Republican-problematic activities like disposing of aborted fetuses.

Romney's defense for all these things is that they happened after 1999, when he left Bain Capital to run the 2002 Olympics. One small problem. You remember how that 100,000 number didn't hold up under scrutiny? Well, neither is that "1999" number. There's a shit-ton of paperwork with Mitt's signature showing that he was, at least technically, the CEO and chairman of Bain until 2002.

What this means depends on how you interpret the facts, unless you're most Republicans, in which case you ignore the facts and yell OBAMA BAD at people. The best possible scenario for Romney is that he was only lying in a "technical" sense. That he left the firm in 1999, but maintained control of the company "on paper" only for two to three years, presumably drawing a salary (some paperwork during that time referred to Bain as his primary employment) for doing nothing and being unaware that his company was doing all sorts of things different blocs of voters might find ethically repugnant.

Worst case scenario is he broke the law. Because if what Romney has said on the campaign trail is the truth, then what he told the Securities and Exchange Commission is a lie, well, that's a felony. And that's why Romney and company acted like a hot poker got shoved up their asses when an Obama staffer pointed this out. Here's a hint. They're not mad that he got called a felon. They're mad because they're worried people might do the math from "he's either a liar or a felon" through "Well, he's not a felon" to the logical conclusion.

Because at this point, you know he's gotta be lying. If there were a simple, clean explanation for the three year discrepancy, the campaign would be using it at every opportunity. Instead, they're saying that this is a distraction from Obama's record, and that Obama's a hypocrite for being mean after he once inspired people by saying politics shouldn't be so mean. And giving lots of DIFFERENT explanations for the Bain Discrepancy, the best, of course, being this from Ed Gillespie:

"He actually retired retroactively at that point. He ended up not going back to the firm after his time in Salt Lake City. So he was actually retired from Bain." - Gillespie, on Meet The Press.

Retroactive retirement! You know what's best about that? It sounds totally fake, and is probably a real thing rich and powerful people do to get around the law. You know, like when corporate execs lie to Congress, get caught, and get to "revise their statements" with the correct info, or at least the lies they got caught on, to avoid a perjury charge. Either way, it's an awful thing to try to explain to the Common Man with limited access to fancy rule-breaking.

There's no good way out of this if people start paying attention to this. Either Romney was a wealthy, clueless figurehead for three years, or he was involved in questionable activities and lied about it, or he and Bain lied to the SEC. Their only way out, and they've already started the early stages of this, but watch - is to try to make the conversation about the validity of the conversation, not about the facts on the ground. It's going to be tough - it ties, for example, into the whole tax returns thing, which he's already lost a couple of old-school dickish-but-not-insane Republicans on.

And really, they've been trying to play the "Bain is off-limits" card for a VERY long time now. They had to know this was coming, otherwise, why would they have tried to head it off at the pass? Where there are a bunch of assholes in suits imploring you not to look at all that smoke, there's usually fire. And we may never see the fire, but maybe the smoke will make some people uncomfortable for a while.