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July 13, 2012

Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me

Quote of the Day:

The Obama campaign is also running an ad making a claim about Romney’s position on abortion that is wafer-thin, as Time's Michael Scherer demonstrates. But a fight about women's reproductive issues is a fight Democrats are happy to have; it is more than worth enduring a few boos from the crowd. Though the president makes it sound like he is the overwhelming victim of negative ads, that's not so. President Obama is a long way from the 2008 candidate who used to inveigh against political game playing. Though, even at the time, Obama was willing to say one thing and do another, and his campaign ran more negative ads than any in history.

This is further confirmation of an essential truth both campaigns have embraced about fact checking: The upside from a strong distortion is better than the downside from the hall monitors. If you're not getting four Pinocchios or a pants-on-fire, you're not doing it right. Let them boo—as long as the message gets through.

I'll say one thing for the Obama Permanent Re-Election Committee: you know your tactics are working when even your opponents think your unsupported accusations are "serious stuff" (though there's a "high probability ... that any investigation will discover [Romney] didn't lie to the SEC").

Yep... Romney may not be a felon, but "he stretches the truth for political advantage".

If we are this willing to believe the worst of our own candidates on such flimsy evidence, we might as well give up now. I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of SEC filings, nor of corporate governance. I know that I don't understand these things, and I've seen plentiful evidence over the last 4 years that Barack Obama, et al don't understand them either.

I'm perfectly content to see this investigated, because my gut tells me that the Obama administration will end up looking deeply foolish, vindictive, and petty. Meanwhile, on the off chance that fact checks do make a difference, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler doesn't think there's anything to the Globe story. Neither does Fortune Magazine, or Factcheck.org.

Despite my longstanding sense that Obama will be re-elected in November, I had begun to feel distinctly hopeful about this election. I don't anymore. In fact, I don't think I've ever felt as hopeless as I do this morning. The other side doesn't have to beat us - we'll do it to ourselves.

We'd better get our priorities straight, and soon.

Posted by Cassandra at July 13, 2012 07:54 AM

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Is your gloom due to the nearness of the center of power where you live?
I'm very hopeful out here in the hinterlands.

You might be in that bubble where you are only seeing the DC adoration of Obama - that is not fact in most of the country. I think he will lose.

Posted by: Beth Donovan at July 13, 2012 09:50 AM

It's quite possible both things are quite true. But, Romney is left with the unenviable position of "let me explain the corporate governance of Bain Capital in a short stump speech."

A good reply might be, "both of my statements are true, and the fact that my opponent doesn't understand that is more proof he's unfit for office." Unless of course that's not true then he's in a world of hurt.

Posted by: Allen at July 13, 2012 10:10 AM

No, my gloom is due to what I've reading from my own party for months.

I like Romney. Always have. I get that there are a lot of folks who don't like him, because I really, viscerally disliked Newt Gingrich and I didn't care any more for Santorum.

But had either of them gotten the nomination, I would have supported either one over Obama. I was gobsmacked when McCain got the nomination in 2008, but I thought he was better than Obama and I supported him on that basis.

It just seems to me that everyone is holding out for their perfect candidate, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense when we're simultaneously demanding that they be all authentic and honest with us. They should always tell us what they think rather than what they think we want to hear, and somehow, what they think should never deviate from what we want them to think.

Considering that we don't agree about a lot of things, that doesn't seem too reasonable.

Hell, I didn't like Bush II much during the first campaign and I think he turned out to be about 180 out from the impression of him I formed during the campaign.

I think we need to get real about what a President can, and cannot do and about which issues are deal killers. When I see people demanding that we pick a VP who agrees with us on abortion, of all things, my mind just explodes. Neither the VP nor the President is going to reverse Roe.

I just don't get it.

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 10:36 AM

I just don't think that the average voter gives a rat's ass about Bain. And, as awful as this may sound, the majority of Obama voters don't even understand what Bain is or what it does. And they don't really care.

I think Obama will find it very hard to get his 'people' to go to the polls this fall.

Posted by: Beth Donovan at July 13, 2012 10:37 AM

...except that both his statements can't be true. Also, it's more than two statements. His official filings this year say that he "retired" in 1999; his SEC filings say he was CEO; and his 2002 testimony, when he needed to establish residency in MA to run for governor, was that he "regularly" traveled back for "business meetings."

I don't need to understand the intricacy of filings to know that all of that can't be true at once. You can't be both "retired" and "CEO, Chairman of the Board and sole shareholder." You can't be both "too busy to be involved" while "returning regularly for business meetings." That's just a logical problem with categories: it's "both X and Not-X."

If victory is your concern, let me offer Sun Tzu's advice: know yourself, and your enemy, and you can march to a thousand battles without fear. You know your enemy well enough, but it is important not to refuse to believe in any defects in your own side. In fact, that's usually your point: we should be as ready to take a hard look at our own faults, or the faults of Republicans or conservatives, as to find fault on the left.

Posted by: Grim at July 13, 2012 10:41 AM

A good reply might be, "both of my statements are true, and the fact that my opponent doesn't understand that is more proof he's unfit for office." Unless of course that's not true then he's in a world of hurt.

I would find that entirely plausible, because it's pretty obvious that Obama doesn't get anything having to do with anything so grubby as [shudder] actual economics or capitalism.

And I would expect the Dems to pounce on that as "more evidence" that he's flip flopping or evasive or whatever. The problem is that so will Republicans.

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 10:47 AM

No Grim, I don't agree. We have gone round and round and round about this before. "Business meetings" can mean all sorts of things. It doesn't mean you were actively involved in the day to day operations of a company.

You can't be actively involved in the day to day operations of a firm like Bain via showing up for a few business meetings. That's a full time job.

And you also can't run something huge like the Olympics while simultaneously running a company it took all your time/attention to run before. It's just not possible.

You see what you want to see, but it doesn't pass the common sense test. I will say this: if Romney was able to run both the Olympics and Bain at the same time, he's hands down the most capable human being I've ever seen.

And I know you don't believe that.

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 10:53 AM

I don't think that I ever said that Romney wasn't capable. I said his word couldn't be trusted. Was he "retired" or was he still 'regularly attending business meetings'? He has testified to both.

My guess is that the answer is actually neither one: he wasn't retired (and in fact did not seek or receive a severance package until 2002); but he also wasn't regularly involved in the business (which he needed to be in order to establish residency).

David Brooks has a column today about the meritocratic elite's pursuit of success over virtue. At some point virtue might demand that you give an honest accounting, even if it isn't the road to power. I'm not seeing evidence that this is how Mitt Romney operates. He still has some good qualities, and nobody is perfect.

Posted by: Grim at July 13, 2012 11:10 AM

"Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 10:36 AM"

Took the words outta my mouth regarding if I can't have a perfect candidate I'm going to take my ballot and go home attitude...
// which reminds the hun to check on the clothespin he's used at the polls for over a half century now. //

Posted by: bthun at July 13, 2012 11:28 AM

Well, do remember that I'm not a Republican. The party doesn't have to concern itself particularly with satisfying me; but on the other hand, I do sometimes vote for Republicans if they strike me as good people.

In this election, I don't have a candidate. I don't want to be governed by either of these men. Whether that means I vote for the candidate of my choice -- i.e., "None of the Above" on the write-in -- or for the least-bad of the two depends on my evaluation of whether getting rid of the most-bad is worth committing to the least-bad candidate not only this election cycle, but in 2016 as well.

In other words, do I want to help ensure that it is three election cycles before there is a chance that a candidate of whom I might approve appears on the ballot? That's asking a lot, even given the perfidy of the current administration.

Of course, it's also a question of significance to me only. Whatever I do, Mitt Romney will win Georgia handily. That might make it seem like it doesn't matter how I vote, or if I vote; but it does matter to me. It just doesn't have any effect on the world beyond me.

Posted by: Grim at July 13, 2012 11:46 AM

Grim, I can only say that yes it's possible for all those things to be true at once. A CEO can turn over all his primary responsibilites to his division heads, and still remain listed as CEO for SEC filing purposes. The word retired might not be the best choice but it does reflect the situation fairly. CEO is a legal title, but not necessarily indicative of the actual state of governance.

The Mass. business meetings, which ones? The Huffington article doesn't specify. Matbe he was at Board of Directors meetings for Staples, located in Framingham. Which I did note that the article was very careful to point out that Bain was a shareholder of Staples. They didn't delineate exactly what those meetings were. I wonder why.

Posted by: Allen at July 13, 2012 12:41 PM

Well, my gloomy day was made better by finding out by coming back to this site (on a whim) that my favorite blogger is back !

Posted by: Frodo at July 13, 2012 12:46 PM


You made my day, too :) How are you?

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 01:03 PM

I'm doing okay ... newly retired from the ARNG and trying to find things to occupy my weekends! How are you doing?

Posted by: Frodo at July 13, 2012 01:32 PM

I suspect that if Romney had returned to Bain, he would have continued to refer to the two-year hiatus as a leave of absence. Since he instead severed all his ties in 2001, he took to referring to it, in retrospect, as a retirement beginning in 1999. Why all this gnashing of teeth? To my mind, it doesn't even make him look shifty, let alone prove him a liar. But I have the disadvantage of knowing how corporate boards actually function when staffed with reasonably honest men.

It's a silly issue. Even WaPo can't take it seriously. Which doesn't mean it won't play brilliantly with zero-information swing voters; it's always hard to say what they'll wake up and notice at the last minute. "Didn't someone say he was a felon or something? Or was that the other guy?" The whole approach plays on the gut instinct of a potential Obama voter to distrust anyone involved with one of those rich, mean corporations. Man, this OWS stuff tires me out.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 13, 2012 01:33 PM

Congratulations on the retirement, Frodo!

We are doing fine. Last year was pretty crazy - we moved to a new house, the Unit retired from the Marines, I am with the same firm but in a new position. Things are finally settling down a bit.

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 01:52 PM

Man, this OWS stuff tires me out.

Amen to that.

Posted by: Cass at July 13, 2012 01:58 PM

"Even WaPo can't take it seriously. Which doesn't mean it won't play brilliantly with zero-information swing voters; it's always hard to say what they'll wake up and notice at the last minute."

Those voters and the Romney only spoke to the NAACP gathering to solidify his racists base voters wear me out...

Posted by: bthun at July 13, 2012 05:08 PM

For what it's worth, here's what Charles Krauthammer had to say about the Obama charges that Romney was a stealth Bain CEO (via The Corner):

I think there is not evidence on both sides on this; it’s all on one side. What happened is he left Bain capital suddenly. He was offered the job [with the Salt Lake Olympic Games] and nine days later accepted it. Bain is incredibly complex. Normally you have years to unwind a guy stepping down with all of the associated investment. He leaves in nine days. His own company, as you quoted, which included Obama contributors, said he had no involvement whatsoever — unequivocally ever — after that day. There is not a shred of evidence he was involved in anything after that date. He signed documents because officially, or at least technically, he had to unwind his position. That is all that you see in the SEC documents. No one showed otherwise. Factcheck.org, “The Washington Post,” not exactly a right wing rag, and a lot of other sources looked at this and said the charges are false.

Posted by: Elise at July 13, 2012 06:35 PM

The statements are not at all contradictory. In fact, that has been my exact situation the last 4 weeks. I have had no day to day control over my team, yet have retained my title and position. I have even responded to a few emails ("Business Meetings").

And my circumstance isn't at all unusual. It's called (P/M)aternity Leave. Hundreds of thousands of parents do it every year.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 14, 2012 12:22 PM

"// which reminds the hun to check on the clothespin he's used at the polls for over a half century now. //"

I woulda thought you'd have switched to a gas mask a few elections ago, b.
I know I did.

Posted by: DL Sly at July 14, 2012 01:41 PM

The bad news I see so far is that Obama and Romney are running neck-and-neck in polls. That says a lot about the electorate. In a country of real people, it would be at least 90% for Romney.

There's really no choice. Give Obama the country for 4 more years and we simply will not recognize it. I hardly recognize it now.

The big fight will come from the Unions. They may be complaining about Obama now, but they know where their support comes from: Democrats. I have a strong feeling this will be the dirtiest - and bloodiest - election in a long time.

Posted by: ZZMike at July 14, 2012 11:26 PM

I think your antidote to despair, might be the state of the economy. It will be difficult for Obama to win re-election with the economy retracting; even with the media painting rainbows on the numbers.

Posted by: EAE at July 15, 2012 10:27 AM

Thanks for your comments :)

Sometimes I just need to walk away from the Internet for a few days. There are times when I think the Net works like that dippy BioShield one of my former bosses used to wear to repel negative vibes from negative people.

When she was in one of her moods (which was frequently), we used to joke that she must have put it on backwards so it was concentrating the bad juju rather than bouncing it back on the people who were projecting the bad vibes :p

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2012 08:48 AM

For the record, my father-in-law was in a similar situation to Gov. Romney. He owned and operated a contracting company and had some other entity (I don't know if it was another individual or another company) buy him out. He was "retired". A few months later they came to him and said, "look... you've got all the contacts and know how to run this business, would you consult for us?" And he agreed and basically was on-call help for them. After a few more months of this, they said, "look... you know what you're doing here, and we really don't, would you mind running the company for us?" And once again, he agreed and took a very nice salary to take the reins again.

Now, was he "retired"? Yes, he sold his business and walked away. Was he attending "business meetings"? Absolutely, I heard him take calls while he was on family vacations. Did he later "come out of retirement"? Again, yes. None of those statements need be contradictory. And from what I gather, it happens all the time. A former CEO/owner-operator leaves, and the new guys find that they don't know all the moving parts and call him/her back in to show them where the bodies are buried. Is it dishonest to still say they're "retired"? I'd say no, because they're not officially (which is all the SEC cares about) in charge. But are they still "attending business meetings"? As long as they actually ARE, I don't see how that needs to conflict with the former.

Posted by: MikeD at July 16, 2012 09:35 AM