Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been facing down some pretty hardcore attack ads from the Obama camp, relating to his tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm which he co-founded in 1984. The issue in question is when, exactly, Romney left Bain -- Romney’s campaign has been saying it was 1999, which has the convenient side effect of keeping Romney’s participation out of job outsourcing Bain did shortly afterward.
This is important mostly because so much of the Romney campaign message rests on his promise to create jobs in the US -- having a background in which Romney oversaw massive layoffs and outsourcing to other countries doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence on this point.
So, the Romney campaign has dodged the issue by repeatedly stating that Romney was off in Salt Lake City single-handedly saving the 2002 Winter Olympics -- and valiantly protecting the USA’s global image -- therefore he had nothing to do with Bain after 1999.
Unluckily for Romney, however, documents have surfaced that show that Romney was still listed as Bain Capital’s chief executive in Securities and Exchange Commission filings until 2002, a job for which he was also drawing a six-figure paycheck during that time, at a company where he was the sole stockholder. BUT -- the Romney campaign would have us believe -- he had nothing to do with the company after 1999, in spite of these facts.
Why does this matter? The Obama campaign will inevitably frame it as a big question mark over Mitt Romney’s character. In the fightin’ words of Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter:
“Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony,” Cutter said, “Or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”
Cue the inevitable demand for an apology from Romney, and a GFY from Obama, blah blah blah.
Whether this issue is all that important in the grander scheme is yet to be determined, but it has put Romney on the defensive when worse than expected jobs numbers should have set him up to land a few punches of his own to the Obama campaign. Questions about Bain have continued to dog him. They had to be dealt with.
But rather than come up with an explanation that makes sense, Romney advisor Ed Gillespie defended his captain on CNN on Sunday by explaining to Candy Crowley that the simple truth of the matter is, “He took a leave of absence and, in fact, Candy, he ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result.”
The “retroactive retirement” means that even though Romney did not formally depart from Bain Capital until 2002, we the people are being asked if we could kindly accept that said retirement actually took place in 1999, retroactively. Can't we be cool about this, you guys?
Think about that for a minute.
I mean really, what if this actually worked? For normal people, even? What if you could retroactively make decisions that would suddenly improve your standing in life?
My first thought was to wonder if I am now allowed to retroactively quit grad school as of 1999, which I presume would make my student loans magically disappear. And since Mitt’s not giving back his Bain paychecks from those two years, I figure it’s only fair that I can decide to keep my degrees. Like, as souvenirs. That’s all they’re really good for anyway.
What if I retroactively cleaned my house every week religiously starting from when we moved in in 2003? Holy shit you guys, my baseboards are SPARKLING.
How about I retroactively make a slightly wider turn in the parking garage where I sideswiped a support pillar in 2004, causing four grand in damage to my car and for which my insurance rates freaking skyrocketed?
AND, I would like to retroactively shred all credit card offers received by me between the years of 1996-2002 UNOPENED.
I would also like to retroactively quit smoking to the day before I started smoking in 1995, even though I quit smoking “formally” in 2001.
Finally, I'd appreciate the opportunity to retroactively turn down the worst date of my adult life so that the resulting multi-hour horror show in which 90% of the conversation centered on the recently-dumped dude’s ex never happened.
(He was a nice guy, really, but the date was like a poorly-conceived SNL sketch in which I could bring up ANY TOPIC and he would sigh wistfully and go, "[Ex-Girlfriend] used to [have an opinion] about [subject]." Also he had weird hands; his fingers were really pointy, not in the verb sense of pointing at things, but in the sense that they sort of tapered to a point. I realize it is unbecoming to identify the dumb superficial things that can limit our attraction to a potential partner but for my whole dating life, weird hands were a dealbreaker.)
By Sunday night, #retroactively was the top trending topic on Twitter, tailor-made as it is for instant viral meme-fame.
What would you do, retroactively? Even on a small scale? I think it’d be grand if I could retroactively not spill coffee on myself this morning. OH OH and I would like to buy every dress, bag, and pair of shoes I ever wavered on and then regretted not purchasing, retroactively.
If all of this comes true, I sure hope it doesn’t mean I have to vote for Romney.