Just as we liberals have done: How does Romney escape on Bain?
Consider what happened at last night’s debate when Gingrich actually asked the right question. Responding to a prompt by John King, Gingrich asked about one of the steel mills Bain and Romney seem to have looted:
KING (1/19/12): I want you to be specific. What do you think he did wrong [as CEO of Bain Capital] that makes you question his ability as a president to create jobs?Earth to Gingrich: The average voter doesn’t know what “dramatically leveraged” means. But Georgetown Steel is one of the steel mills Reuters reported on two weeks ago. In this case of these two steel mills, Bain borrowed a big pile of money; gave itself a large pay-out; then proceeded to underfund the company’s pension fund. As a result, when the company went belly-up, the federal government had to step in to bail out the underfunded pension system. Even with the federal bailout, the workers lost a good chunk of their pensions along with all their promised health coverage.
GINGRICH: I think there are specific cases—Georgetown Steel would be a case here, and a company in Gaffney, South Carolina—specific cases where Bain Capital's model, which was to take over a company and dramatically leverage it, leave it with a great deal of debt, made it less likely to survive.
I think the governor ought to explain, because—it started because he cited his experience as a key part of his preparation for being president. And so I think the underlying model of that kind of investment, which is very different from venture capital, ought to be explained, and those cases ought to be looked at.
KING: Well, Governor Romney, let me give you a chance. Explain.
Did we mention that Bain had taken large payouts for itself? Even as it failed to maintain the pension system? That Romney got rich; that the employees got screwed; that the federal government had to make up a pile of the missing money?
That’s the particular situation about which Gingrich inquired! It’s interesting to see the way Romney escaped this mess.
First, Romney gave a long, rambling answer in which he battered Obama without addressing Gingrich’s question at all. To his credit, King actually noticed this small omission. But look how he restated the question when he followed up:
KING: So, so let's go—let's go back. I'm glad you had that opportunity. I do want to go back, see if we can clear this up.Sad. As we told you a few days ago, journalists will instinctively want to discuss that simpler, less threatening question—the question about the number of jobs Romney and Bain may have “created.”
Now the questions about Bain, many have been about the number. You have said 120,000 jobs that you can tie back to decisions you made at Bain Capital. I want you to take your time, sir, and do the math. Do the math, and how you get to 100,000 or 120,000 jobs?
Gingrich had asked about a matter which goes to the heart of Bain’s alleged bad conduct. Romney completely avoided that question—and then, when King tried to restate it, he switched to the easy-to-answer, less threatening question about “how many jobs.”
Romney had no trouble answering that easier question. That isn't the question Newt asked.
In a way, you can't blame King, who may not even undertand this topic. Even the fiery “liberals” at MSNBC have almost completely avoided this topic. Ed Schultz has tried to discuss the Reuters report, though he was quite unclear most nights. As best we can tell from the Nexis archives, Rachel, Lawrence, Chris and Al don’t seem to have gone there at all.
Romney made a classic escape last night, guided to a safer place by King. But can you blame the CNN host? It has now been two solid weeks since Reuters filed that detailed report. And even the fiery hosts on The One True Channel have thrown that report down the well.
King let Romney walk last night. Darling Rachel, our own willful child, has let Mitt walk as well.
The mind of Lawrence O’Donnell: What have our fiery progressive leaders been talking about instead? Here’s Lawrence, teasing some upcoming segments on Wednesday evening’s Last Word:
O’DONNELL (1/18/12): Coming up! The captain of the Italian cruise ship has a new reason today for why he did not stay on board the Costa Concordia as it sank.Exciting! Lawrence spent the second half of his program on three topics: A shipwreck, a true Hollywood murder mystery, and someone who dropped an F-bomb. Right on TV! In prime time!
And in the "Rewrite" tonight, someone on another network in primetime drops an "F" bomb tonight. Who did it? Who— What family is so modern that even the kids can drop "F" bombs? That's coming up.
O’DONNELL: Coming up! After five days of searching for survivors, the Italian Coast Guard has suspended the search, knowing that there are 21 still missing who are probably trapped on that ship.
And later, how two hikers and their dogs made a gruesome discovery yesterday on a popular trail near the Hollywood sign that is now the opening scene of a true Hollywood murder-mystery.
Here’s how he closed his progressive program just one night before:
O’DONNELL (1/17/12): Joining me now from the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada, owner and proprietor and HBO star Dennis Hof and two women who work for him, Hustler centerfold Cami Parker and Miss Caressa Kisses.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hof’s double entendres weren’t quite as sweet as the ones we got from Keith. But people! Evangelical leaders had endorsed Santorum! So only naturally, Lawrence wanted to know who the “girls” at the Bunny Ranch had endorsed!
Dennis, thank you very much. And women, thank you for joining me tonight. Dennis, while the Evangelicals were having their discussion down at that ranch in Texas, at your ranch you were discussing with your employees who you want to support for president. And who is that?
HOF: Well, here’s what happened. You know, the girls love a good caucus. And I polled all the girls, all 500 girls, and it came up with this.
Romney escaped last night thanks to King. That said, the gentleman has escaped for two solid weeks on this sad and ridiculous channel. But then, we live in a very sad world, full of sad millionaire men.