If so, the results are flawed: Has your Daily Howler been getting results?
We have no idea. But on Monday night, Rachel Maddow did a report on the Obama campaign’s new ad about Romney and Bain. In her sprawling ruminations, the former Rhodes Scholar went all the way back to Romney’s 1994 senate race against Ted Kennedy, in which Kennedy attacked Romney’s record at Bain.
Has your Daily Howler been getting results? In the course of an error-riddled report, Maddow offered the highlighted statements. To watch the full segment, click here:
MADDOW (5/14/12): Right now in 2012, Mr. Romney does not want to run on his record as Massachusetts governor. He wants to run on Bain. He wants to run on what he did for America at Bain.Let’s ignore Maddow’s ridiculous attempts at campaign strategery. At several points, she tried to say that Bain looted companies for very large sums even as it underfunded their pension plans. “The taxpayers [had] to pick up the pensions after Romney and company ran off with the company’s money,” she said.
It’s because he has put Bain at the center of his campaign, as really his sole credential for the presidency, that explains why details about what he did at Bain can be so devastating to his candidacy. What he actually did at Bain may be the most devastating things that will be said about Mr. Romney throughout the entire campaign.
So if that’s the case, you have to wonder, strategically, is president’s re-election campaign doing this too soon? It is only May, after all. You would think they would want to save the Bain thing so it would be ringing through voters’ ears 5 1/2 months from now when people are going to the polls.
Turns out, don’t worry. There’s plenty more to say where this came from. One thing the Ted Kennedy campaign used against Mitt Romney back in 2004—excuse me, back in 1994—that the Obama campaign has not yet used, is the fact that as Mr. Romney and company shut down these American factories and made tens of millions of dollars for themselves and put hundreds of Americans out of work, they also sometimes shut down these factories and put people out of work in a way that made sure that you, the American taxpayer, would have to cover the laid-off workers’ pension costs. Yes.
So Bain and company profited. Taxpayers had to clean up behind them for all the people they laid off. Private profit, public risk. Does that sound familiar?
Big action by big business that is hugely profitable. But when it goes bad, the people who took those big risks, who got rich off them, they didn’t have to pay for them going pad, taxpayers had to pay for it going bad. That is part of the Romney at Bain story that I think the Obama campaign must be planning on rolling out later in the campaign.
The taxpayers having to pick up the pensions after Romney and company ran off with the company’s money? Yeah! I think that is still to come.
Did Romney loot pension funds, requiring a bailout? As far we know, this was the first time anyone except Ed Schultz had said such a thing at The One True Liberal Channel.
What was the source for Maddow’s claim? Hungrily, we checked her web site, which directed us to this Politico report from July 2011. No other source was cited for Maddow’s account of the looted pension funds.
Can we talk? As is often the case on this ballyhooed program, Maddow’s report was crawling with errors:
That Politico report has nothing to do with pension funds.
As far as we know, the sole documented case of pension-looting involves that steel mill in Kansas City. This unseemly episode occurred after 1994.
Relatively minor point: The Politico piece does refer to an ad which was created for the Kennedy campaign. But it clearly says that the ad was never run. This ad, and the issue it concerned, was not a part of Kennedy’s successful attack on Romney.
More significant point: When Romney looted the pension funds, it wasn’t “the taxpayers” who had to step in. Repeatedly, Maddow made this representation, and it certainly heightened her claim. But the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation isn’t funded by tax revenues, even though it’s a government entity.
For our money, the worst part of this report involved Maddow’s posing as a campaign strategist. Should the Obama campaign “save the Bain thing so it would be ringing through voters’ ears 5 1/2 months from now when people are going to the polls?”
Please. We don’t know which is worse—Maddow’s attempts at strategery, or the all-knowing way she delivers her ideas to her viewers. And by the way: Ted Kennedy’s attacks on Romney’s conduct at Bain happened in blue-state Massachusetts, back in 1994, as Romney ran against a liberal icon. It isn’t smart to assume that such attacks will be magic in the present national campaign, absent a strong attempt at explaining the issues to voters.
Maddow isn't real good at talking to regular voters, whom she sometimes seems to despise and rarely seems to understand.
Strategerization to the side, Maddow’s staff seemed a bit confused on some basic facts. That report from Politico doesn’t deal with pension funds. It seems to us that it deals with a rather murky episode which would be hard to use in an attack, although judgments may differ on that.
That said, where the heck did Maddow’s staff get its new line about pension funds? Someone out there has been getting results, even if the results in question were riddled with errors, as always.
Are we being too snippy: We aren't big fans of Maddow or of her ballyhooed very-smart program. Because she covers some very important topics, we wish she would get off her high horse and her keister and produce better work.
We're sure that she's a very nice person, especially within her own tribe. Unfortunately, the bulk of the public doesn't belong to our tribe.