OBAMA IN BEDLAM: Dowd is confused!


Part 3—Two guides who help you get lost: Maureen Dowd is confused by Romney’s role at Bain after 1999.

Or is this deeply horrible person simply feigning confusion? Late in today’s imitation of life, she offers a helpful “quotation.” It heightens the sense of confusion:
DOWD (7/18/12): Romney contended that he had “no role” at Bain after 1999 when some of its companies went bankrupt, shipped jobs overseas and fired workers. He remained the firm’s chairman of the board, C.E.O., president and only stockholder until 2002. Other than that, he had nothing to do with the place.
Really? Did Romney (somewhere) contend that he had “no role” at Bain after 1999? If so, it certainly sounds like a lie, since he remained the firm’s chairman / C.E.O. / owner until 2002!

“Other than that, he had nothing to do with the place,” Dowd purrs, turning this apparent contradiction into an indictment of Romney’s truthfulness.

But when did Romney say he had “no role” at Bain during this period? In a statement which has been widely cited by those who are deeply confused about this, Romney did say he played no active role at Bain during this period. On Monday, Nicholas Confessore quoted that statement in a news report for the Times:
CONFESSORE (7/16/12): When Mr. Romney went on leave in 1999, he retained ownership of that entity—and with it, in theory at least, the power to control Bain Capital's funds.

At the time, Mr. Romney appeared to be leaving open the possibility that he would return to Bain. His leave was originally characterized as part time, and he told The Boston Herald in 1999 that he would be providing input on investment and personnel decisions in his absence.

Campaign and company officials now say that the Olympics job quickly became all-consuming and that Mr. Romney delegated his management powers to the active partners, most of them longtime friends and colleagues. And in recent years, Mr. Romney has been far more definitive in characterizing his departure.

''Since Feb. 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way,'' reads a footnote to Mr. Romney's most recent federal financial disclosures.
Romney was still the owner of Bain—but he says he played no active role in Bain’s operations. Whatever the facts may turn out to be, such a claim simply isn’t confusing.

This claim just isn't hard to follow. Unless, to borrow from Frost, you’re letting a guide direct you "who only has at heart your getting lost."

Maureen Dowd has been such a guide for several decades now. Has Romney said that he played “no role?” Or is Dowd inventing a quote, as she has done many times in the past, at a terrible cost to this country?

Has Romney said that he played “no role?” In the past week, that phrase has appeared just one other time in the New York Times in connection with this story. (According to Nexis, it hasn’t appeared in the Washington Post at all.) Below, you see the one other use of that phrase. It seems that Dowd is actually quoting reporter Michael Shear—and she’s quoting him out of context, as so she constantly does:
SHEAR (7/14/12): Mr. Romney reiterated on Friday that he had no role in running Bain after early 1999, when he left to take over management of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games. The Boston Globe reported Thursday on S.E.C. documents listing Mr. Romney as chief executive of Bain through 2002, a period in which Mr. Romney has said he was negotiating his formal departure from the company but was not involved in its management or investment decisions.
Oops. In this instance, Romney was being paraphrased—and if this is the source of Dowd’s “quotation,” Dowd took her one tiny phrase completely out of context. According to Shear, Romney said he played “no role” in running Bain after 1999; he wasn’t denying that he stayed on as owner. And indeed:

Sometimes owners don’t run their companies! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/17/12.) That fact that isn’t even slightly confusing—until people like Dowd pick up teams and start faking facts, as Dowd will always do.

Did Romney play any active role at Bain after 1999? We have no idea, and we can’t really see why it matters (see below). But many of the hustlers and hacks have been feigning confusion about this point. Last Saturday, Gail Collins was also deeply confused—or was she just feigning confusions?

“Let’s see if we can get this straight,” this very bad person said:
COLLINS (7/14/12): First, Bain Capital. Let's see if we can get this straight. In 1999, Mitt Romney quit his hyper-successful financial career at the private-equity firm in order to run the troubled Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. ''I would walk away from my leadership at Bain Capital at the height of its profitability and take a position without compensation,'' he wrote in his book ''Turnaround.''

He was out, gone—walked away. Get it? It is very important that you do because given the hysteria with which the Romney campaign is defending this 1999 termination marker, you would think that in the next few years Bain had embarked on a new and lucrative path involving the slave labor of My Little Ponies.

Romney gave five network television interviews on the subject on Friday. While it was true that a bunch of Securities and Exchange Commission filings submitted into the new millennium described Romney as Bain Capital's boss, that was a technicality, he told CNN.

Well, actually, he said, ''I was the owner of an entity that is filing that information.'' Also that there's a difference between an owner and ''a person who's running an entity.''

It was Romney's Star Trek moment. They were always talking about entities on Star Trek, and entities were very seldom good news.


So to summarize: Romney was at Bain after 1999, but not necessarily in the sense of occupying physical space. He was employed by folks in Utah, but not in the sense of the people who made out his paycheck.

If we ever manage to really get our heads around Higgs boson, perhaps we will also be able to understand the Mitt Romney Olympics period.
Diddling herself and longing for sleep—the sleep that lets us forget who we are—this very bad person was very confused about this puzzling issue. How could someone be owner of Bain and yet not be running the company?

To Collins, this was a Star Trek moment. It was very hard to fathom, not unlike the Higgs boson.

In comments, we rubes bought her line.

In truth, there’s nothing confusing about Romney’s claims concerning this period. Nor is it obvious that his basic claim is untrue. In Confessore’s news report, he wrote that “no evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds' investments after he left.” It’s entirely possible that Romney’s basic claim about this period is largely accurate.

Romney’s claim about this period may be essentially true. But now that Dear Leader has taken a stance regarding this period, the lazy gods of the mainstream “press corps” feel themselves called to serve.

The mainstream press corps has largely adopted an anti-Romney line on this general matter. And crackers! Once horrible people like Collins and Dowd adopt their stance on some such topic, the dissembling, distortions and misstatements will follow in short order.

So will the stupidity. In fact, Bain misbehaved in egregious ways all through Romney’s tenure. As Alec MacGillis notes in this post, Bain engaged in grotesque misconduct in “the case of Dade Behring, the medical supply firm whose demise at the hands of Bain was retold in the strong new Vanity Fair piece about Romney.”

Horrible people like Collins and Dowd don’t waste their time retelling such stories—stories involving the looting of average people, the kind of people our high ladies tend to disdain. They prefer to gambol and play with approved narratives from their Dear Leader, an official tale they may drive along with help from misleading “quotes.”

The ladies are taking their lead from Dear Leader. That said, stories of egregious misconduct litter the record at Bain. It’s stupid to think that all is lost if you we can’t directly blame Romney for decisions made after 1999, when he actually was in Utah doing a different job.

It’s stupid to think that all is lost if you can’t nail Romney for this period. But people like these are lazy and stupid—and, of course, they’re not honest.

What is the point of this feigned confusion? In part, the children are trying to make Romney a liar about this point; this is a game they’ve played in the past, and they know how to play it quite well. To help you reach the conclusions they like, they will play you in various ways—and, in the current instance, we gullible liberals love it.

Unfortunately, these people have played this game in the past against major liberals, with disastrous outcomes. And if we let these fools retain power, they will live to play their games against progressives again.

The record at Bain is a full-blown disgrace, but people like Collins, Dowd and Charles Blow are too lazy and feckless to tell it. Warning: You are being misinformed and under-informed about a wide array of topics as these very bad people conduct their latest low-IQ war against a major candidate.

On Friday, we’ll show you the full set of facts about tax returns from other recent nominees. Steve Kornacki has under-informed you a bit in this post, as many other guides have done. We’ll give you a fuller record.

But before we reach that grand finale, we’ll continue to ponder the feigned confusion sweeping the land. And by the way: Does Obama believe the stuff he’s saying about outsourcing?

We’re waiting for Yglesias to say more at Slate. Yesterday, Kevin Drum weighed in this point:

No, the gentleman pretty much said, unless we’re misreading his point.

We’ve been living in Bedlam for many years now. In Bedlam, horrible people like Collins and Dowd get accepted by liberals as seers.

Tomorrow: Does the Boston Globe read the Boston Globe? Also, what happened at Dade Behring?


  1. Times standards require that stuff inside quotation marks must be actual quotations. Unfortunately, standards of accuracy don't apply to their opinion pages, particularly when the substandard material makes conservatives look bad.

    Maureen Dowd has reminded us why "Dowdification" has become a word, It's defined as:

    The willful omission of one or more words so the meaning of the statement is no longer understood but that the statement suits the needs of the writer in launching an ad hominem attack whether or not the construction is truthful or grammatically complete.


  2. Maybe it's just me, but I view the Chief Executive Officer as an "active" position in the company. Also, signing 13D statements for the SEC re Bain investments to me implies some degree of activity. And representing under oath to the state of MA that you have been returning to the state for some business functions and board meetings for Bain-owned companies to me implies some degree of activity. I know, that's just me. But Romney himself has now stated otherwise. Well, case closed...Mitt said it! As Bob said, it's "entirely possible" that Mitt's statements are "largely accurate" and "may be essentially true". Well put.

    1. The Anonymous IdiotJuly 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      "no evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds' investments after he left"

      But that's just what the news reporting says.

      Me, I take my cues from how Mitch4949 "views" things.

    2. Basically what I'm thinking. SEC filings didn't say that he just owned the place, as Somerby implies in this post. They said he took an active role, or at least Bain claimed he took an active role. "CEO" and "chairman of the board" are both active roles, unless those words have no meaning anymore.

      Being in Utah has neither here nor there. I have vague memories of the year 2000, and I believe that email, telephones, and airplanes had already been invented.

      Furthermore, I don't see how Somerby can criticize Obama personally. Is there any evidence that Obama has an active role in his campaign? It's entirely possible that he had nothing to do with those ads about outsourcing and that he doesn't know anything about them. Why, he has a job in DC, far away from campaign HQ in Chicago, so how could he possibly have seen these ads?


    3. To my knowledge, Somerby has NOT focused his criticism on Obama's campaigning. He's focused his criticism on the media's coverage of Bain, especially those who have adopted the role of Obama's cheerleaders. It's fair criticism. They see their role to provide as much heat as possible on whatever happens to be the agreed upon media meme of the day/week. Somerby thinks their job should be to provide light first and foremost, not just heat. Their efforts to provide heat to issues often obscures the reality and generally do not reflect a well thought-out political strategy much less journalistic strategy. Just my take.

  3. God knows I'm no Dowd fan, but I don't see this column as particularly problematic. I don't doubt that an owner could become remote, for extended periods, from the operations of their company (not just day-to-day operations but even strategic planning), certainly when they are extremely busy and have entrusted those operations to people they have worked with for years and profoundly trust. But Romney wasn't just an owner of Bain; he was its CEO and head of its board, at least some (possibly all) of whose meetings he not only attended while running the Olympics but, presumably, chaired. I'm less interested in what all this may mean for his role in approving (or not) outsourcing (I don't need more evidence of the man's economic priorities) and more for what it may mean for the man's fundamental honesty. Another example of Mitt's trimming? Looks very possible.

    Agreed, the larger record of Bain is the more important issue. Even more important, we should be challenging the notion that knowing a lot about business and finance is a particularly valuable qualification for the presidency. But I don't see why there isn't also room for some attention to the issues getting journalists' and pundits' attention this week. Why Bob S. finds their coverage so confusing, I don't know.