Carpet bombing campaign
By Michael H. O’Donnell
When you win some battles using carpet bombing it might seem to be a tad disingenuous to complain when a new opponent unleashes the same attack strategy. It’s hard to claim higher moral ground when you’re still busy raking up the bones from your last political sortie.
Unless you’re Mitt Romney – and you’re running for president.
Pro-Obama Political Action Committees and President Obama himself have been hammering the field with Bain Capital bombs and Romney went on television numerous times last week to cry foul. On Friday alone he appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN.
Romney said the ads that have been blistering his past involvement with the company he founded to make millions by purchasing struggling companies and later selling them for a profit – whether they succeeded or failed – have been rife with misrepresentations and falsehoods.
The Republican candidate said such conduct is below “the standards expected of the presidency of the United States.”
At the heart of what Romney perceives as low blows is the assertion that although he has claimed he left Bain in 1999 to take over the struggling Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he continued to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that listed him as Bain’s sole shareholder and owner. Documentation lists him as CEO and president of the company through 2002.
What difference do a couple of years make? Plenty. It was during the 1999 to 2002 period that Bain dropped the bomb on hundreds of American workers by shuttering businesses in the U.S. and sending jobs overseas.
In the battlefield of politics where negative ads rain down on voters hiding in the bunkers until election day, smoke has a tendency to hide the truth. The sheer noise of explosive allegations and comments leaves us stumbling around with ringing ears.
If the Democratic army had been the first to unleash a bombing campaign that relies on sheer firepower more than accuracy, Romney’s indignation would seem more sincere. However, given the fact the pro-Romney Super-PAC, Restore Our Future, spent about $20 million doing the same thing to primary opponents Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, the crocodile tears seem out of place.
A study of Restore Our Future ads by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the pro-Romney crew spent $8.8 million worth of what it deemed “dollars in deception” attacking Gingrich and $9.4 million worth of fibs attacking Santorum between the Iowa and Wisconsin primary contests.
Back then candidate Romney distanced himself from the dirty business of negative advertising and said PAC activities were beyond his control. He said this with a straight face knowing the key political strategist for Restore Our Future was political director of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, its treasurer is Romney’s former chief counsel, and its media whiz had been part of Romney’s media team.
I guess it’s kind of like his divorce from Bain Capital back in 1999. What happened may have benefited him personally, but it was done without his personal control.
Obama hasn’t wagged his finger at any alleged outside group for the Bain attacks. He has endorsed them. The president has publicly stated that questions about when Romney left Bain are a legitimate part of the campaign.
Voters have to imagine they’re at least as legitimate as Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s endless quest to question Obama’s country of birth. What happened to someone as an adult when they were in charge of a multi-million dollar company has to have at least as much weight as a toddler who may have been sporting Kenyan diapers.
Which brings me to another sack of poo – political campaigns in America.
Instead of presenting voters with clear choices about specific strategies to handle real problems, candidates engage in a whirling dervish of deals without details – a dance for dunces.
A shout of “we’re going to restore America” rises above the dance floor.
Perhaps the first restoration should be killing the practice of telling people not to do what you do, but to do what you say. Let’s restore tried and true principles like the Golden Rule.
Common sense could be restored to the notion of corporate versus individual identity when it comes to free speech protection. We could restore our civility when discussing differences of opinion and accept some of the blame for how whacked American priorities have become.
The person with the largest wad of cash in his pocket isn’t always the one to be admired most. Mathew 19:24 comes to my mind: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Sticking that needle in someone else’s butt doesn’t help.
Michael H. O’Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.