Friday, July 13, 2012

Taking responsibility

Here is President Obama explaining clearly and succinctly why Mitt Romney needs to take responsibility for the actions of Bain Capital:


As President Obama explains,
"my understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does."
(transcript here)

As I have tried to make clear in previous posts on this topic, the issue is not whether Mitt Romney was or was not involved in Bain management decisions during the period from 1999 through 2002 when he left Bain to manage the Olympics. The issue is whether Romney remained responsible for Bain management decisions during that time because he continued to serve as an officer and director.

How does Mitt Romney respond to that question, when he took to the airwaves today to answer the Obama campaign's charges? He doesn't.

Notice that when Romney is asked a direct question about official company documents stating that he was the CEO of Bain Capital, he completely sidesteps the question about his role as an officer and director of the company and instead obfuscates by talking only about his share ownership of Bain:
'But there's a difference between being a shareholder, an owner, if you will, and being a person who's running an entity. And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February 1999."
 (transcript here) OK Mitt, we understand the difference between an owner and the person running the entity. But you were listed as running the entity. What about that?

I looked over as many as I could find of the transcripts of the other interviews Romney gave today on this topic. (ABC, CBS, NBC)  I could not find a single acknowledgement that, even if he stayed out of decision-making at Bain during that 1999-2002 period, Romney remained legally responsible for the corporation's activities by virtue of his status as an officer and director. Romney did not even want to admit that he in fact continued to serve as an officer and director for three years after he left Bain.

The question raised by the Obama campaign, as was clearly framed in the president's interview today, was whether Romney stayed attached to Bain as an officer and director. Mitt Romney has ducked the question, the way he is attempting to duck responsibility for anything that happened at Bain while he retained his officer and director positions.

Can you picture this guy as president? Let's say someone asks him about a decision by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Romney might respond: "What do you want from me? I was out of the country at the time, dealing with a crisis in Syria or wherever. I had no role in that decision." Say a drone attack goes off target somewhere on the other side of the world. Romney would probably shrug his shoulders: "Hey, it's not that I'm not proud of our military. I just happened to be nowhere near the Pentagon at the time."

Several times during today's interviews, Romney tried to explain that, it's not that he is embarrassed to have been associated with Bain during the period in question. It's just that he had nothing to do with Bain during that time frame. That will not do. Your name is on the letterhead. You have to take responsibility. Period. Why does it seem so congenitally difficult for Romney to accept that responsibility? Why does avoiding the facts and making excuses come so naturally to him?

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