The problem isn’t with private equity or, er, “raping” companies, he says, it’s simply a matter of challenging Romney’s claim of being a job creator. Which, of course, is a lie: Go back and watch Obama’s brutal ad about GST Steel, replete with a worker comparing Romney and Bain to a “vampire.” It’s an attack on Romney’s character, not his job-creating prowess, which is in keeping with the whole tenor of the battle over Bain. Ostensibly it’s an argument over employment numbers but in reality each side wants something deeper out of it. Romney wants voters to come away thinking he’s a business genius even though some of his projects resulted in layoffs; Obama wants voters to come away thinking he’s Gordon Gekko redux, a cold-blooded moneybags who’d sell out the working man for a dollar. Neither of those messages depend much on whether Romney’s Bain tenure netted a gain or loss in jobs overall, but that’s the line Patrick is pushing to try to thread the needle between hurting Romney and not offending Wall Street donors.

As for why we’re talking about Bain instead of the comprehensive failure of western welfare states, even Obama pal David Brooks doesn’t know:

While American companies operate in radically different ways than they did 40 years ago, the sheltered, government-dominated sectors of the economy — especially education, health care and the welfare state — operate in astonishingly similar ways.

The implicit argument of the Republican campaign is that Mitt Romney has the experience to extend this transformation into government.

The Obama campaign seems to be drifting willy-nilly into the opposite camp, arguing that the pressures brought to bear by the capital markets over the past few decades were not a good thing, offering no comparably sized agenda to reform the public sector.

In a country that desperately wants change, I have no idea why a party would not compete to be the party of change and transformation. For a candidate like Obama, who successfully ran an unconventional campaign that embodied and promised change, I have no idea why he would want to run a campaign this time that regurgitates the exact same ads and repeats the exact same arguments as so many Democratic campaigns from the ancient past.

I’ll leave the commenters to answer the question implicit in that last sentence. And here’s another question for you to chew on: Is Patrick’s spin here that the Bain debate is actually an argument over how many jobs Romney created and not an attack on his character something that the White House came up with or just a case of Patrick freelancing? As governor of Massachusetts he has a heavy incentive to stay on the side of deep-pocketed Bain employees, so maybe this is just him going the Cory Booker route and hedging bets. But he is, famously, a good friend of Obama’s, and by now the White House must be desperate to find a uniform message that all of their Bain surrogates can use. This might be it.