I still can’t believe this “secretive” accusation from the Democrats is even a thing.
“You know, this is a campaign for president of the United States. Mitt Romney is running for president of the United States. He and his campaign leadership need to put their big boy and big girl pants on and defend his record,” DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC today.
“They don’t want to show us his record. They’re running the most secretive campaign for president of a major party in history,” she added.
As I chronicled last week, painting Mitt Romney as a shady agent of potentially nefarious financial dealings with the accountability-street cred of Richard Nixon seems to be the new Obama campaign’s newest modus operandi. His campaign team completely jumped the shark and made themselves look ridiculous by publicly speculating that Mitt Romney may-or-may-not be a felon before getting the facts, but yes, it’s the Romney campaign that needs to put on their big-boy pants.
I actually agree with the sentiment that the Romney camp could step up their game a bit — but for an entirely different reason. I think Mitt Romney needs to go on the offense with his record at Bain Capital, because at the end of the day, he performed a perhaps unpleasant at its face but very vital service to the ever-moving mechanisms of free enterprise and economic growth. Perhaps this perilously close election isn’t the wisest time to work on reversing the overriding populism of the national dialogue — that’s why the Democrats are so keen on seeing Romney’s tax returns, so they can glean more fodder for their Romney-is-too-wealthy-and-out-of-touch narrative — but it’s gotta’ happen at some point or else we’re in trouble:
But really, what Mitt Romney was doing in 2000 is beside the point. Romney founded one of America’s leading private equity firms. What private equity does is take underperforming firms and make them more profitable, sometimes by closing facilities and sending operations overseas. If he can’t defend Bain’s 1999-2002 record on the merits, he can’t defend its record from 1984 to 1999 either.
Romney tries to confuse this issue by focusing on a handful of firms he was involved in founding, like Staples and Bright Horizons. Essentially, he talks about his work as though he had been in venture capital, not private equity. But an essential part of private equity is shutting down things that don’t work, or are too expensive. To succeed in private equity, you have to be comfortable being the hatchet man.
The funny thing is that, framed correctly, Romney could turn this into an asset. There are large parts of the government that don’t work or are too expensive. There is a culture in government of continuing to do things just because we’ve always done them, and continuing to employ people because we have always employed them. This doesn’t just make government expensive, it also crowds out resources that could be spent on improvements of public services.