Those are the stark choices facing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, a fact that seem to be eluding members of the national political press corps as they play the "he said, he said" game of "objectivity" in Romney's dance around his tenure at Bain Capital.
Take for example today's New York Times' account of Romney's defensive media tour:
Proving his presence at Bain between 1999 and 2002 would create a direct link to what Mr. Obama’s team describes as the outsourcing of American jobs. And it would contradict Mr. Romney’s repeated assertions that by then he had left Bain, the private equity firm he founded, to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
Except the real issue is not Bain and Romney's role in outsourcing American jobs. It is Romney's inconsistent statements to state and federal authorities, written or spoken under some form of oath.But definitive proof about Mr. Romney’s activities remains elusive, leading to another day of increasingly bitter charges and countercharges from the two campaigns.
Romney was at it again during his TV blitz, offering a carefully parsed statement from his rustic New Hampshire vacation retreat:
“There’s a difference between being a shareholder — an owner, if you will — and being a person who’s running an entity."That's true -- as far as it goes, which is not very far. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission declare Romney as:
chief executive, president, chairman, and sole stockholder as late as 2002.Chief executive, something he is currently running for, is something far different -- at least to 99 percent of Americans -- than shareholder or owner. Decisions are made by and bucks stop with executives, presidents and chairmen.
Or, in the words of David Bernstein of The Boston Phoenix:
...he was apparently freely signing off on anything required of the president and owner, without, apparently, feeling like that meant he actually had any responsibility for anything happening at the company. It looks like legal, regulatory, and fiduciary responsibilities don't really mean anything to super-wealthy executive types -- not like when regular people sign employment documents, or mortgage documents, and so on."But if that is not clear enough, there are documents surrounding his 2002 run for Massachusetts governor that tell a different story.
First there's the testimony before the Ballot Law Commission -- which rejected a Democratic challenge to his Massachusetts residency because he was in Utah running the Salt Lake Olympics:
“When I left my employer in Massachusetts in February of 1999 to accept the Olympic assignment,” Romney testified before the state Ballot Law Commission on June 17, 2002, “I left on the basis of a leave of absence, indicating that I, by virtue of that title, would return at the end of the Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital, but subsequently decided not to do so and entered into a departure agreement with my former partners.”Romney also testified to "a number of social trips and business trips that brought [him] back to Massachusetts, board meetings” during his Olympic tenure. And financial disclosure records filed with the Commonwealth indicate:
... Romney earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.In criminal terms, there is circumstantial evidence but nothing "beyond a reasonable doubt" to prove Romney was directly involved in Bain decisions from 1999 until 2001 that resulted in Americans jobs being shipped overseas.
There is, however, substantial evidence that Romney has told different stories about those years to different authorities, tailoring his testimony to the circumstances that best suited him.
Among the nicknames hung on Romney by the press corps that knows him best is "Slick Willard." A popular blog tracking his gubernatorial tenure was entitled "Romney is a Fraud." Personally I've always been fond of "Myth" Romney.
His track record on veracity is the issue facing the national media, one they have done an abysmal job exploring to date.