The fuss over the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s record at Bain Capital continued over the weekend and through Monday. Appearing on the Rachel Maddow show, Cory Booker tried to clarify his remarks made on Meet the Press, remarks he made in reaction to an Obama campaign ad that attacks Mitt Romney over his record at Bain.
On Monday, interviewed by MSNBC, David Axelrod, the president’s senior campaign strategist said of Booker, “In this particular instance, he was just wrong.” The reasoning is as follows: since Romney himself references his private sector experience, the Obama campaign has every right to do likewise. In fact, Booker himself holds this position, as he made clear:
“Mitt Romney had made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. He’s talked about himself as a job creator. And therefore, it is reasonable, and in fact I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and discuss it. I have no problem with that.”
The GOP is feverishly trying to capitalize (an appropriate term) on Booker’s original remarks while Romney is claiming the Obama campaign is committing “character assassination” by pointing out that he is lying through his teeth. It’s easy to see why a Republican would feel the truth is character assassination; after all, if saying “no” to a Christian claiming it has sole rights to your womb is a war on Christianity, then saying “no” to a rich man is character assassination. In other words, Republicans have a right to lie but Democrats don’t have a right to say they’re lying. The Obama campaign’s response to this economic voodooism was the correct one: to press their strategy and release another critical web video.
Obama himself was unapologetic. At 4:28 in the afternoon, the Obama campaign tweeted:
And a few minutes later, at the NATO summit press conference, President Obama seemed to elaborate on this theme, saying that “This issue is not a quote ‘distraction,'”:
“My view of private equity is that it is, it is set up to maximize profits and that is a healthy part of the free market, of course. That’s part of the role of a lot of business people. That is not unique to private equity. My representatives have said repeatedly and I will say today, I think there are folks who do good work in that area and there are times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs or new industries. But understand their priority is to maximize profits, and that is not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers. And the reason this is relevant to the campaign is that because my opponent, Gov. Romney, the main calling card for why he should be president is his business experience. He is not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts, he is saying, ‘I am a business guy and I know how to fix it,’ and this is his business. And when you are president as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. … And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is, ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you are missing what this job is about.”
Romney is essentially saying to the rich and powerful, “Make me president and I will not only protect the wealth you already have, but make you richer.” To everyone else, Romney is saying, “Make rich people richer and you’ll be better off.”
Of course, they won’t be better off. After 8 years of the same economic policies Romney is touting, nobody in America was better off; in fact, the economy collapsed. After going on four years of Republican obstructionism, we are even worse off. But Republicans will continue to preach trickledown economics until they are forced to stop.
President Obama has called them out for this lie, exposed the fact that the government is not a corporation, that they have different goals, and that (attitudes of the Gilded Age to which Republicans want to return aside) maximizing profits for the rich isn’t what the United States is about. Again, Obama has stood up for the average American, reinforcing his idea that they too have a stake in this country and that it is about them every bit as much as it is about Romney and other wealthy Americans.
Though Obama has not called himself Robin Hood, according to the scenario created by Romney strategists, that is exactly who Obama is in this modern morality tale. By waging “class warfare” (their claim) and taking money from the rich to give to the poor, Obama is Robin Hood, because that is exactly what Robin Hood did. And it is Robin Hood who is the hero, not the rapacious Sheriff of Nottingham.
The money Robin Hood took from the rich belonged originally to the poor, creating yet another conjunction between the English folk hero and the President of the United States: Robin Hood only existed as a response to this top-down oppression that is the heart and soul of the Romney platform.
Mitt Romney can claim, as he did Monday, that “President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work,” but Romney himself is failing to accept moral responsibility for his “enrich Mitt Romney” campaign during his time at Bain, a campaign that significantly increased Romney’s assets while laying off average Americans and running companies into the ground for profit – just as the Obama campaign has demonstrated.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, appearing on The Ed Show Monday put it best: “Why should Romney be able to escape responsibilty when he talks about, judge me on my business record — and it stinks?”