Sure, Jenn, Obama Is Panicking, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 16 2012 @ 11:08am


Fallows thinks Obama is “Swiftboating” Romney, but “without the falsehoods”:

The effect of this kind of ‘Swiftboating’ is, as I pointed out, to change a candidate’s presumed strength into his weakness, or vulnerability. … Mitt Romney’s business background is not only his “presumed strength”; it is the entire basis of his campaign. His argument against Obama, which he presents with admirable discipline and clarity on the campaign trail, is:     – Obama said he would fix the economy;
    – the economy is still broken;
    – I am a business veteran;
    – therefore I am the man to fix this mess. If you don’t buy the last two parts of this sequence, you don’t buy anything about Romney’s candidacy at all.

Crowley argues along the same lines:

Attacking Bain, and Romney’s candor about his role there, is a way of defining the Republican’s character. Modern Democrats often bemoan the GOP’s alleged advantage in mounting character attacks. They haven’t forgotten the way the Swift Boating of John Kerry (unfairly) undermined Kerry’s credibility and patriotism, and the flip-flopping windsurfer attacks that followed. This week’s Bain offensive has partly been aimed at making Romney look slippery about a business record allegedly defined by selfishness and greed.

Josh Marshall nods:

The Obama team’s goal here is to make the entirety of Romney’s professional life toxic and off-limits before Romney even gets the chance to introduce himself to much of the public. And they’re off to a pretty good start.

Frum, who wishes we were having more substantive debates, thinks Romney looks weak:

[A]t every point, Romney has surrendered to the fringe of his party. Weak. And now in his first tough encounter with Barack Obama, Romney is being shoved around again. This is not what a president looks like – anyway, not a successful president.

Weigel notes that Mitt has boxed himself in:

The reason that Romney’s having trouble escaping this language trap is that it was built and baited by hasty “war room” responses.

Steven Taylor has the same thought:

The bottom line on all this … is that Romney wanted to be held harmless in politically difficult actions that Bain was involved in after February 1999, so he and his campaign obfuscated at best and lied at worst about his involvement and now they have been caught, yes? In other words: this is all fundamentally about a campaign mismanaging a potentially negative element of their candidate’s bio, by doing so, making it several orders of magnitude worse?

Drum thinks Romney “can’t run from Bain, and he shouldn’t have tried.” Mark Kleiman points out that Mitt has embraced the politically useful parts of Bain’s record: 

Note that Romney had no problem claiming credit for “job creation” by firms years after he left the company. It’s only the bad stuff he retroactivity stopped being responsible for.

Mother Jones has created a useful Bain timeline.