With the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” on Friday and the Obama Campaigns’s continued attacks on Mitt Romney’s record while at Bain Capital, the question of the week has to be, Which will be the bigger story, Bane or Bain?
Set eight years after “The Dark Knight,” the new film catches up with millionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as his fortune is dwindling, his body is battered (he has a permanent limp and walks with a cane) and his alter-ego of Batman is still at large and wanted for the murder of Harvey Dent (played in the previous movie by Aaron Eckhart).
The crime rate in Gotham City has plummeted under the watch of Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), who continues to feed the lie that Dent died a hero, using him as a martyr to help keep the peace. Then the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked thug with a penchant for brutal violence, emerges from the city’s sewers. He brings an army with him.
Just as the second of Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight, was an allegory for America in a post-9/11 world, so, too, is The Dark Knight Rises a broken mirror reflection of the current political and economic environment. Bane is the personification of a homicidal Occupy movement — a movement at odds with the one-percenters embodied by Mitt Romney.
Romney’s time at Bain Capital is the central issue of a series of attack ads leveled by the Obama Campaign and its allies. The ads are damaging Romney as much as Bane’s attacks impact Gotham City.
If the Romney campaign’s idea of how to get out of the box Romney is in, they’re even less ready for prime time than first thought. This is, well, amazing:
“There may have been a thought at the time that it could be part time, but it was not part time,” [Romney spokesman Ed] Gillespie said. “He took a leave of absence and in fact he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to 1999 as a result,” he added.
He ended up not going back at all? So I presume since he retroactively retired, he also paid back the salary he earned during that period. But apart from that, how does the Romney campaign explain the following claims made under oath by Romney and his lawyer testifying about his Massachusetts residence to qualify for the race for governor:
Romney testified that “there were a number of social trips and business trips that brought [him] back to Massachusetts, board meetings” while he was running the Olympics. He added that he remained on the boards of several companies, including the Lifelike Co., in which Bain Capital held a stake until 2001…
“He succeeded in that three-year period in restoring confidence in the Olympic Games, closing that disastrous deficit and staging one of the most successful Olympic Games ever to occur on US soil,” said Peter L. Ebb from Ropes & Gray, [his lawyer at the 2002 hearing].
“Now while all that was going on, very much in the public eye, what happened to his private and public ties to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? And the answer is they continued unabated just as they had.”
So either Ed Gillespie and Romney are lying now, or Romney and his lawyer were lying then. Which is it? They were and are obviously trying to have it every which way to suit whatever purpose at the moment. But legally, CEOs are responsible for their companies, whether they are managing them full time, part time or even retroactively retiring while managing them. Period. The buck stops with the CEO, just as much as it stops with a president. As a Bain partner at the time said today:
“Mitt’s names were on the documents as the chief executive and sole owner of the company,” Ed Conard, who served as a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007, said in an exclusive interviewwith Up w/ Chris Hayes. Asked again if Romney was chief executive officer of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, Conard said, “Legally, on documents, I suppose, yes.”
Despite Romney’s statements that he left in 1999, Conard’s new remarks suggest that, in fact, Romney’s continued ownership of the firm enabled him to negotiate a better exit deal. “We had to negotiate with Mitt because he was an owner of the firm,” Conard said.
Romney, in other words, doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
I think I’d rather deal with Bane than be Romney having to answer questions about Bain.
Material from The Daily Beast was used in this post.