There is a meme developing among Romney supporters in the comments that my focus lately on the dangers Bain presents in a general election is a visceral reaction to Romney’s SuperPAC going negative on Newt in Iowa in December 2011.
Actually, I have been sounding the warning on Romney’s electability and the Bain problem since before the Newt surge, on November 16, 2011:
Romney’s electability versus Obama simply is overstated. As leading Republican candidate after Republican candidate has been put through the media grinder, Romney has not. The mainstream media has been noticeably not going after Romney, saving the proctological examination of his business dealings at Bain for the general election grinder. (This Chicago Sun-Times article is a rare media attack on Romney and a taste of things to come.)
We are in the absurd position that the one candidate who most needs testing because he is the most likely nominee is the one candidate the media ignores as it devours his opponents. Buyer beware, we are being fed a false narrative of Romney electability.
And again on November 17:
Yet none of this Bain history has been examined so far in the primaries. The media has taken to digging up rocks to find dirt on Rick Perry, shaking complainers out of the trees against Herman Cain, and trying to sully Newt with innuendos about his consulting business, but Romney remains unexamined.
It’s not that the media hasn’t done it’s job; it’s doing its job of electing Obama quite well by holding its fire on Romney until it is too late for Republicans. Major Republican and conservative journals that support Romney are equally complicit, as it is in their candidate’s interest to portray everyone but Romney as unelectable.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the other Republican candidates have the resources to do it, but you can bet the Obama campaign does and has.
To nominate Mitt Romney without a thorough vetting in the primaries will result in a general election disaster.
Not long after that, Newt surged, and just a couple of weeks after that the Romney campaign, its supporters, and almost the entire establishment conservative punditry drove a dump truck up to the edge of the roof and dumped a ton of negative bricks on Newt’s head to block his path to the nomination.
I was right in November about the dangers Bain posed to Romney’s electability, and nothing has changed my view.
To the contrary, the secrecy which has accompanied Romney’s campaign on the Bain issue and tax returns has made me even more worried that there are Bain land mines set to explode, we just don’t know where or when.
Some of the rhetoric by Newt and Perry has been unfocused and overly broad, but the core issue of Romney’s business experience being subject to legitimate scrutiny and criticism is correct.
Unfortunately, the collective circling of the wagons around Romney through equating criticism of Bain with criticism of capitalism and free markets has done more damage to the Republican Party than anything AxelPlouffe could have concocted in their mad media lab.
If you have noticed, I have never attacked Romney in the highly personal and demeaning manner that Newt has been attacked. I have not attacked his character or his intentions. But I have been insistent that we not ignore the elephant in the room.
That elephant is Bain. And it is not going to go away even if we close our eyes.