Video: CNN Grills Obama Spokesman on Bain Attack Ad

Posted: May 16, 2012 9:23 AM

This Obama spokestool at least had the sense to stay relentlessly and unresponsively on message, unlike his colleague Stephanie Cutter, who was reduced to spinning so lamely yesterday that even MSNBC wasn't buying it.  Here's CNN's Ashleigh Banfield pressing Ben LaBolt for five solid minutes about the Obama campaign's dishonest ad attacking Romney over a failed steel mill:

A few additional thoughts and fact-checks:

(1) Sorry, Ben, but according to the Washington Post, Romney was already gone from Bain when this factory went bust -- he was off saving the Olympics.  Though Romney was technically still tied to the firm, a patchwork of evidence confirms that he was, in fact, a "passive, limited partner with no management capacity" after he departed in 1999:

We also learned that the creditors who sued some of Bain’s companies and executives over dividend payments around the time in question did not name Romney in their lawsuit. Plaintiffs generally try to list as many people as possible as defendants to encourage settlement, so it’s highly unlikely that Romney had any involvement with Bain’s businesses during this period. These facts essentially exonerate Romney from allegations that he was responsible for any outsourcing, bad deals and layoffs that occurred with Bain’s companies in the early 2000s.

Oh, but you already knew that, didn't you Ben?  Because the Post published that research several weeks ago, and awarded your campaign Three Pinnochios for your trouble.  Now you've gone and doubled down on the inaccurate characterization, earning you further scolding from the newspaper.

(2) The Obama campaign seems to have a very odd concept of exactly how Mitt Romney made off with these mysterious and ghastly things called "profits."  By their telling, here's how the process works (concept via South Park):

Step 1: Mitt and his fellow fat-cats invest in a good, honest business, run by hardworking middle class Americans.

Step 2: Mitt and his fellow fat-cats load the business up with debt for no reason, other than to maximize their eventual profits.  They cackle and rub their hands together as they prepare to screw over the employees.

Step 3: ???

Step 4: Mitt and his fellow fat-cats reap huge profits as the company fails, leaving shattered lives in their wake.

Economics 101!  Look, of course some of the investments didn't pan out, and jobs were lost.  But the companies that Romney targeted for investment were either promising start-ups in desperate need of capital, or struggling (but salvagable) businesses already in grave danger of going under.  The goal was to invest in businesses that demonstrated some capacity to thrive and deliver robust returns for Romney's investors.  This process creates both wealth -- at which Labolt pointedly sneers -- and jobs.  Bain Capital didn't become a powerhouse by raiding awful businesses and running them into the ground.  They built an excellent reputation by making sound investments.  Those investments didn't merely benefit Romney and his ring of corporate buddies; they helped the tens of thousands of people who were eventually employed by those businesses (Steel Dynamics, Staples, Sports Authority, Dominos, etc), as well as the countless additional workers whose pensions relied on Bain Capital investing their money wisely.  That's right: Bain investors included numerous endowments and pension funds, comprised of middle class workers.  The reason that Mitt Romney made his fortune is that he was damn good at making investment decisions. Investing other people's money is hard.  Just ask Barack Obama. Yet the overwhelming majority of Romney's investments worked out quite nicely, thus earning Bain its "superb" reputation, as described by former Obama advisor Steve Rattner.  Perhaps Mr. Labolt should phone up Rattner for an explanation of how this all works.  Ah, strike that, actually.  Labolt's a paid shill -- facts, context and nuance aren't his currency.  His only job is to do and say whatever it takes to re-elect his hapless boss, and smirkingly defend those methods, come hell or high water.

(3) Notice that Labolt goes out of his way to try to make a distinction between Mitt Romney's private equity dealings and the field as a whole.  He has no choice, really.  He has to attempt to explain why it's okay for his campaign to blast Romney's exceptional record (by industry standards) while Obama runs around vacuuming up cash from private equity donors, including folks from Bain.  Hey, it might be totally hacktastic, but it's sure as hell better than talking about this: