A weak conversational detour

Updated
 
A weak conversational detour
A weak conversational detour

About a month ago, the Romney campaign believed it could weaken President Obama by attacking a federal loan guarantee program that enjoyed bipartisan support. The idea was pretty straightforward: the administration helped invest in a series of American companies, some of those investments didn’t work out, ergo scandal. Or something.

The offensive fizzled out, but apparently Team Romney is going to give it another shot, hoping to get people to stop talking about the controversy surrounding Bain Capital.

In a coordinated offensive starting Monday, the Romney team and its allies will say that the president has been a “typical politician” and has demonstrated “systematic favoritism” toward top campaign fundraisers by lavishing them with federal appointments and their companies with taxpayer money and special government deals, according to campaign officials. […]

Romney’s new offensive Monday will focus on some companies that have long been the subject of public debate – such as green energy firm Solyndra and electric-car maker Fisker Automotive – but will introduce research about other companies whose connections to the administration have not been under as bright a spotlight.

Even if we put aside the lazy hey-look-at-the-shiny-object distraction strategy being used here, there are some fairly significant flaws to this. The first, obviously, is that there’s no evidence whatsoever of the Obama administration playing political favorites, directing public funds to donors. Allegations of corruption are supposed to be substantiated with some kind of proof, but Romney doesn’t have any.

The second problem is how easy it is to turn the criticisms around on the Republican candidate. During Romney’s one term as governor of Massachusetts, he not only had extremely similar loan guarantees that failed to work out, he also directed subsidies to businesses run by campaign donors.

But perhaps the most striking angle to this is the one the Romney campaign didn’t see coming: the accusations against Obama are made possible by Obama’s willingness to disclose his campaign bundlers. Romney, however, apparently keeps his list of bundlers with his hidden tax returns – they’re both kept secret from voters.

How Team Romney was caught flat-footed by this amazes me.

An NBC reporter followed up with the obvious question: How should Americans judge the Romney administration on the same count if he takes over? Unlike Obama, Romney does not release a public list of his biggest fundraisers, or “bundlers,” as they are commonly known, meaning it’s difficult to tell just who the administration would owe a favor to in the first place.

Gillespie offered only that Romney’s individual contributors – who are capped by a max donation limit, making bundlers who can package hundreds of donations from wealthy supporters so valuable – are legally required to be made available.

Will Romney follow the lead set by Obama, McCain, and Bush, releasing the names of bunlders? So far, Team Romney refuses – they want to use Obama’s list against him, but they don’t want to make a similar list available to anyone.

That way, if a Romney administration uses public funds to reward donors’ companies, no one can complain because no one will know.

Solyndra and Mitt Romney

A weak conversational detour

Updated