Without a doubt, the quote of the weekend was provided by Ed Gillespie, one of Mitt Romney’s top advisors, who tried to explain the candidate’s departure from Bain Capital by noting that he’d “retired retroactively.”
The mockery was immediate and intense on Twitter, even though Gillespie wasn’t technically breaking any new ground. “Retroactive” is actually the correct way to characterize Romney’s retirement from Bain, the result of a 2002 severance agreement that declared February 1999 to be the date of his departure.
Politically, though, Gillespie’s phraseology is problematic for two reasons. One is just the way it sounds – slippery and comically legalistic, sort of like Bill Clinton expounding on the meaning of the word “is,” or John Kerry explaining how he “actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” To the extent the line gets repeated in the days and weeks ahead, it could encourage casual voters who know little or nothing of the Bain story to assume that Romney is trying to cover his tracks for something embarrassing.
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