The Joys of Retroactivity

By Jeffrey Page

Ed Gillespie is one of those Republican “strategists” – the Democrats have them, too – who seem to materialize in presidential election years and who are interviewed by TV and print reporters so they can spin issues in favor of their candidates.

They’re also called upon to clean up the mess their candidates occasionally create. Such was Gillespie’s appearance recently in The Further Adventures of Mitt Romney and l’Affaire Bain.

At its core, the issue is this: Romney says he left Bain Capital early in 1999, but government documents filed by Bain in 2002 have him listed as president, CEO, and chairman. How could this be?

Actually, Gillespie said with a straight face, Romney retired “retroactively” from Bain. Neat trick, and you’re left wondering how someone could utter those words without snickering. Gillespie is good; he doesn’t snicker when he says things like that. But you could not be blamed if your first thought after hearing Gillespie’s line is of the famous politician who, when asked a certain question before the grand jury, said: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Would that I could do things retroactively. I could enter high school retroactively and pay attention in class retroactively, read my assignments retroactively, make a decent average for myself retroactively and head off to Princeton retroactively. It, uh, didn’t happen that way.

Retroactively I could be a kinder person. But I and 300 million Americans understand this. Mitt Romney does not.

Here are some people who would benefit from retroactivity:

–The governor of Maine, Paul LePage, could go back several weeks and choose not to compare the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo. (This is the same Governor LePage – no relation – who once described the NAACP as a “special interest group” that could “kiss [his] butt” if it objected to his refusal to attend the organization’s state convention.)

“Do you have a sense of what the Gestapo did during World War II?” a reporter from Politico asked LePage.

“Yeah, they killed a lot of people.”

“And the IRS is headed in that direction?”

“Yeah,” LePage said.

“Are you serious?”

“I’m very serious,” LePage said. Later he said, “I’m saying the federal government is taking away the freedom of Americans to make choices.”

Later the governor issued one of those completely meaningless conditional apologies. You know what I mean. “I apologize to Jewish Americans if they feel offended,” LePage said.

“If” they feel offended. For LePage, it’s an unanswered question.

LePage should have met my Uncle Harry, who spent several years in a Nazi forced labor camp in the Pyrenees. With Harry, there was no “if.”

–Nan Hayworth could retroactively rethink her idiotic postcard on which she thanks me for having participated in her telephone town hall. The fact is I wasn’t there.

She could take a minute to understand the silliness of her salutation – “Dear Neighbor” – since we are not neighbors. Not only do we live in separate towns, but in separate counties that are divided by the Hudson.

Note to Mitt: You can’t retroactively retire just as you can’t retroactively kill your Massachusetts health care system on which the Obama plan is based. You supported it as governor. Do you think anyone is going to buy the line that you retroactively think it’s a bad plan?

Or will people recognize your retroactive this-and-that for what it is: Another example of your saying anything – anything – to get elected.

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3 Responses to “The Joys of Retroactivity”

  1. LeeAgain Says:

    Maybe Mitt could retroactively not strap his dog (in kennel) to the top of his car and drive to Canada. Or maybe if he drove backward….?

  2. Randy Hurst Says:

    Maybe Romney could also “retroactively” alter his personality from being a spoiled rich kid bully who gangs up on defenseless people, lies and disingenuously attacks others to get his way into something more akin to an “authentic” human being. Don’t think so, though.

  3. Jean Webster Says:

    Okay, Jeff. You aced me on the Le Page “if I offended anyone” piece.
    Good story. I guess we should feel grateful to all these people who keep reporters and bloggers in business. What would we be without them? Poets and comedy writers?
    Cheers from Maine,

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