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July 14, 2012


In this matter, it's not the press's responsibility to dig deeper (although they can & should). There's an ethically imperative for Romney himself to come clean on his tax returns and time at Bain circa 1999-2002.

I think if he was CEO, he was responsible. Whether he actually made the decisions or not, he was the guy the buck stopped with.

This is really bad form. If you're going to criticize people for not understanding your pristinely subtle argument, link to them so your readers can evaluate the fairness of your haughty dismissals.

Personally, I think you're insisting on a distinction without any difference.


The implications of the Obama ads are misleading. The distinction between being legally in charge and actively shipping jobs overseas may not matter to you or others with similar views but that's not the question I'm addressing.

As far as who I'm addressing, it's not clear who I should point to because it's virtually everyone! Would almost seem unfair. I've seen almost no examples of commentary that acknowledges both of these points carefully - usually just one or the other.

You are trying to practice nuance with the public at large. Good luck with that. :(

Your argument assumes that the Obama campaigns makes a distinction between a) owning a company (Bain) that controls companies that outsource and b) personally making the decision that those companies will outsource. Do you have evidence for that assumption? Have you done the investigation required to support your assumption?

I also wonder if the distinction is one that you can sustain in all areas, e.g., The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), was signed by Obama, but was the outcome of extended Congressional politics. Is it fair to let it be called ObamaCare and hold Obama responsible for all and every (possible) failing of that Act? On this point, I admit that I have not investigated your writings on this issue.

If oodkes of US jobs had been created during Romney's unleadership period of Bain during 1999-2003, we'd be hearing him take credit for them although not morally responsible of course. CEOs take credit for success and claim to be unaware during failures (Murdoch, Enron, etc). Masters of the Universe indeed!

Mr. Nyhan, you have a long list of impressive academic credentials, leading one to conclude that you are a bright man.

Might I suggest that in your commentary, you seem to have utterly forget the following:

Mitt Romney FOUNDED Bain Capital, built it for 20 years, hired most if not all of the Senior Partners, and then remained CEO (by his own signature) from 1999 on.

One does not need even 1% of your education to know that if decisions were being made at Bain from 1999 on that Governor Romney disapproved of, those decisions would have been halted.

Seriously, for a smart guy, your "throw-out-my-back" attempt at being even-handed sounded incredibly dumb.

I have to totally agree with Jacques, you're view of things seems incredibly naive...you really are offering a "if the glove doesn't fit..." defense here. In any event, can you answer any of these 35 questions?


In particular, what is it Romney did for the $100,000++ a year he took in salary from Bain 1999-2002

It is incredibly naive, not to mention legally and logically unsound, to believe that Romney is not responsible for the decisions made by Bain between 1999 and 2002.

Romney was not only CEO but was also chairman of the board of directors. The power within a corporation is generally held at the top (i.e. the board) and then delegated to a CEO, who, in turn, delegats authority to other officers and directors. Many CEOs aren't involved in the day to day decision making in a corporation. They may sign off on it, but they delegate decision making authority and operational control because they can't do everything.

By virtue of the delegation of authority, however, the CEO and board is still responsible for the decisions. To maintain that a CEO or board of directors cannot be held responsible for decisions made by those to whom they delegated power because the CEO or board wasn't "actively" involved flies in the face of basic tenants of corporate governance.

In addition, a delegation of authority isn't a complete transfer of power. Rather, the delegator entrusts a delegatee with authority, and the delegator is tasked with overseeing and managing the delegatee. This is even more important where the delegator has a fiduciary duty, as one CANNOT delegate away a fiduciary duty.

We know that Romney was active in the operations of Bain before the Olympics. We also know that in 1999, Romney hedged his bets and maintained his role at Bain by taking a partial leave of absence, delegating his operational control to a management committee. During this time, Romney was CEO and chairman of the board. He is not only morally responsible, he is also legally responsible for the decisions made by his management committee. Furthermore, even if Romney exercised no oversight over the management committee, his failure to correct the actions of the management committee is an approval of their actions.

I would argue, and I believe the evidence and law supports, that Romney "made" or "approved of" whatever decisions Bain made during 1999-2002 even without any involvement in day to day operations.

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