One day after Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s fact-challenged photo-op and media circus at the defunct Solyndra solar plant, the cold light of day fell on Mitt’s words and actions. Konarka Technologies of Lowell, Mass. announced its intentions to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, close its doors and lay off its 85 person workforce. Konarka was the recipient of $1.5 million in taxpayer subsidies under Mitt Romney’s governorship, as well as $20 million in government research grants in the years it was operational.
Ordinarily (read: in a non-election year), this would be nothing more than a sad news story, too typical in a sluggish economy. But because Romney has made such a point of his business acumen, and because he spent the previous day showboating in front of the boarded-up Solyndra plant feasting on the red meat conservatives have made of its failure; it’s fair to take him to task. In the words of Dem state Sen. Marc Pacheco:
If Romney gets a little bit of heat because he participated in some of these policies at a point in time, it’s all fair in the world of politics. He’s criticizing on one hand, he’s got to take criticism on the other.
And criticize Romney did. With the lights on and the cameras rolling, Mitt rolled up his sleeve and started selling the snake oil. He used terms like “crony capitalism,” he made unfounded claims that the Obama administration had,”steered money to friends and family — to campaign contributors,” quoting testimony from Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman, on a wholly unrelated matter. In fact no such accusations have been levied. The entire event was an exercise in wish-fulfillment that fits the Republican narrative on Obama first and foremost, and the truth not-at-all.
A couple of inconvenient truths (and aren’t they all inconvenient really, conservatives?) that Romney failed to mention is that the financing for the Solyndra loans were begun in earnest during the Bush Administration. That’s right, every derisive word and sneering joke about incompetence that conservatives have fallen over one another to make over this issue, has landed squarely back in their laps. Again.
Another overlooked aspect of the whole issue, is that this was known to be a risk from the day the government began to consider it. The investment wasn’t particularly unusual; the government spends billions every year on research and development. Such is almost always the case with cutting-edge technology.
But when you have nothing real to offer, and a sketchy investment history of your own, sometimes bluster and wild accusation have to take the place of substantive political discourse. Speaking of which:
Hey, Mitt why was this press conference so shrouded in secrecy; why wouldn’t you let the press know where you were taking them until the last minute? According to an adviser:
We knew, if word got out, that Solyndra would do everything in their power, and the Obama administration would do everything in their power, to stop us from having this news conference.
Really? Because it looks more like you just did them a big favor. Again.