When you go back over the explanations the Romney campaign used to beat back Obama/Priorities USA attacks, you see them fumbling the 1999/2002 distinction like a retired NFL-er with busted knees. In late May, for example, Ed Gillespie (a Romney adviser and surrogate) gave Romney credit for all the jobs created by Bain over its entire history — not stopping in 1999, not even stopping in 2002. Every time Romney’s been hit over something that happened after February 1999, it claimed more definitively than it could prove that he had nothing to do with that stuff. This is a truly bizarre scandal. At base, we’re seeing a candidate get shamed because he took a (paid) leave of absence in order to successfully turn around the Olympics. But the way he described that decision in his 2006 book Turnaround made it clear — he kept up some Bain Capital ties. “When I talked to my partners at Bain Capital,” he wrote, “I opined that it wouldn’t make sense for me to come back to the company at the end of my tenture at SLOC as I had following my  campaign.” They disagreed and came to a different arrangement — not as much control as he’d retained in 1994, but not zero influence. If only the campaign had explained this clearly. The reason that Romney’s having trouble escaping this language trap is that it was built and baited by hasty “war room” responses.
Romney’s not being shamed for working on the Olympics; he’s being shamed because he doesn’t want to take responsibility for what the company did while he was still the sole stockholder and CEO.