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June 01, 2012

Bill Clinton: Stop Attacking Romney's "Sterling Business Career." As a Matter of Fact, Stop Attacking His Governorship, Too.
Steny Hoyer Attempts Walking It Back

...and lay out your actual plans for a second term, apart from the Big Do-Over on Health Care.

Drew covered this this morning. Clinton vigorously defended Romney's business reputation:

So I donít think that we ought to get in the position where we say this is bad work, this is good work. I think, however, the real issue ought to be what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president? What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other, thatís the most relevant thing. Thereís no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office, and you know, basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.

Sterling business career? Good Lord, that is going quite a bit further than honesty dictates. That's almost being vindictively honest, against Obama's interests.

And since then, via Andy aka @TheH2, Steny Hoyer -- the Number Two Democrat in the House -- has tried to walk-back Clinton's remark.

Let me explain. I think Hoyer's statement is being misinterpreted on the right, and his intent misinterpreted.

Hoyer claims he agrees with Clinton -- then changes what Clinton said, in order to claim that while private equity as an industry shouldn't be criticized, "bad practices" -- such as Obama is claiming of Bain -- should be.

See, here's what Hoyer said:

I think President Clinton is correct. Private equity is a very important aspect of growing our economy. Obviously there's good practices in private equity; there are bad practices. You criticize bad practices but not the whole enterprise itself.

But that is most emphatically not what Clinton said. Clinton said that Romney's career at Bain was "sterling." He did not just say that private equity, in general, is an important industry.

Clinton specifically called out Romney's specific career as "sterling."

They did this with Cory Booker too -- they are fighting to walk-back these statements into something that permits President F**kup to continue claiming that Bain is a Vampire Capitalist outfit.

"Sterling" has a meaning. Hoyer ought to look it up. Via m-w.com:

conforming to the highest standard

[examples of usage]: sterling character, a sterling record of achievement

And sterling now has that metaphorical meaning because "sterling" in coin production meant "a very high proportion of precious silver to filler metal" -- "sterling" was a standard of purity and value, 925 parts silver to only 75 parts copper (92.5% of the good stuff to 7.5% filler).

Sovereigns typically debased their coinage with much lower percentages of silver (or gold, or whatever the valuable metal was). Sterling thus came to mean "of the highest standard."

So no, Steny, Clinton did not merely say that some people in private equity are doing good things, but that the "bad practices" at Bain should be criticized.

Double Post Explanation: Originally I was just going to put up Steny Hoyer's remarks, "agreeing" with Clinton.

But as I listened to the quote and read it, I realized he wasn't agreeing at all. He was walking it back -- or trying to. You can't really walk back a comment someone else made.

So, I figured I would just start over, and then get to Steny's walk-back.

He called Romney's career there "of the highest standard of excellence" -- 92.5% pure.

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