The Buzz

The Post Tarnishes Romney's Gold

The Washington Post’s Amy Shipley has produced perhaps the silliest piece of journalism to come out of the current GOP presidential campaign. The headline: "Romney's Winter Games rescue role is questioned." The deck: "Future candidate widely credited for '02 success—too much, some say."

The article quotes a number of Romney detractors as saying he didn't do anything that wouldn’t have been done anyway. Some said that Romney—horrors!—had political ambitions at the time. One critic complains that Romney has accepted credit for turning around an Olympics program that was wracked by scandal and deeply in deficit financing.

The facts, as gleaned from the article, are as follows: The program was hit with a devastating bribery scandal involving huge sums of money. There was an operating deficit approaching $400 million. It was a public relations disaster, and momentum lagged as the scheduled event approached. Romney was recruited to clean up the ethical and legal troubles, ramp up fund-raising, and bring about operational discipline and effectiveness. He accomplished that, and it was the most financially successful Games up to that time. They generated $100 million in profit and raised more sponsor dollars than any other Olympics ever. And yes, Romney then sought to parlay his success into a political career.

What more needs to be said? He clearly was successful and deserves credit. The main thrust of Shipley's piece seems to be that others could have been equally successful. So what? Had they been, they would have had the deserved spotlight. Shipley also suggests stakes were so high that nobody would have been allowed to fail in the role. This is ridiculous. The committee that presumably would have ensured success presided over the scandal and the deficit financing. High-stakes ventures fail all the time.

This piece holds up not a single Romney action during his Olympics tenure for criticism—no lapse in judgment, operational blunder, disastrous personnel decisions or dysfunctional culture. The only criticisms are vague complaints from people who clearly don't like Romney and don't like seeing him credited for his Olympics success.

Somehow Post editors placed this thin gruel on page one. They should have sent Ms. Shipley back to her desk with instructions to deliver the goods or move on to another story. This thing is a howler.