Legal scholar, Jeffrey Toobin has looked into retroactive retirement and finds Romney has done it before -- patterning his behaviors, possibly, on figures in the entertainment industry.
The concept of "retroactive retirement" is well-established. Ben Affleck retroactively retired from the cast of Gigli, thus restoring his bankability as a movie star. As the journalist Matt Yglesias recalled, Michael Jordan retroactively retired from his two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards, and thereby preserved his basketball legacy. The director Julie Taymor retroactively retired as director of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, when it was an infamous Broadway flop; she then retroactively unretired when the show became a hit. (The matter is now in litigation.)
The criticism of Romney is especially unjust because, after all, he has retroactively retired from other jobs besides the one he held at Bain Capital--Governor of Massachusetts, for instance. During his term in office, Romney sponsored a health care law with an individual mandate. As Romney said, when he signed the law, on April 13, 2006, "Today, Massachusetts is leading the way with health insurance for everyone." Later, when he began running for the Republican nomination for President, he retroactively retired from that position and said, "what works in one state may not be the answer for another." Romney thus has a record of consistency in his commitment to retroactive retirement. (Ryan Lizza has written about his mastery of the technique.) ...Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker