We've all had a lot of fun with Mitt Romney and the shambles he's made of his travels abroad in just the first day. A whole lot of fun.
By the time the former Massachusetts Governor gets back to the good ole' U.S. of A., his London Fog of a trip may seem like an actual vacation. The issue of his tax returns is not going away.
The Manchester Union Leader, one of the most important conservative newspapers in the country, blasted Romney yesterday, calling on him to release tax returns for a number of years going back (it doesn't ask for a specific number).
It is very clear, from the current debate over revealing more of his tax documents, that Romney knows the steps he has taken to minimize his tax bite, while legal, will subject him to still more fire from President Obama and his supporters. That is a given. No doubt, Romney is right. In fact, his wife, Ann, made that very clear when asked why he would not reveal additional years: “Because there are so many things that will be open again for more attack … and that’s really just the answer.”Yes, the Union Leader is no friend of Mitt Romney, having endorsed Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Republican primary. The Union Leader's publisher even said that one reason he thought Gingrich could perform better in the general election than Romney was because the latter "represents the 1%."
Well, yes — and no. Maintaining the secrecy creates the impression, justly or not, that there is something there to hide. No escaping that reality. The impression is there. And it will cost Romney votes he cannot afford to lose. Those voters might not cast their ballots for Obama, but not voting can be just as damaging. And yes, for using the tax dodges and loopholes legally available to him, he might lose votes as well.
But there is no place for secrecy or, indeed, privacy in a Presidential campaign. If you want the job, you have to subject yourself to the scrutiny.
You have to be prepared to stand and explain, indeed, justify, your actions. If they are legal, then so be it.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this entire controversy is the one NOT being discussed much: How did Romney get himself into this position in the first place? He has been running for office for a long time. His presidential aspirations predate the tax returns in question.
What could he possibly have been thinking when he failed to ensure that everything contained in those documents was above reproach? Or was he simply not thinking at all? Surely he could not have arrogantly believed that he could withstand any storm that developed by bluffing his way through it? If so, it hasn’t worked.
If Romney intends to win, he is going to have to make the tax forms public. This storm won’t go away.
Nevertheless, the Union Leader certainly wants Mitt Romney to defeat Barack Obama. This call represents further evidence that conservatives are going to keep pushing Romney to follow the example of his father, George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President in 1968.
The Union Leader asks the key questions that underlie the tax return matter:
What could he possibly have been thinking when he failed to ensure that everything contained in those documents was above reproach? Or was he simply not thinking at all?Those are excellent questions. Mitt Romney clearly does not want to answer them.