"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Hidden Man”: Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns Don’t Look Like “You People’s” Tax Returns

John McCain’s former top presidential campaign strategist said Sunday that Mitt Romney’s tax returns had nothing to do with the campaign’s pick of Sarah Palin as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2008.

“Mitt Romney went through this process and what I can tell you is that he’s a person of decency with the highest ethical character and background,” Steve Schmidt said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There was nothing that was disqualifying. That pick in 2008 was not about any deficiency with Mitt Romney. It was a political decision that we made in a very bad political circumstance.”

Schmidt, who said he did not personally view Romney’s tax returns, said Romney is an “extremely wealthy man” and his tax returns “do not look anything like the average American.”

As a chorus of voices have called on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to release more of his tax returns, Romney has held firm. He told National Review in an interview that the Obama campaign’s hammering him on his taxes to distract voters from the tepid economic recovery and the president’s failure to put more Americans back to work.

However, New York Times columnist David Brooks told NBC’s David Gregory that Romney is a “hidden man” and that releasing his taxes won’t help that perception.

“I don’t care about the issue. Can you think about a president who was qualified or disqualified about taxes? What’s relevant is who the guy is,” Brooks said. “His family had gone across the west, poverty, building an empire, poverty, building an empire. He can’t talk about it because it involves Mormonism. He is a decent guy but he is not willing to talk about it. He’s a hidden man, so one of the turning points in this campaign is when he comes out and if he can come out. and I don’t know why they’re waiting so long.”

Democratic presidential strategist Bob Shrum agreed, saying Romney’s failure to release his tax returns makes him a “punching bag.”

“It does make him a hidden figure and a punching bag,” Shrum said. “…I tell you on this tax issue, Steve [Schmidt] and I have both been there. You sit down with the candidate and you say, ‘Look, we should release these tax returns.’ And either Romney or people in his campaign who have seen it said we’ll take worse damage if we release these returns than if we hold on to them. So I think he’s going to live with this issue all the way through.”


By: Juana Summers, Politico, July 22, 2012

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We The People vs You People”: Why Mitt Romney Won’t Release His Tax Returns

What’s Mitt Romney hiding, exactly? Why won’t he release his long-form birth certificate college transcripts tax returns? Well, his tax returns are probably just the words “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS PEASANT WORK I’M QUITE RICH YOU SEE” scrawled in a Montblanc on an otherwise blank 1040EZ, but we’ll likely never know: He refuses to release any returns from prior to 2010 (he claims he’ll get around to showing us his 2011 return), which is all sort of weird because the guy has been planning on running for president for a while, and one thing presidential candidates do is release a whole bunch of tax returns, a practice pioneered by this guy named George Romney, the kindly puppeteer/scientist who crafted/programmed young Willard.

Ann Romney, whose horse is competing in the Olympics, went on the TV to patiently explain that, no, the Romneys would not be sharing any more information on their finances. This is an actual thing she said, on ABC: ““We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.”

Whoa, there, Ann. When you’re being painted as a living embodiment of out-of-touch plutocratic wealth, maybe avoid the construction “you people.” Even if you just mean it to refer to “the press,” which it seems like you probably did.

People have some theories about what is so bad in Romney’s tax returns. Some people think he might not have paid any taxes at all one year, which Romney’s campaign denies. (But how do we know?) Matt Yglesias, who points out that the guy already ran for president once so you’d think he’d have cleaned his tax situation up a bit, says maybe there’s something in the very recent past that Mitt doesn’t want exposed (like his disclosing his secret Swiss bank account to the IRS to avoid criminal prosecution in 2009?).

There are a bunch of other reasons, too, and all of them can be summarized as “he won’t release them because they will confirm what we already basically know about Romney’s wealth and business practices.”

But Ben Domenech and Erick Erickson have a different idea of exactly what Romney’s hiding. A brilliant, counterintuitive idea. This is for real their actual theory:

Ben Domenech has been doing some pretty solid reporting in The Transom (you’ve subscribed, haven’t you?) about what might be in Mitt Romney’s taxes. He offers this morning the best and most informed theory.

Why most informed? Well, he talked to people who were familiar with the veep vetting process for McCain in 2008.

Here’s what he reports:

So what about the years before 2009? We know he turned over more than two decades of returns to the McCain campaign during the veepstakes vetting process. What was in them? “Mitt’s taxes were complex, but clean. He overpaid his taxes…”

That’s so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Mitt Romney doesn’t want anyone to know that he… overpaid his taxes. The guy whose effective rate was 14 percent in 2010, the one return he released to the public, definitely paid way more than that in his secret, hidden, earlier returns. He is embarrassed, I guess. He doesn’t want his rich financier friends to laugh at him.

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 19, 2012

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fundamental Dishonesty”: When Do Reporters Start Calling Mitt Romney A Liar?

Two days ago, Barack Obama went before AIPAC (which is commonly known as “the Israel Lobby” but would be better understood as the Likud lobby, since it advocates not Israel’s interests per se but the perspective of the right wing of Israeli politics, but that’s a topic for another day), and said, among other things, the following:

“I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency. Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

This didn’t surprise anyone, because it’s the same thing Obama has been saying for a while, in scripted and unscripted remarks alike, in both speeches and interviews. Yet later that day, Mitt Romney went out and said the following:

“This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. He’s also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it’s unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

So here’s my question: Just what will it take for reporters to start writing about the question of whether Mitt Romney is, deep within his heart, a liar?

Because he does this kind of thing frequently, very frequently. Sometimes the lies he tells are about himself (often when he’s trying to explain away things he has said or done in the past if today they displease his party’s base, as he’s now doing with his prior support for an individual mandate for health insurance), but most often it’s Barack Obama he lies about. And I use the word “lie” very purposefully. There are lots of things Romney says about Obama that are distortions, just plain ridiculous, or unfalsifiable but obviously false, as when he often climbs into Obama’s head to tell you what Obama really desires, like turning America into a militarily weak, economically crippled shadow of Europe (not the actual Europe, but Europe as conservatives imagine it to be, which is something like Poland circa 1978). But there are other occasions, like this one, where Romney simply lies, plainly and obviously. In this case, there are only two possibilities for Romney’s statement: Either he knew what Obama has said on this topic and decided he’d just lie about it, or he didn’t know what Obama has said, but decided he’d just make up something about what Obama said regardless of whether it was true. In either case, he was lying.

The “Who is he, really?” question is one that consumes campaign coverage, but in Romney’s case the question has been about phoniness, not dishonesty, and the two are very different things. What that means is that when Romney makes a statement like this one, reporters don’t run to their laptops to write stories that begin, “Raising new questions about his candor, today Mitt Romney falsely accused President Obama…” The result is that he gets a pass: there’s no punishment for lying, because reporters hear the lie and decide that there are other, more important things to write about.

To get a sense of what it’s like when reporters are on the lookout for lies, remember what Al Gore went through in 2000. To take just one story, when Gore jokingly told a union audience that as a baby his parents would rock him to sleep to the strains of “Look for the Union Label,” everyone in attendance laughed, but reporters shouted “To the Internet!” and discovered that the song wasn’t written until Gore was an adult. They then wrote entire stories about the remark, with those “Raising new questions…” ledes, barely entertaining the possibility that Gore was joking. Why not? Because it was Al Gore, and they all knew he was a liar, so obviously if he said something that wasn’t literally true it could only have been an intentional falsehood.

That is not yet the presumption when it comes to Mitt Romney. There’s another factor at play as well, which is that reporters, for reasons I’ve never completely understood, consider it a greater sin to lie about yourself, particularly about your personal life, than to lie about your opponent or about policy (I wrote about the different kinds of lies and how the press treats them differently here). Because Romney is lying about his opponent and about a policy matter, reporters just aren’t as interested. But at some point, these things begin to pile up, and they really ought to start asking whether this dishonesty is something fundamental in Romney’s character that might be worth exploring.


By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, March 6, 2012

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: