It is becoming an old story now. An actual candidate for the presidency is refusing to release his income tax returns beyond the sketchy release he did for 2010. There are dozens of side issues here, open for discussion, all of which point to trouble for Mitt. There is the question of simple fairness. (Laughter on the right!) These are the same folks who hounded our President about a freaking birth certificate, for Pete's sake.
But, since fairness has never been part of the Republican DNA, let's move on. Romney is trying to build a campaign based on three things. He was a businessman; he was a governor, and he is a good Christian man. That is all he has, since he has the charisma of Charles Manson and the integrity of Richard Nixon.
Let's touch on these briefly. His church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. aka the Mormons. Beyond the fact that most of us would rather see an insurance salesman or even a Jehovah's Witness walking up to our door than two young boys in white shirts, carrying a Book of Mormon, it is a very strange church that most people do not understand, nor relate to. And yet, he gets some credit for being a "good" Mormon, and apparently very active in the church. Yet, he will not discuss that relationship. When asked about his membership and church activities, he becomes nervous and uncommunicative, claiming that this is not an area he wishes to discuss.
More weirdness below the break.
He was governor of Massachussets. When asked specific questions about his term of governor, he becomes nervous and uncommunicative and says this is not an area he wishes to dwell on.
His business experience is the one area he really does want to talk about...but only if he gets to set the boundaries. He does not want to talk about how many jobs Bain Capital was responsible for outsourcing. He does not want to clear up questions about just when he ceased to be the head of Bain Capital. He is very difficult to pin down when asked about the conflict between his assertions to the Massachussets elections officials and his sworn statements to the SEC. It is clear that these conflicting statements acnnot both be true, but when challenged he says, "Why hasn't Obama created more jobs?"
But the biggest problem with Mr. Romney (I won't call him Gov. Romney until he starts talking about that period of his life.) is that he will not show us the one thing that could clear up a lot of questions about his business ethics, his basic honesty, and his real experiences in the field he claims as his expertise. He refuses to release his tax returns for the years he worked at Bain Capital. This isn't just an inconvenience thing, like President Obama jumping through legal hoops to get Hawaii to release his long form Birth Certificate. No, this is a dig-in-your-heels, kicking and screaming refusal! There are stories about illegal bank accounts; stories about outsourced jobs; stories about all manner of nasty business practices, as well as stories of unpaid taxes. How can a candidate refute such things?
In Obama's case, he simply shut up most of the birthers by releasing his birth certificate. Most of us will just shut up if the tax returns are released and show that Candidate Romney is telling the truth to the American people. But the returns have not been released and there is no indication that they ever will be. Why? Why would a candidate, seriously wanting more than anything to be president, refuse to do the one thing that could move him over the biggest hurdle to that goal? One answer only... it wouldn't help! Releasing the returns would obviously not clear up anything, but would prove that something worse than we already believe is actually the case. That is the only possible reason for the refusal. But, what is the rest of the story? In what specific way would the further exposure harm or even destroy his candidacy? There are three viable theories out there, and several far-out ones. Let's look at the likely suspects:
The Hereafter Theory: In the Mormon Church, more than any other, the person's relationship to the Church is of paramount importance. And much of the energy of the Church is spent acquiring and using money. Has Romney been lying about how much support he gives the Church? If he has been donating a bare tithe (10%) but claims a 20-25% donation on his taxes, would the Church keep quiet about such a misrepresentation? Maybe they would want to cover it up, but remember that Huntsman and Reid are both Mormons and neither has any love for the Mittster. It would leak, and it would cost him needed votes in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Idaho, at least.
The Harry Reid Theory: It is important to remember that Harry Reid did not say Romney paid no taxes for ten years. Harry Reid said he was told that this was the case. Since proving a negative, we all know, is virtually impossible, Romney's camp has not been able to get past this embarrassment. All Reid has to do is continue what he is doing...repeating that this is what he was told and he can't personally vouch for it, but gee whillickers, it sure would be easy for Mr Romney to prove it wrong. But what if it isn't wrong? Ten years or more of no taxes paid, by a candidate who wants to make the tax rate lower for the rich? Millions of voters would walk away. Even if they don't walk to Obama, they will stay home or write in Ron Paul.
My personal favorite, The Lawrence O'Donnell Theory: Some years back the IRS realized they were losing millions of dollars to folks who maintained Swiss bank accounts and evaded taxes on the proceeds. This went on for years, until the US put pressure on Switzerland and was able to access the secret information. At that time, knowing they lacked the manpower to investigate and prosecute all these Americans who were committing Felony Tax Evasion, they offered amnesty. Anyone who would voluntarily step forward and pay the back taxes would not be prosecuted for their Felony. Is Mitt Romney one of those who took advantage of this amnesty? If so, he is a felon...not a convicted one, because that is what amnesty is, but a felon nonetheless, and again, it would result in the loss of many million votes.
As the carnival barker says "Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice", or maybe you like some other theory better. Whatever the truth is, it isn't good, if he thinks what he is doing now is better. What's your theory?