Earlier today, I posted that Governor Romney’s decision to withhold additional tax returns (and make a huge spectacle about it) was a bad political decision. There’s a burgeoning debate about whether my assertions are correct – always valid – and I thought I’d expand on my thinking a bit here.
The most powerful evidence that Romney’s resistance will come back to haunt him might lie in President Obama’s experience with the ‘birther’ movement. You can’t draw many connections between the idiotic, nonsensical debate over Obama’s long-form birth certificate and the current issues with Governor Romney’s tax returns, but I see one: stubbornness. Both Obama and Romney seem to share a certain principled obstinacy; I think Obama’s was more justified, but I also think it blinded him to political reality in the same way it has Romney. As Obama eventually learned, good things don’t always come to politicians who wait. Romney will almost certainly release more tax returns (see here for the most compelling evidence), and when he does, the time he spent standing his ground will make the contents of those returns a much bigger story.
Oddly enough, James Bond might offer the best political advice on this (all imagery aside).
The Times makes a great point in a short piece on Mitt Romney’s continued refusal to release additional tax return: the former Massachusetts governor is displaying an unusual level of stubbornness in repeatedly refusing to release additional tax returns. He also can’t seem to find a solid argument for his position, especially with the cloud of uncertainty about the exact date of his retirement from Bain looming overhead. Regardless of context, Romney’s latest contention – that releasing more returns might leave his tax records open to distortion – is completely without merit. It’s not only bad politics (it makes him look, in Boston parlance, wicked shady), but it also denies Americans one of their fundamental rights as voters: to receive complete information, as fraught with complexity and contradiction as it may be, and evaluate it for themselves. Romney spends a lot of time painting President Obama as an out of touch elitist, but the former governor’s unwillingness to let voters consider the merits of various arguments about the meaning and relevance of his tax records speaks volumes about his respect for the nation’s electorate.
Update: A slight expansion of my thinking on the optics of Obama’s decision is here.