So now they are weeping. Mitt Romney and his wife are now crying to reporters about having to answer questions about their finances. In a nation where the President has had to endure years of slime and slander over a birth certificate validated years before he took office, the Romney’s don’t like questions about their taxes. In a nation where all of the President’s appointees were scrutinized more carefully than any in history, and where a handful were rejected on the basis of irregularities in their tax histories, the Romney’s don’t like questions about their taxes.
Conservatives turned the political discussion in 2009 from where it should have been; jobs, jobs, jobs; to where they wanted it; deficit, deficit, deficit. The principal weapon used by conservatives to separate the working class from their own political interests was and remains the idea of the “freeloader”. The economy, they say, wasn’t sunk by 6 years of historical bad (and universally conservative) governance, it was sunk by freeloaders. Apparently, 7 million workers didn’t lose their jobs between 2007 and 2009, they gave them up to go on welfare. But if you are paying less than 15% in income taxes, job or not, aren’t you one of those freeloaders?
In this environment, an environment where families and friends argue over who is suckling with more vigor at the public teat, the Romney’s think their tax history is no big deal. Romney’s opponents in the GOP primary thought it important, and Republican primary voters agreed, dealing him setbacks on the strength of that fact alone. But the general public, the Romney’s seem to think, are not good enough to see their returns. In the parlance of national security, Mitt’s finances are on a “need to know basis”…an idea that apparently extends to the Romney/Ryan budget. Trust us, they say, it will work out fine.
What is more interesting in this melodrama, is what no one in the media (or the Obama Campaign) seems to have caught. Republicans like Romney complain that the economy can’t recover because taxes are too high on the “job producers”; and according to Mitt, he is definitely a job producer. But in the single year for which Mitt released his tax return, his effective rate was less than half the top marginal tax rate, and roughly the same as a working class family maxing out their available deductions. Given that information, either Mitt is blowing smoke about the need to lower taxes, or he needs to write a book telling all and sundry how to pay like a Romney.
Instead, Mitt and his wife cry. “If we release more returns, it will just give Democrats more ammunition.” said Mrs. Romney. When she says this, she is implicitly announcing that there is indeed fire behind that smoke, for what ammunition would exist in an honest set of returns? At a minimum, if all of the returns were prepared honestly (and I presume they were), they will show that this ridiculous drive to lower taxes further on the “job-producers” is a self-aggrandizing sham. But beyond the political issues of taxes and tax returns, there is a greater danger for Team Romney…the weakness and lack of resolve demonstrated by their response.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have seemingly decided that their best move is to claim “abuse”. The wicked “mainstream media” is picking on them, and trying to start a class war against the noble, job-producing, wealthy. This will simply not do, nor will going on television and complaining about “personal attacks” by President Obama. Our current president has been subjected to the disgusting, most persistent, and most blatantly baseless series of attacks in modern political history; and he has accepted them gracefully and (mostly) without complaint.
President Obama is a tough man, and Mitt Romney is a weakling. That appears to be the reality, and it is only confirmed by the Romney’s hand-wringing in the press. Americans don’t like weaklings, and have no tolerance for politicians that whine about fairness when challenged to a fight. That these statements are the truth is borne out by Republican voter’s reticence regarding Mitt. Rank and file conservatives, and those Reagan Democrats that still remain, are only willing to support Romney under protest…they don’t trust him to fight for their beliefs.
Reagan Democrats came about because white working class voters felt like the Democrats of the day lacked backbone. Mitt Romney, with his wholesale changes of mind on policy, his waffling on budget priorities, and his sketchy reticence on his own financial history, appears to be channeling his inner 80’s Democrat. Romney is trying to play the tough guy, but he is up against a man Americans know will pull the proverbial trigger.
The Rational Middle is listening…