Don’t release your tax records, Mitt
posted at 8:56 am on July 16, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
Count me among those frustrated by the anti-Romney Bain attacks, now in their umpteenth day dominating the political news cycle. Every day that Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has to spend talking about precisely when he left Bain Capital or why he won’t release a gajillion years of tax records is a day lost from making the case for why President Obama has failed this country and needs to be replaced. Romney should be talking about how he’ll do a better job in the Oval Office than its current feckless occupant.
At Obama headquarters, they are surely clinking champagne glasses watching Romney and his surrogates stammer and sputter. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign surely knew it would be like this– the president is a “brass knuckled brawler.”
Do not count me among those, however, who believe Mitt Romney should cave and release eight to ten years of tax records. To what end? We know the guy’s rich. And rich guys probably take advantage of every tax deduction and loophole their accountants advise them to use. Just ask tax-me-more-oh-please-oh-please Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway company is still fighting the IRS over taxes.
No, if Romney does release more tax records, expect more of the same from the past week. I do not believe for one second that the issue would go away quickly. The Obama camp would probably find a trove of ad material in the records, and they would be discussed endlessly on cable news shows—the Obama campaign has a willing partner in the news media on stories such as this.
The Romney camp needs to get beyond the Bainers’ obsession with irrelevant details about his past and beyond those who want to shout to the world what we already know—the guy has money.
In the recent past, the Romney camp demonstrated smarts and feistiness that surprised skeptics (such as me) who wondered about his ability to stage a winning campaign. Now his staff needs to dig back and analyze how they successfully fended off previous irrelevant attacks.
For example, when liberals started to make an issue about Romney’s family dog (whose cage was strapped to the top of the station wagon for a road trip), the Romney camp used humor to put the issue in context. You wanna talk abuse of dogs, they seemed to be saying, well, bring it on (pointing out how the president admitted to actually, ugh, eating dog, in his travels).
That’s what they need to do now. Don’t explain. Don’t deflect. Demonstrate.
When the dog story appeared, the Romney team didn’t say then that Americans wanted to talk about jobs while the president wanted to talk about dogs. They demonstrated how desperate the Obama camp was when raising the dog issue by…talking about dogs.
Now they need to do the same by talking about records—Obama’s, not Romney’s. The Obama camp, aided and abetted by a herd-like media, is afire to have records released. The Romney camp could say: Fine. You don’t want to talk about jobs, you want to talk about records. Okay. Let’s talk about records. Release yours, and we’ll talk. Release your college transcripts—after all, weren’t you sold to the American people as one of the smartest guys in the room? Release Fast and Furious records. Release anything and everything related to those intelligence leaks. Release the details of the sweet deals green energy companies received, especially those that contributed to your campaign.
Release them all. Let them rain on newsrooms like confetti.
Don’t run away from the issue, in other words. Use it to your advantage. Talk about it, but talk about it your way to demonstrate how desperate the Obama campaign is to talk about anything but what’s important.
I would love to see the Romney camp use that as a drumbeat, relentlessly pounding the release-the-records chorus so loudly that it would drown out the Obama “Bainers” and their whine about tax records and Bain tenure. It would put Obama’s side of this discussion in context. He and his surrogates (including some in the media) want answers on Bain and taxes? The American people want answers on where their tax dollars went and why the White House can’t control leaks and its DOJ.
Which are the records we need to see most? Records that tell us what we already know—Romney was a businessman who accumulated a lot of treasure—or records that might shed light on how the current occupant of the White House has ineptly dealt with our blood and treasure?
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.