Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) doesn't want to let the American people see his tax returns -- except for the two years where he knew he was running for president ( and in those two years he made sure they showed he paid some taxes and his accountants hid anything embarrassing). Romney claims that is enough, but even a growing chorus of conservatives aren't buying that. They think he's trying to hide something that would really piss voters off if it was exposed. I agree.
But there are still a few people who don't think he's trying to hide anything. In Esquire Magazine, Charles P. Pierce says Romney is not trying to hide something embarrassing -- he is just so contemptuous of ordinary people ("the help") that he doesn't think they have a right to put their dirty fingers on his pristine tax returns. Pierce says:
It is helpful always to remind yourself that, in the mind of Willard Romney, there are only two kinds of people ? himself and his family, and The Help. Throughout his career, and especially throughout his brief political career, Romney has treated The Help with a kind of lordly disdain. It was there when he swooped down from snowy Olympus and shoved an incumbent Republican governor named Jane Swift under a train. It was there in the general election in 2002, when he glibly pushed aside the Democratic candidate, state treasurer Shannon O'Brien, who raised almost all the same issues against Romney that the president and his people are belaboring him with today. The only time it didn't work was in his race against Senator Edward Kennedy, when Romney found himself up against a candidate with so much money that he couldn't outspend him, and so much historical gravitas that he couldn't ignore him.
The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he's running for office.
This isn't stubbornness. That's often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.
Pierce is partially right. There is no doubt that Romney has an abiding contempt for ordinary Americans, and he does a very poor job of hiding it most of the time. But if that's all it was, then the growing chorus of Republicans upset by his refusal would have convinced him to release more tax returns by now. No, there is more to it than that. There is something that Romney wants to hide -- something so embarrassing it has the potential of costing him millions of votes.
So Romney is going to try and get through this with a grim smile and all the bravado he can muster -- in the hope that it will go away and be forgotten by election day. He's wrong. This is one of those issues that Democrats can ride all the way to election day, asking continuously "What is he hiding?".
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