Hiding Them Tells Us A Lot

Romney's Tax Returns

That Romney is even fighting on releasing his tax returns tells us a lot.

The drumbeat is building on this, and one doubts it's going to quiet down. You can't run for president and expect to get away with not releasing at least several years' worth of returns. In 2008, Barack Obama released his returns back to 2000, and he wasn't even rich, except for some book royalties.

Over at TPM, Brian Beutler makes an excellent point: Watch what Steve Schmidt has to say about all this. Why? Because in 2008, Schmidt was in charge of vetting possible veeps for McCain, and he knows what's here, writes Beutler:

Remember, in the VP vetting process Romney gave the McCain campaign over 20 years of tax returns. Schmidt ran that campaign and my hunch is he has the best combination of political smarts and actual knowledge of what’s in the returns to make the call.

Six months ago, he didn’t think it was worth it.

In other words, Schmidt's position on the issue might be a tell as to how damaging the info in those returns might be. Of course, Schmidt is under no obligation to say anything, as he's not an office holder or seeker, but if he goes on Maddow, as he often does, one reckons he'll be asked.

Meanwhile, Romney is lying as usual, having told Larry Kudlow that John Kerry only released two years so what's the big. Not true. Kerry released two years while running for president. But before that, as a sitting senator, he'd released batches of returns as he approached each reelection, meaning that he put 20 years' worth out there en toto.

My guess is that Romney will do that thing that really rich people often do, which is allow select reporters (that is to say, not anyone who knows details about taxes, like David Cay Johnston) to come to a sealed room, relinquish their cell phones, and spend three hours looking at a huge stack of returns but not take copies away. No one will learn anything and he'll then go out and say hey, we released them, and I'm clean.

The Democrats have to keep pounding this. Releasing your returns is just one of those things you have to do, like eating corn dogs in Iowa. That he is even fighting this point shows us, or at least gives us much reason to suspect, that the kind of capitalism he practiced for 25 years is utterly incompatible with civic responsibility.