I could be wrong…

August 9, 2012

… but I think Donald Trump had the right idea from the beginning on how Romney should respond to Harry Reid on the tax return “issue.”

I suspect both sides’ internals show the opposite of the skewed sample media polls. That would explain the Democrats’ desperate attacks and Mitt’s do nothing strategy. The first rule of politics is when your opponent is digging a hole, stay out of the way. Or maybe Romney’s strategy is a variant of George Constanza’s rule for success: do the opposite of what your opponents and their media allies tell you to do. Let them continue beating a dead horse until they look ridiculous. This satirical masterpiece from The Onion drives home the point.

The downside is the people who get it probably weren’t voting for Obama anyway, so this preposterous claim could actually net Obama a few undecided (i.e., uninformed) votes.

I know discretion is the better part of valor and all that, but man, I wish we’d go for the jugular sometime.

Here’s a first draft at the Mitt rebuttal speech I’d like to hear.

“First of all, there is no law requiring anyone to make their tax returns public. However, I understand that we expect greater disclosure of presidential candidates and I’m prepared to release my tax returns for the last 10 years. I believe in full disclosure; presidential nominees from both parties should be fully vetted. Failing to do so, even with the best of intentions, is a disservice to the American people. Never again should a national party nominate for the nation’s highest office a candidate with so many secrets, so many unanswered questions about his past.

“I find it curious that this president and his party are basing so much of the case for his reelection on my tax returns. One would think we had bigger issues to worry about. I find it ironic that they’re so insistent that I release my tax records when the President hasn’t released his Occidental college school records, his Columbia school records, his Harvard Law School records, his college thesis, his published law review articles, his SAT scores, his LSAT scores, his medical records, even a certified copy of his actual birth certificate. Every other Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate in the modern era has made these records public. President Bush released his grades and SAT scores. Vice President Gore and Senator Kerry released theirs as well. But this president won’t release his. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?

“In fact, he’s spent over $4 million on legal fees fighting against disclosure of these documents. Now he and I can afford to spend that kind of money, but why would someone spend $4 million to keep his personal records hidden? Particularly someone who campaigned on transparency, another empty promise that today appears as hollow as the “Hope and Change” slogan he sold to the American people four years ago.

“The other day, the Senate Majority Leader of his party said—on the floor of the US Senate no less—that I didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years. This is a bold and brazen LIE. My tax records will show: one, I made a lot of money; two, I gave a lot of money to charity; and three, I paid every cent I owe in taxes. You know, I actually feel sorry for Harry. Because if he is capable of shame, then he must feel terribly ashamed to serve as the instrument of such a smear. And if he doesn’t feel shame, then he is to be pitied even more.

“Now I understand the President’s and his party’s motive—they’re desperate. They know this president can’t run on his record, because his record is one of unmitigated disaster and epic failure. Even he must realize this or else he would not sanction such desperate and sleazy tactics.

“Throughout our history, incumbent presidents seeking reelection have proudly run on their records. But this president is running away from his record, and what a record it is:
• 42 consecutive months of unemployment at or over 8% (15% when you include people who’ve given up looking for work altogether)
• a stalled economy, with no semblance of leadership and no plan for turning things around
• a cynical and confused foreign policy that bows before foreign leaders, lectures and insults our best allies and appeases and emboldens our worst enemies
• a proposed budget that was rejected unanimously by the same Senate his party controls
• his signature accomplishment—a 2,700 healthcare bill that the American people opposed and many of his own supporters sought and received exemptions from
• record job losses
• record deficits
• adding $5 trillion to the national debt in just three years, and lastly
• the credit rating of the US downgraded for the first time in history.

“All on this president’s watch. This is his record and it isn’t pretty. No wonder he’s running away from it as fast as he can run.

“Well Mr. President, in the famous words of Joe Louis, ‘you can run, but you can’t hide.’

“Here’s the deal. I’ll release my tax returns when you release your school records.

“Or as they say in Chicago, ‘put up or shut up.’“

H/t to The Donald for the basic idea. The “speech” literally wrote itself on my computer tonight.