Monday, January 23, 2012

Given Two Unpleasant Choices on Releasing His Tax Returns, Mitt Romney Picks a Third Choice That is Even Worse

How Can Anyone Who Has Run This Good a Campaign Be This Inept?

When he decided to get into politics Mitt Romney knew he was a rich person.  As he continued to stay in politics, winning the Governorship of Massachusetts in 2002 he was much richer.  Now that he is running for President in 2012 Mr. Romney is still rich.

When you run for President and it is clear you are going to get the nomination you pretty much have to release your tax returns.  There is no law that requires this, but it has been done for many years and it is very difficult not to do it. 

Mr. Romney did not want to release his tax returns.  So he had two choices.  One is that he could have stuck to his position, and taken the heat that not releasing his tax returns will generate.  People would have cared initially, but nothing is shorter than the attention span of the American voter.  Eventually the issue would have been old news.  A second choice would have been to release the returns very early, the best time would have been in August, take the flak for whatever is on there and move on.

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney's Leg

Mitt Romney decided last year that he would not release his returns, and went on television to say that he would not do so.  But having made his choice the pressure brought on him was too great for him to withstand, so he needed to go to plan B, release the info, take the heat and move on.  But Mr. Romney decided on a new strategy, to let the information dribble out and keep the issue alive for far longer than it otherwise would be. 

This strategy, as everyone who has watched political scandals unfold is an unmitigated disaster.  Mr. Romney first said he wouldrelease the info in April, after he has secured the nomination.  Not only did that keep the issue open, it also represented the arrogance that Mr. Romney is also vulnerable on, in this case acting as the presumptive nominee.  Voters hate that, and at least some in South Carolina probably voted against Mr. Romney whom they otherwise prefered just on that issue alone.

Mr. Romney was and is in a terrible position.  If he waited until April he kept the issue alive.  Now that he has decided to release some returns, he looks like he has caved to pressure, not a position for the “no apology” candidate to take.  Why has he made this incredible blunder?

The reason is fairly simple.  Mr. Romney was faced with two unpleasant choices, and like all of us when we are faced a choice between two unappealing alternatives he ignored the issue hoping it would go away.  Hence he was not even remotely prepared to address the issue when he decided to address the issue. 
This Forum has always insisted that Mr. Obama could not win re-election on his own record, because he has wasted too much political capital, but that his opponent could lose the election.  Mr. Romney took a giant step in that direction.  And it looks like he is going to continue walking down that road, with Newt Gingrich like an agitated bulldog biting his ankles. 

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