It’s not often that a candidate for president will publicly declare that he doesn’t consider himself to be qualified for the office he is seeking. But that is precisely what the putative Republican nominee Mitt Romney has just done.
In an interview with ABC News this weekend, Romney was asked about his stubborn refusal to make his tax returns public, as almost every candidate for president has done since his own father set the precedent over forty years ago. Romney’s response was a typically arrogant expression of his sense of privilege wherein members of his elitist caste are not subject to the rules that the rest of the riff raff have to live by:
Romney: “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president,”
Once again Romney has stuck to his position that he doesn’t believe that the American people are worthy appraisers of his fitness for office or that they are entitled to ascertain whether he has had any shady dealings or conflicts of interest. And with a financial portfolio as vast as Romney’s, conflicts are difficult to avoid.
But what’s really interesting is his self-assessment about what qualifies one to be president. According to Romney the criteria includes whether or not you ever overpaid your federal income taxes. Unfortunately, Romney’s determined defiance to reveal his tax returns prevents us from applying his own criteria so that we make a judgment as to his qualifications.
However, another source has emerged that may settle the question. Ben Domenech, of the ultra-rightist web site RedState, has discovered what Romney is really hiding. The truth, according to Domenech, is that Romney did overpay his federal taxes. Domenech, citing “people who were familiar with the veep vetting process for McCain in 2008,” said…
“We know he turned over more than two decades of returns to the McCain campaign during the veepstakes vetting process. What was in them? Mitt’s taxes were complex, but clean. He overpaid his taxes.”
There you have it. The only people other than Romney’s accounting staff who have seen his tax returns have affirmed that Romney overpaid. Romney believes that such overpayment of taxes is a disqualification for the presidency. That might explain his obstinance with regards to being honest with voters about his taxes. He doesn’t want them to know that he is an unqualified hack by his own standards.
For the record, I don’t buy for minute that Romney overpaid his taxes. That’s a transparently biased polishing of his record by a far right-wing toady who opened his big mouth before Romney laid out his silly principle of overpayment. Now it has doubled back to bite him in the ass. But the controversy illustrates just how tone-deaf Romney is about the tax return issue. Voters need to know that their president is not a crook (h/t R. Nixon), but Romney will not provide the documentation necessary for us to make an informed judgment. It’s clear that Romney has made his own judgment as articulated by conservative George Will (along with eighteen other prominent conservatives):
“The costs of not releasing the returns are clear, therefore he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”
Exactly. And that’s why the American people need to know more about Romney before they can ever take his candidacy seriously.