Friday, August 03, 2012

Romney: Racist, Tax Dodger, or Just a Cheapskate?

Two recent developments in the Romney campaign bear watching:

1.  His recent trip abroad was, according to Politico's Roger Simon, "a disaster wrapped in a debacle inside a calamity."  The allegations of racism from Palestinians are probably par for the course in Middle Eastern politics, but our favorite moment was when, after Mitt visited Warsaw's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, his press secretary kept reporters at bay by shouting a loose paraphrase of Exodus 3:5: "Kiss my ass!  This is a holy place!"  (Perhaps this is the Mormon version).

2.  Harry Reid now claims to have heard from "an extremely credible source" that Romney hasn't paid income taxes in a decade.  After promising to look into the matter, the Romney campaign quickly announced that it would have no further comment.  This story raises two noteworthy questions:

(a)  Is it true?  The campaign's promise of silence almost certainly means that it is. This raises the possibility that the wealthiest man to ever run for president pays lower taxes than, say, a single mom from Peoria.  As Reid say, the super-wealthy have mastered the art of hiding their money, and a story like this one drives home the vast difference between the lives and values of of the haves and have-nots.  We can expect to hear John Kerry's underrated line about "Benedict Arnold corporations" recycled to "Benedict Arnold plutocrats."

(b)  What's the source?  Romney's campaign has suggested that Reid's informant is, ultimately, the white House.  If true, that raises some serious questions about the use of government agencies for partisan politicking, and virtually guarantees that heads will roll in the executive branch.  But there is also speculation that the informant is inside the Romney campaign and, specifically, inside the LDS movement, to which both Reid and Romney belong.  Remember that the Mormons are notably strict about tithing.  If Romney has been using the same tricks to shortchange his church that he uses to avoid the taxman, it is entirely possible that a  fellow-Mormon might be righteously offended and looking for justice.

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