Monday, August 13, 2012

A Bunch Is More Than Two

The mystery of Mitt Romney’s tax returns got a bit of a bump when it was disclosed that Paul Ryan and all the other entrants in the veepstakes had to submit more than just two years of tax returns to the Romney campaign for vetting.

In a briefing with reporters in Virginia Saturday, senior adviser Beth Myers, who was charged with headed the vice president selection process, declined to specify exactly how many years of tax returns were required, saying only that “several” were requested.

Several, by definition, implies more than two years.

Tim Pawlenty told George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” this morning that he gave “several” years of tax returns to Mitt Romney during the vice presidential vetting process. Pawlenty said he didn’t remember the exact number of years. He later said he gave Romney a “bunch” of tax returns.

When pressed about what “several” meant, Pawlenty said “We don’t get into the details of the vetting process.”

More than two, less than twelve? Bigger than a breadbox?

Mr. Romney says he’s reluctant to release his own returns because of what the Obama campaign will do to them: he is sure that they will lie and distort what’s in them. (Get me Dr. Freud, stat.) That’s not a subtle indicator that there is something in those returns to note without even resorting to the kind of lying and distortion that Mr. Romney would undoubtedly do with the information if the tables were turned.

The tax return issue is more than just knowing a candidate’s financial history. In American politics, it’s become a metaphor for how we live and tells what’s important to us: charitable giving tells who we look out for outside of our family, investments tell us both fiscal prudence and ideological support of corporate interests. In our capitalist nature, the tax return is the window into the soul.

Mr. Romney is asking America to trust him with, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor by electing him president. The least he can do is trust us with knowing him a little better than just “Trust me.”