“Sorry pal, all I’ve got is $1,000 bills on me.”

By all accepted definitions and norms, Willard Mitt Romney is an unqualified American success story. Not only has he achieved more and provided a better life for his children than his father George did for Mitt and his 4 siblings – a tall task considering the senior Romney ran a major automobile company and was the governor of Michigan – he’s done it in what seems to be a spectacular manner.

After a brutal yet absurdly comical primary campaign – consider for a moment that at one time or another, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry actually led in several respected polls – and out raising an incumbent president stung by back-to-back disappointing jobs reports by millions of dollars the past two months, Romney should be riding high and focusing on selecting a running mate and honing his message to voters.

But, for the past week now, Romney, thanks to his mishandling what should have been a relatively routine release of his tax returns and a resurgent Barack Obama in full campaign mode, has found himself under attack by both Democrats and Republicans alike. I mean, when you’ve got Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) arguing that you should release more of your tax records: “I think anyone running for office, if they get asked within reason to give people background about what they have been doing, including tax returns, should do that. That’s my deal on it”, you’ve got problems.

What should and could have been a 2-3 day story at worst – “Hey America, Mitt Romney’s much richer and paid less in taxes than anyone could have possibly imagined!” – has dominated every news cycle for the last 7 days and shows little, if any sign of abating any time soon. (Not to appear cynical, but don’t think for a minute that the Romney campaign isn’t happy that something else, unfortunately in this case it’s the horrific situation in Aurora, hasn’t popped up to become the #1 story on this Sunday’s news programs.)

By defiantly doubling down on not releasing more than his last two returns and giving a truly bizarre reason for not doing so – “I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them [the Obama campaign] hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about” – only served to make even more people wonder exactly what Romney’s so afraid of the public seeing in his tax returns. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder or more convoluted, his wife Ann said this during an interview on Thursday: “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.” Actually Ann, you haven’t.

Translation: “you people” as in “You poor, unwashed masses who are beneath us and not worthy of our attention. How dare you question how and why we’re so rich and how we shelter our money in off-shore accounts and other complex financial transactions? You’re not able to understand the magnitude of our lives and we’re not going to tell you anything we don’t want you to know. Just make Mitt president and everything will be hunky-dory in America.”

Sorry Ann (and Mitt), but it just doesn’t work that way in modern-day America. See, if you want the #1 job in the country, if you want the “big” house in D.C., Camp David, Air Force One, Marine One, the bulletproof limo and full-time, presidential-level Secret Service protection, etc, etc, then you’ve got to be more forthcoming about your tax returns and financial situation. Forget about the 23 years of returns you gave the McCain campaign in ’08; let’s split the difference, add a few years and you let us see everything since Mitt says he left Bain in early 1999.

Because if you can’t do that and insist on hiding behind Ann’s ridiculously condescending and insulting statement, then you can’t be our president. This is probably hard for a former CEO used to giving orders and not answering questions you don’t like to get through your thick head of hair, but you don’t get to make the rules here. The American people, mainly via the media, get to make them. And to a lesser, but possibly more influential degree, your opponent does too if you let them. And so far, you’ve let the Obama campaign define you to a large degree. I thought you learned this in 2008 and again this year, but I guess the lessons wore off quickly.

Because you’ve chosen to pretty much repudiate the signature accomplishment of your governorship, a healthcare reform law in Massachusetts that according to the person who drafted much of it, he used as a template for the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”, your whole campaign is based on your time at Bain and running the Olympics. You won’t tell us much about the former except that you made a lot of money thus you know how the economy works and how to create jobs and we’re just now learning how devious and underhanded you were at the latter (don’t like to mention that $342 million in federal funds you got from Washington, do you?). No wonder you’ve been so quiet about the recent mini-scandal about this summer’s Olympic team uniforms being made in China; hell, excuse me, heck, you outsourced yours to Burma (!) when you had the chance. I guess the only thing you like “Made in America” is your money and Ann’s “couple of Cadillacs.” (Any chance that your 4-car elevator for the La Jolla beach house will be made here?)

You want to be president? You think you can do a better job with the economy? Okay, then tell and show us more about your finances. Tell us what your domestic and foreign policy positions are besides “Whatever Obama did, I’ll do something else.” Give the American people a reason why we should vote out of office the man who kept the nation from entering into what most economists say would have been the second “Great Depression.” Tell us why we should make you, a former one-term governor with ABSOLUTELY NO FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE, Commander-In-Chief. Tell us why you deserve our trust and votes.

If you can’t do that, then you can’t, don’t deserve to be and most likely, won’t be president.


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