The Republican party claims to be caught in a catch-22. The precipitating factor? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Romney of going ten years without paying taxes.
Now, for the normal American I don’t think this would pose a problem. If you or I were running for public office and someone accused us of tax evasion the obvious thing to do would be to promptly and succinctly prove them wrong – and then move on. Unfortunately, however, Mitt Romney is not a “normal American” and, worse, the GOP seems to feel that it is their responsibility to “protect” him. In and of itself maybe there’s nothing wrong with Republican leaders coming together to defend their presumptive presidential nominee, but that largely depends on what it is that they are defending him against. In this case, its transparency and accountability. Harry Reid’s attack on Romney is a harsh one, however, to categorize it as a catch-22 situation seems an overreaction – unless Romney really is hiding something and, given his monumentally duplicitous history (and present), that’s certainly probable.
Doesn’t the GOP vet its candidates? Certainly, Romney has just as much of a right to refuse revealing his tax returns to the RNC as he does to withhold them from the public but then there’s no reason that the RNC needs to pamper and coddle him as their favorite until he submits to a full vetting process either. Perhaps, however, they do know something we don’t and that’s why Republicans are calling this a catch-22: ignore Reid’s claims and people will assume that they are true; address his claims and reveal Romney’s tax returns to the public and they’ll know that they are true.
Whatever the content of those controversial and elusive tax returns there’s no denying that this whole thing is a mess – a mess that could simply be avoided if the GOP would lose the demagoguery, practice transparency and hold its candidates accountable. What we have instead is the picture of oligarchy. The political right isn’t protecting their man from guys like Reid on the left; they are protecting a multi-millionaire capitalist from normal people like you and me. Certainly, being rich and powerful doesn’t mean that Romney has to release his tax returns but neither does he have to run for president. When a man runs for the most powerful position in the country and political and social demands seek transparency form him he had better oblige, because to refuse represents a betrayal to the American people. To deny the call to transparency is to say I don’t have to hold myself accountable to the very American people that my public office is meant to serve. Public servants don’t do that; but tyrants do.
This is just another reason why either a Romney or an Obama victory means disaster for Americans. Both have shown no interest in transparency or being held accountable – Obama’s just too cool to be caught up in in the same level of public controversy. However, in addition to a lack of transparency, both are self-serving and therefore serve the politically-connected special interest groups that fund them (like Goldman Sachs, for example, which is Romney’s #1 campaign contributer and Obama’s #2 (and Obama’s #1 in 2008)). Both are eager to give themselves more power at everyone else’s expense, as evidenced by both politicians’ support of the executive kill list. This isn’t left versus right; this is bipartisan oligarchy versus everyone else.