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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Confronted With His Secrecy, Romney Plays the Victim Card

A few days ago, I wondered if anyone actually knew who Mitt Romney really was. Was he the moderate governor of Massachusetts? Or was the centrism an act to win in a blue state? Is he the far-right Tea Party type he seems to be now -- or is that an act to win the GOP primaries? We have no way of knowing, other than to take Mitt's word for things. And that'd be a lot easier if Mitt's presentation of himself weren't constantly changing.

As the DNC video above demonstrates, these questions have occurred to more people than just myself. Not only does Mittens have secret plans for after the elections, he has a secret ideology, a secret past, and secret wealth.

Steve Benen:

Mitt Romney appears rather desperate to shield his tax returns from public scrutiny. He has the materials -- when Romney was considered for John McCain's 2008 ticket, the former governor turned over 23 years worth of returns -- he just doesn't want to share the materials.

The Romney campaign, however, has a new line it hopes will put a stop to the questions. Ed Gillespie told Fox News the other day, "In 2004, John Kerry as a Democratic presidential nominee, released two years of tax returns. In 2012, Governor Romney will release two years." Romney himself repeated this on CNBC yesterday, saying, "John Kerry released two years of taxes."

The problem, of course, is that the talking point isn't true. Judd Legum explained that Kerry, by the time of his 2004 presidential campaign, had actually released 20 years of tax returns.

Romney was only off by a factor of 10.


So let's not pretend Romney's any more honest than he is open. But secretiveness is today's subject.

"If it were just the tax returns, it'd be problematic enough," Benen goes on, "but Romney appears to have established a pattern that leaves him vulnerable: he bought the hard drives from his term as governor so he could hide emails from the public; he's hiding the names of his fundraising bundlers from the public; he's keeping details of his policy agenda hidden from the public until after the election, etc."

The short version here is that Mitt Romney's trying to sell you a product he's unwilling to demonstrate for you -- or even show you. He's hiding everything about that product, so you can use your own imagination. The less he reveals, the more you can imagine he's exactly what you want him to be.

Since the criticisms of Romney's secrecy inarguably have merit, the candidate and his surrogates have to be creative in his defense. Although "creative" isn't exactly the right word here. Romney's defense is anything but. "Old and stale and threadworn" is probably a better description of the conservative's favorite go-to: the victim card.

Alec MacGillis finds Mitt's victimhood on display in a Politico piece:

WHAT REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING about the “penchant for secrecy” attack line against Romney: “These are exactly the kind of questions we asked about Obama in 2008 and were accused of race baiting, or suggesting he was somehow un-American. Now they ask it: What’s his secret? It does seem like they are going after the Mormonism, right? I’d do the same thing if I was them. But we were never up on our high horse about better angels and hope and change and all that B.S..”

—From an LDS member: “[T]his is a way to talk about Romney’s Mormonism without appearing to be attacking his religion. … Because, isn’t Mormonism some mysterious cult involving secret temple rites and strange undergarments? And it just happens to dovetail with some minor points on offshore accounts, but I think the message between the lines is clear.”

I don't remember Obama being accused of hiding his agenda back in 2008, but then again, accuracy isn't a requirement in a Republican talking point.

But is this really the best they can come up with; that calling out Mitt on his stealth agenda and his secret wealth is an attack on Mormonism? Really?

If this really is the best defense Team Romney and Friends could cook up to defend the candidate from (accurate) charges that he's hiding pretty much everything he can from voters, then that tells us one thing: it's indefensible.


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