Let's stipulate this: Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is rich. He, like most Americans, likely has paid the least amount of tax legally required every year. He is a robust, unapologetic capitalist who, among other things, headed up Bain Capital and even invested -- gasp! -- overseas. He has worked for a living and understands business and economics.
While we are at it, let's stipulate this, too: President Barack Obama, who laments the Constitution is a little light on "social justice," is a shameless socialist with no real vision for this nation except all-powerful government. He does not understand business or economics. He plays fast and loose with the truth, and his war on capitalism, dalliance with cronyism, class warfare and bold lies have pushed America to the brink. The question no longer is, "Are you better off now than four years ago?" It is: "Are you going to survive?"
Obama, who plays to our innate distrust of the rich, though rich himself, never really has worked in the private sector and appears befuddled by the machinations of commerce beyond wasting tax dollars to bail out dissipated unions -- the $30 billion loss in the General Motors bailout is a good example -- or pouring cash into the moribund "green" industry. He no longer can blame George Bush for his problems without eliciting guffaws even from his rapacious political remoras.
Add to all that the revelation last week that one of Obama's campaign "bundlers," Jonathan Lavine, is chief investment officer and managing director of the hated Bain Capital, and has been there since 1993. The Obama camp recklessly claimed in an attack ad that Romney headed up Bain, which controlled a mill in Kansas City -- GST Steel -- when it failed and workers were laid off. That is untrue. Even Democrats are getting itchy about Obama's truth problem.
If you were Obama, would you rather defend your painfully obvious mis-, mal- and nonfeasance or bash Romney's finances and Bain Capital? After all, how hard is it to gin up hatred for a rich, white-bread guy who invests overseas? Obama, an acolyte of Chicago thug politics, unabashedly is choosing a course through the political gutter.
Congressional Democrats, CNN, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, Obama & Co. and U.S. News & World Report, along with a handful of Republicans who really should know better, have spent more than a week questioning Romney's ties to Bain and clamoring for him to release additional years of his tax returns. He says he will not. He produced his 2010 return and says he soon will release more from 2011. That, he says, is quite enough.
That set congressional Democrats to yammering for requirements that presidential hopefuls release 10 years of tax records and any information about overseas investments. None, mind you, is demanding Obama release his personal information, including his university grades or medical files or college financial information or that pesky Social Security number thingy. After being prodded by McClatchy Newspapers, just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid not among them -- released their most-recent tax forms or provided similar documentation. The hypocrisy is stunning.
Romney is more than right to tell the lot of them to pound sand. If he were to give them five years of tax records, they would demand 10. If he provided 10, they would want 15. Once they had records, they would nitpick, shred and sift the documents to find something, anything, to steer the debate away from Obama's nightmare -- the abject state of the nation's economy and the soaring unemployment rate.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer got it right when he said Romney should not surrender the data. "I believe in the honor of John McCain," Krauthammer said in National Review Online. "He looked at them (the records), he says they were OK. That's enough for me. Two years is enough."
It is more than enough. Obama's attacks are choreographed distractions. Romney must stick with success. The economy. Jobs. The debt. Obama's war on American exceptionalism; his attack on capitalism. Providing Democrats with unnecessary data to generate additional lies is not the answer.
More important, it draws Romney off-message. He has been disciplined and focused. He needs to ignore Obama's subterfuge. There is no compromise. This election is for the country's future. At the end of the day, voters will see Obama for what he is:
A dangerous and sorry fraud.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.
By PAUL JENKINS