August 3rd, 2012
By Frank Byronn Glenn -- In a curious turn of phrase -- since everyone in the country has been calling on Mitt Romney to release 10 or 12 years worth of tax returns for the last several weeks --
Mitt Romney, in response to Harry Reid dropping the dime on him about not paying taxes for the last 10 years, call Senate Majority leader Reid out, telling him to "Put Up or Shut Up". And -- a top Romney campaign spokesperson essentially called, "shame, shame" on Reid as well. Reid responded, in classical form, to point out to Romney that he himself had already "Shut Up" on his tax returns, when he should be revealing details about them. Reid also, right on cue, said Romney should "Put Up" his tax returns and put all this baseless chatter to rest. Hear that, Mitt?
It has been a well-known and widely written about tactic of the Lee Atwaters and Karl Roves of the political world to do three things:
1) always accuse your opponent of the "dirty trick" or nasty and often illegal thing that you are about to do to them -- right before you do it to them -- so that when your opponent cries "foul", it has the appearance of a "turn-about-deserves-fair-play" tactic, as well as a political "playground" or "kettle calling the pot black" kind of whine -- and, accordingly, loses it credulity, its power, and its sting; 2) always attack your opponent on their strengths -- the theory being that if you can neutralize their strengths -- they will appear less substantial in the yes of the press and therefore in the eyes of the public -- and will be much easier to defeat; 3) always attack them for the unique "weakness" that you yourself have as a candidate -- only attack them for it before they attack you -- that way your accusation of them will always take precedence, resonate more, and have more credibility -- even if the accusation is a bald faced lie -- and when your opponent attacks you on your weakness -- it will seem "small minded", copycat, and paint the opponents campaign as one devoid of originality.
Of course, the real political genius in this thing this time, lies with the Democrats and Harry Reid -- in my opinion. Just as Romney returned from an international "charm" offensive that hadn't gone very well -
- and had the opportunity to change the subject back to the econc0nomy -- Romney runs into the Harry Reid "drops the dime on Romney" buzz-saw and Mr Romney arrives back home in the United States and walks right into a "firestorm" and "buzz-saw" that he appears helpless and hapless to do anything about -- creating at first and then deepening and enhancing the perception that there really is something in Romney tax returns that his campaign feels could be terminal to his Presidential run. The problem is -- it looks like a no-win situation. Handled effectively by the Democrats -- which so far it appears to have been -- either option selected by Romney may prove to be "terminal" to the Romney campaign for President. There appears to be something in the man's tax return that is so nasty he is willing -- at this moment, at least -- to run the gauntlet right on through summer and fall and right up and into the November Presidential election. Not an enviable position to be in -- for Mr Romney -- to be sure.
And even if there is nothing more damaging in Romney's tax returns ultimately than a "rich guy" simply doing what "rich guys do" -- and Mitt is embarrassed by it
-- then the Democrats and President Obama will have succeeded in gleaning the maximum -- and perhaps decisive -- political advantage from a non-event which was created by the Romney campaign itself refusing to divulge the legitimate but very revealing tax return of an American millionaire -- if not necessarily an American political hero.
And if Mitt Romney does in fact release 12 years of tax returns -- then he is correct in saying that the Obama campaign will pore over the "hundreds -- or thousands -- of pages" -- and will doubtlessly find innumerable things to point out,
question, reveal to the American public in campaign speeches, and things to query upon with raised eyebrows -- signaling the American people -- who have no idea how labyrinthine millionaire tax returns can get -- that something is suspiciously remiss and amiss in this rich man, 1% percenter's tax returns.
There has been a couple of phrases coined over time to describe predicaments like this. It is clearly a "no-win" proposition for Mr. Romney. And the Mittster has clearly -- now -- caught himself "between a rock and a hard spot". And I am definitely glad I am not a young, ambitious and on the rise political consultant in the Romney campaign charged with finding an attractive path out of this dilemma for candidate Romney who would be President. Until one is found, however, the national mantra should definitely remain, as Romney put it so well: "Put Up or Shut Up", Mr. Mitt!