Happy returns of the script: You’ll rarely see a journalist who is so flatly wrong.
Usually, scribes are more skillful. Why say something that is wrong when you can say something misleading?
In today’s column, Gene Robinson urges Candidate Romney to come clean with his tax returns. In the process, Robinson recites a howling, erroneous script:
ROBINSON (8/7/12): Who is this alleged source? Reid won’t say. It’s reasonable to question whether the source even exists, much less whether he or she would be in a position to know what’s in those tax forms Romney is so reluctant to reveal. It’s understandable that the GOP candidate and his surrogates would accuse Reid of an unfair attack.Wow. That is just flatly wrong, although it's the tale we Dems like.
But they can’t prove it’s an untrue attack unless Romney does what conservative commentators and Republican insiders have been urging: Release the tax returns, as Americans have expected of every presidential candidate since, well, since Romney’s father set the standard in 1968.
Romney did release his 2010 tax return, and he promises to release the full 2011 return when it is completed. No recent presidential candidate has tried to get away with such meager disclosure.
Duh. In 2008, Candidate McCain released only two years of his tax returns. Even that release was of limited value, since the McCain family’s extensive wealth was accounted for in his wife’s tax returns. (The McCains file separate returns.)
Robinson’s paper, the Washington Post, insisted that Cindy McCain release her tax returns. In September 2008, John Broder (no relation) of the New York Times explained where matters stood:
BRODER (9/13/08): In April, Mr. McCain, of Arizona, released tax forms for the last two years, but the bulk of the McCain wealth remains in the hands of his wife, Cindy, whose returns are filed separately and have not been released. (She released only a summary of her 2006 income tax return this year.) As the heiress to a large Anheuser-Bush beer distributorship, Mrs. McCain is worth perhaps as much as $100 million. The McCain campaign has said that she will not release her full returns to protect her family and her children.In mid-October, Cindy McCain released a two-page summary of her tax return for 2007. The final tally:
Candidate John McCain’s tax returns:When Romney releases his tax return for 2011, he will have produced fuller disclosure of his wealth that Candidate McCain did—or the same amount of disclosure, if you don't want to count McCain’s wife.
John McCain released tax returns for only two years—2006 and 2007.
Cindy McCain released two-page summaries of her tax returns for those same two years.
Romney has cited this fact on the trail. Robinson types something different today—something that's flatly wrong.
Observers may think two years isn’t enough—but Robinson’s statement is flatly inaccurate. The culture of the pseudo-conservative world continues to spread through our tribe.
The returns of Candidate Kerry: In 2004, Candidate Kerry released a boatload of tax returns. But in that case, the family's truly gigantic wealth was in his wife's tax returns.
(The Kerrys are generally reported to be far wealthier than the Romneys.)
Here too, Robinson's paper insisted that Teresa Heinz Kerry release her returns; like Cindy McCain, she refused. In the end, she released short summaries for two years of returns, as Cindy McCain later did.
You can score Kerry's disclosure however you like. But at best, McCain released two years of returns. Robinson's statement is tribally scripted but wrong.