April 16th, 2012

Obama charges Romney with being secretive

Audacity, they name is Obama:

Mitt Romney handed President Obama a political gift this weekend, when his campaign announced that he would not file his tax return on time. Romney made the announcement at 5 p.m. on Friday — the time politicians usually put out bad news they hope no one will notice. Team Obama noticed all right. The president took a break from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia to criticize Romney’s lack of transparency, while Obama campaign manager Jim Messina declared that it “begs the question — what does he have to hide?”

“What does he have to hide?” will be a major theme of the Obama campaign in the coming months. Both a pro-Obama super PAC and the Democratic National Committee have videos up asking: “What’s Mitt hiding?” And Obama strategist David Axelrod has told Politico that the Obama campaign intends to make an issue of “Romney’s penchant for secrecy.” “Harkening back to my youth . . . there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign,” Axelrod said, adding that voters need to ask themselves “Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?”

Seems to be the new meme, and it’s a puzzling one to me. Why would Obama, who lives in a glass house, want to throw this particular boulder? But perhaps Obama is correct in his assumption that the American public hasn’t noticed that all these charges hold true far more for Obama himself than for Romney.

That said, Romney should have been ready with his taxes, especially after he was widely criticized for dragging his feet on his tax releases during the debates. There has never been any question that this campaign will be as nasty as they come, and that the attack will focus on Romney as a fat cat capitalist pig (mixed animal metaphor there, but you know what I mean). Since Obama can’t use his usual m.o. of gaining access to an opponent’s sealed divorce records, it will just have to do instead to force Romney to reveal every single facet of his very complex economic life.

21 Responses to “Obama charges Romney with being secretive”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    It is tactical: where ever a candidate (such as Obama) is vulnerable, that candidate attacks his opponent (Romney) for exactly the same thing. In the minds of voters, the initial attacker (in this case, Obama) is inoculated when eventual assertions are made against him (i.e. Obama lacks transparency). To voters, those eventual assertions (i.e. Obama lacks transparency) look like sour grapes counteraccusations.

    Mitt Romney used this same tactic in 2008, and has repeatedly used this same tactic during this 2012 Repub primary season. That is why, for instance, Romney began attacking Rick Perry for being soft on immigration. It was a laughable assertion: Perry was stronger on immigration, and more knowledgeable, than any other candidate. Romney’s attacks took away Perry’s advantage, and inoculated Romney against charges of being soft on immigration. During this Repub primary season, there are multiple additional examples of Romney attacking other candidates in an exact area in which Romney himself would be vulnerable to attack. Axelrod is merely implementing Romney’s playbook.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: good point. But Axelrod is not merely implementing Romney’s playbook. Axelrod wrote the book quite some time ago.

    I do still wonder why Obama and company are focusing on this particular topic, though. There’s plenty of other things to strike on rather than secrecy, and not knowing what’s in someone’s mind. And since those charges against Obama way preceded this one against Romney by the Obama campaign, it still seems an odd topic to focus on.

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Obama can afford to play this game. He knows the media aren’t going to question his records of any sort.

  4. PCachu Says:

    It’s all flailing and trial balloons with this one, Neo. They can’t run on their existing record — they know if the election is perceived as a referendum, they’ve already lost — so they have to look for some demagogic approach, any approach, that can give them an out to avoid confronting their epic disaster. If this angle works, they note its effectiveness and try the next (since even they know there’s no one magic bullet that can save them); if not, they just pretend they never brought it up (for which their faithful lapdogs in the media will dutifully provide cover) and, again, move on to the next.

    Think of it as a public beta-testing phase for the actual Obama campaign, paid for in no small part by you, the American taxpayer. You’re welcome.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    PCachu: yes, they are throwing lots of stuff up to see what sticks.

  6. gcotharn Says:

    I do still wonder why Obama and company are focusing on this particular topic, though.

    Two guesses at Axelrod’s reasons:

    1. Axelrod fears Obama Admin internal scandals. For instance, Obama Admin is massively stonewalling the Fast and Furious investigation by congress. Axelrod needs inoculation regarding a charge of “lack of transparency”.

    2. Have you noticed the Breitbart.com ongoing series, titled “The Vetting”? The idea is that Breitbart.com is going to do the vetting of Obama which was not done in 2008. Obama has vulnerabilities which stretch back to Chicago, and possibly to Manhattan. Axelrod will resist any public calls for Obama to explain details of, for instance, the Chicago real estate deal for his home. Yet, Axelrod will be helped if Obama is inoculated against charges of “lack of transparency.”

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: I’ve never understood why nobody who opposed Obama ever focused on the Alice Palmer story. Obama’s role in it was repugnant, and belies the idea of him as a nice guy, probably more than anything else I’ve ever heard. His supporters no doubt have ways to ignore it, excuse it, or justify it (after all, what he did was perfectly legal), but in human terms it was really bad.

  8. gcotharn Says:

    My only thought on the Alice Palmer story: difficult to reduce to a sound bite; average voter needs a sound bite story, or will ignore.

    I agree that the betrayal of Alice Palmer was cold cold blooded: rips the nice guy facade off, forever and permanently; reveals the cold blooded political operator.

    This something which strikes me about Obama: he has never paid a price. For anything. He commits cold cold blooded actions, and experiences no painful consequences. He stabbed Alice Palmer, and … nothing. He lost one political race, to Bobby Rush, and failed upwards — becoming a U.S. Senator only 2 years later. This guy has never paid a price for any of his mediocrity or duplicity.

  9. gcotharn Says:

    If he does pay a price, in Nov 2012, no one will be more shocked than him.

  10. blert Says:

    In my humble experience with the investor class, extensions are ALWAYS required because various K-1s from partnerships and S Corps are still not in hand.

    I’d be amazed if Mitt EVER filed an ‘April’ 1040.

  11. expat Says:

    I think I read that Romney released a preliminary return and was waiting for additional forms to finalize it. That would fit in with the forms you mentioned. Of course, we shouldn’t expect anyone on Obama’s team to know anything about taxes. Right, Tim?

  12. Tesh Says:

    I’d love it if this was intentional on Romney’s part. It’s not like tax day is a big surprise. Bait out the inevitable whining from the Obama camp then use their own sound bites to twist the knife.

    Not sure if the RNC is that savvy, but that would be a nice move in the PR game.

  13. Charles Says:

    I did catch Romney on ABC news tonight. I loved his answer to why he doesn’t/won’t release 12 years worth or tax returns even though his father did.

    Romney said:

    “The president is going to try and do everything possible to divert from the attention being focused upon his record as president and the failure of his economic policies.”

    “So he’s going to try to make this campaign about the fact that I’ve been successful, that I’ve made a lot of money.”

    I hope this tactic on Romney’s part works well. I think the American people are generally not a jealous people who would try to knock someone down simply because they are more successful – many do that; but, I think (and hope that I am not wrong!) that most middle class folks do not go for that kind of nonsense.

    As an anyone-but-Obama voter I would have voted for Romney anyway; but, after seeing that short interview with him and his wife tonight on ABC news I am firmly in his camp and think that he does have what it takes to be President! yea!

  14. Parker Says:

    No one should be surprised by any of the dirty tricks, bait and switch, and pure demagoguery that team BHO is going to pull out of the Chicago toolbox. As others have noted, BHO can’t run on his record as POTUS. This will be a no prisoners taken campaign.

    Romney needs to stay on point and beat the drum of BHO’s record, and stay ready to twist the knife whenever BHO leaves an opening. I’d love it if Romney offered to reveal his tax returns in exchange for BHO releasing his college transcripts and a hard copy of his birth certificate.

  15. Pat Says:

    All Romney has to say is “I’ll release all my tax releases when you release all your academic records”.

  16. Gringo Says:

    All Romney has to say is “I’ll release all my tax releases when you release all your academic records”.

    We have a winner.

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Why would Obama, who lives in a glass house, want to throw this particular boulder?” neo-neocon

    Why not, it’s worked before… As we all remember, in 2008, many people, in print and on the air, responded to criticism of Gov. Palin’s lack of foreign experience by pointing out that Clinton had no more when he was elected and that Obama had far less Executive experience than did Palin.

    Despite the facts being firmly on Palin’s side, it made absolutely no difference.

    “Man is not a rational animal, he’s a rationalizing animal” Robert Heinlein

    The strategy isn’t to compose a list of what each side might be ‘hiding’, it’s to introduce the premise that Romney is hiding something pertaining to his finances, that the very ‘fact’ of hiding ‘proves’ that he has something to fear and that if he didn’t come by his money honestly (with the underlying implication that he’s rich, so how could he?) then it proves he’s just another greedy, selfish Republican.

    Tying into the Wall Street Occupy meme that ALL Republicans are ‘tools of the rich’ or manipulators of those fools. Another wall street fat cat who have stolen American’s birthright through the evils that unregulated Capitalism allows…(gag)

    So, Romney’s a slightly ‘creepy’ guy, too clean cut, too Ozzie and Harriet perfect…

    They’re trying to introduce this meme into the public consciousness, while the average person doesn’t really know much about Romney. They’re trying to engender a feeling of vague uncomfortableness and associate that feeling with Romney.

    Once that memes established, they’ll back away from it and if Romney finally responds that Obama’s the one hiding things, Obama will claim that Romney is trying to divert the debate from how Congressional Republicans are obstructing Obama, who was elected by the people to lead a change for the better.

    Romney needs to be prepared so thoroughly that when Obama attacks, Romney automatically counter attacks, by seizing the opening Obama has created with his attack.

    Pat’s right, when Obama claims Romney is hiding his tax returns, it creates the opening for Romney to deflate that trial balloon by agreeing to release his returns, conditional upon Obama releasing what he’s been hiding.

    The way to do that is have someone like Gingrich, who excels at rebuttal, to tutor and grill Romney until it’s second nature for Romney because if Romney’s as awkward and stiff as McCain was, Obama’s going to control the narrative and win.

  18. gcotharn Says:

    I’ve never understood why candidates are bound to release tax returns. I would like to see Romney give everyone the finger, and refuse to release his return, and maybe give it a Chris Christie style: “None of your business.” If Romney is now giving the metaphorical finger re refusing to release his return, then I am cheering him on. Gumption. A good thing.

  19. Curtis Says:

    I’m with gothcorn. When did it become okay to demand anyone’s personal financial information? It’s outrageous. I’ve worked on lawsuits for payment of wages here in California, and you can’t ask the employer, even if it’s a corporation, for its balance and income statements. Now a corporation provides the privilege of protection from personal liability and plenty of people rely on that to “judgment proof” their violations. It’s a give and take and California is the worst for “empowering” disgruntled employees and dishonestl business persons (ahhh, the sweet smell of corruption) but the point is how the law views the disclosure of financial information.

    Romney needs to endorse the further services of Trump to revisit the birther issue and the fraudulent “long form” birth certificate. I like the view of Hillsdale College President, Larry Arnn, that the POTUS is a teacher. This is a teachable moment. Romney should develop and publish a very good explanation about privacy of financial information. If privacy provides the right for late term abortions, which Obama vigorously defended, then surely privacy protects an individual from disclosing his financial information.

    Then Romney should release his birth certificate and explain that fraudulent records disqualify any candidate for any public office.

  20. Curtis Says:


    Polls. Good for wiping your . . . kitchen floor. But, we’ve got the economy and Romney. They have Romney and Obama.

  21. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    >> Why would Obama, who lives in a glass house, want to throw this particular boulder?

    Because he can count on the media to go “Pay NO attention to that man behind the curtain!” and keep screaming it for as long and as loudly as it takes.

    And if that doesn’t work, they can always rely on:

    “HEY, LOOK!! The Zimmerman trial starts today!!”

    “The prosecution begins calling its witnesses today.”

    “Ahminajad spoke today on the war crimes of Israel.”

    “Kim Jong-un announced the successful firing of a Tapodong missile off of the Korean coast…”

    … and so forth.

    It’s not just the content of the headlines that show bias in a glaringly obvious light — it’s the chosen subjects, as well.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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