Swift Boating

If there’s one irrevocable law in politics, it’s that whatever works will be done and re-done until it fails completely.  The stakes for a Presidential include the most powerful office in the world and total expenditures of $10B.  No one is going to run a campaign based on wild new ideas unless they absolutely have to.

So it should come as no surprise that 2012 is turning into a mirror of 2004.  The only thing that seems wrong with it is that the challenger’s side didn’t anticipate and devise an effective counter to this year’s equivalent of a “Swift Boating” – changing what should be your opponent’s greatest strength into their biggest liability.

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Taxing Returns

Why hasn’t Mitt Romney released more than one year of tax returns? “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,” said conservative columnist George Will, on ABC’s “This Week.” “Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”  Will has a reputation for being particularly honest when his side is screwing up, but he’s far from alone in his assessment.  It’s far more damning when Bill Kristol weighs in – “He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It’s crazy,” Kristol said on “Fox News Sunday.” “You gotta release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two.”

Why are the conservative pundits hitting this so hard?  What’s at stake here is not just Romney’s candidacy or even the whole Republican ticket that wants to keep the US House.  There is a core myth that has driven Republican rhetoric for decades based on a concept of “fairness” that could come crashing down if this plays out badly – and the pundits know it.

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