Candidates who seek the highest office in the land should practice full disclosure. That's why I called on President Obama to release the long form of his Hawaiian birth certificate as early as 2009. Not that I had any doubt of where he was born, but because I thought the American people had the right to know all the facts. There was too much confusion among voters, and the solution seemed easy enough. When President Obama finally did release the original long form of his Hawaii birth certificate in 2011, I wrote that he should have done so earlier. Liberals excoriated me as racist; conservatives called me courageous. But I was just being honest.
Now the shoe's on the other foot. Governor Mitt Romney, who jokes about birthers but swears he isn't one, refuses to release certain years of his income tax returns. Wait a minute -- isn't he running as a smart businessman who can rescue the economy? What major corporation would execute a proposed merger without due diligence on the other company's books? Aren't the American voters entitled to similar information about a candidate who makes business acumen his chief qualification? After all, Mr. Romney is applying to be CEO of the world's most powerful economy. Whether he was still on the payroll of Bain Capital when he says he wasn't is germane to the election.
Moreover, the Romneys' attitude that they have shown "you people" all the tax forms they are going to betrays a certain aristocratic attitude that is far too common among corporate executives. Indeed, being CEO of a major corporation is the closest thing to a title of nobility that America has. (The Constitution expressly forbids them.) Where else can you get a private jet and a golden parachute paid for by a company whose "workers" (read: serfs) are paid on average 380 times less than you? In comparison, King John had a lot more trouble from his pesky Barons at Runnymede.
To this sector of the corporate world, like Goldman Sachs, seeking political office is a form of "noblesse oblige" that comes with the territory. That you also are in a position to feather your own nest is a happy coincidence of being a "job creator." But was Mitt a true job creator at Bain? That's another legitimate question for the common people -- er, voters. But you can't answer it fairly without confirming his years at Bain, and you need tax forms to do that.
Show us your long forms, Mitt! That is, if you truly intend to be a president and not a king.