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Epitaph---not epithet, or even epaulet. The phrase, "Put up or Shut up" will most likely become the epitaph of Romney's campaign. For when you hurl an epithet at an enemy you play a game which can easily backfire.
"Put up or Shut up" is regrettable language for Romney because the flip side suggests the coalescing final attack, a pincer movement, which Obama will execute against Romney. Romney's best chance of winning the Presidential battle was to insure that the entire election be a referendum on Obama. In refusing to release his tax returns, Romney has opened himself to bombardments--- incessant questions and the immediate progeny of those questions---for example, what's the story on that adorable multimillion dollar IRA.? In effect, he is inviting new questions from the Obama team, as well as the press, without putting the old questions to bed.
So the questions about Romney are multiplying. And thus the phrase "Put up or shut up" can be a foundational line of attack on Romney himself. To the extent that he refuses to put up any real answers to the questions about his taxes and personal financial practices, he is incrementally destroying his own campaign.
So, put up or shut up. Or just put up. Or just shut up. I'm happy with any or all of these epithets.
My opinion is that Romney will not release any tax returns pre-2010 and the basis of my opinion will prove that I am an irascible old guy. Based on my own vast marriage experience, I can reveal that a woman will first and foremost gather her children unto herself. I can't tell you how many times I heard from my wife the phrase, "my kids"--- when I was standing right there. In fact, wives and mothers in law from some cultures, for example, Italian, will constantly render a man invisible within the entire family social structure. A mother in law who is sitting right next to you at dinner will ask your wife across the table, "Does your husband want another cannoli?" (don't blame me if that's not the correct singular of the word)
In any case I believe that Ann Romney is the final arbiter on the release of the tax returns, and the reason is her matriarchal instincts. I think Mitt made a deal with her and whether such a man did or didn't is nobody's business unless he's running for President and the tax returns would help explain who he is and inform his potential policy decisions. The world pretty well knows already that Romney will sell out any previous position in order to pander to the audience at hand. That's a public persona and is somewhat excused by the arena of politics itself.
In my opinion Romney's tax returns would show in graphic and very personal terms the compromised person he really is. How callous do you have to be to advocate giving yourself more tax breaks when you've already been able to compound your wealth by paying a tax rate grossly less than the average working person? And that's just for starters. What about the immunity from a possible felony? (o.k., that's slightly exaggerated).
If Romney releases the tax returns, they are as bad as common sense suggests, and then he loses the election---well, how would any of this not be a stigma on the family? Ann Romney raised her kids. And she put her own bottom line out there when she was forced to do so---"you people" already have all you're going to get.
I'm not saying that Ann Romney was wrong in drawing a line in the sand. Good for her. What I think is wrong is for Romney to have misled his own party. What I think is wrong is running a campaign which is steadfastly trying not to put it's cards on the table in hopes of skating to a win on the back of a weak economy. What is wrong is acquiescing to the stall tactics of the Congress, withholding actions which might have make peoples' lives easier---like the transportation bill which needlessly took a year to pass--- for the sole purpose of defeating the President.
So, Mr. Romney, I'm glad you introduced that phrase, "Put up or shut up." Because it applies to you much more than it does to anyone else in this election. And the phrase will most likely put the nails in the coffin of your own campaign.
And, Mr, Romney, it is really beneath me but I'll say it anyway because it rounds out my theme. Losing the campaign most likely means losing the only chance you and your family will ever have of earning an epaulet.