By most accounts, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a devoted father, dedicated family man and committed church leader. But as his record sadly shows, Romney's family values often take a back seat to his presidential ambitions. Just last week, he cast aside his father George Romney, the man whose rags-to-riches success story Mitt uses as a proxy for his own, all in the name of keeping his mysterious tax returns secret. His wife Ann Romney, the woman who now heads his Women for Mitt Coalition and who her husband says "reports to me regularly" regarding what American women care about, has been hung out to dry over issues including Planned Parenthood, abortion and the family's personal finances. And as it turns out, Mitt's betrayals hardly end there.
In his interview with David Muir of ABC last week, Governor Romney trotted out a new defense of keeping his secret tax returns secret:
"From time to time I've been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due. I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."
Put another way, if you paid a penny more to Uncle Sam than you could've, you're not just a sucker; you should be disqualified from becoming President.
Just like Mitt's dad, George Romney.
Mitt's idol didn't merely establish a precedent by releasing 12 years of tax returns during his failed 1968 presidential campaign. As Paul Krugman recently reminded voters, the auto magnate and Michigan governor not only paid a lot to the U.S. Treasury, but probably much more than he needed to.
Those returns also reveal that he paid a lot of taxes -- 36 percent of his income in 1960, 37 percent over the whole period. This was in part because, as one report at the time put it, he "seldom took advantage of loopholes to escape his tax obligations."
(The contrasts between father and son hardly end there. As Rick Perlstein documented, George Romney didn't merely develop an innovative profit sharing plan for his employees at AMC and return bonuses if he thought them too high. He also believed that "rugged individualism" is "nothing but a political banner to cover up greed.")
But if Mitt Romney has turned his back on the legacy of his late father, he has similarly shown no compunction about tossing his wife Ann overboard when political circumstances dictated.