Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amateur Psychology Hour

Mitt Romney is still being forced to talk about his taxes which, just as an aside, is really not what he wants to be doing and he'd be better off if he would ... JUST RELEASE HIS TAX RETURNS!!!

But whatever. I'm tired of railing on that one. What's new is that Romney is taking a new (also stupid) path by conflating taxes and charity. He's wanting to point out that, when you put this tax payments and his charitable donations together, he actually pays quite a bit more than the 13.9 percent he paid in 2010. How many things are wrong with this business? Let's count:

1) Romney's new strategy (to conflate taxes and charity) still has him talking about tax returns. He might as well discuss animal transport. That's about as good a topic for him.

2) The further he goes into this topic, the more times he ends up pointing out that he paid just 13.9% in taxes in 2010. That number just keeps coming up like a bad penny.

3) This brings me to my main point. Romney is now planning to release his 2011 taxes on October 15 (terrible idea, but okay). He was asked what his effective tax rate was in 2011 and his response?
I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that.
Oy vey. "Or something like that?" I'm not a psychologist but it seems to me that Mitt's got a tell. If you're trying to pretend your just guesstimating, you probably don't want to give a number that includes tenths of a percentage point. That's not an estimate. That's a pretty freakin' precise number.

To put this another way, you could have said: "It is 13.6%." Or you could have said, "It 13 or 14 percent, something like that." But you can't put those two options together. It is like the police are asking a suspect, "So what time did you leave the bar?" and the suspect responds, "A few seconds past 4:03 or something like that." That is a suspect who is hiding something.

I'm perfectly happy letting Mitt twist in the wind on this all through the Fall but, if I were advising him, I'd be saying, "Mitt, just release the taxes already. Release them all. It is still August. Nobody's paying attention. Your convention will drown out the story soon enough even if it is bad. Just get it over with."

... Or something like that.

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