So, while Romney's taxes might seem like a trivial issue in the dog days of summer, this topic is real and will influence the election. Controversies without a resolution remain just that, a controversy. The media will continue to push for answers on Romney's taxes, and the Obama campaign (and their super PAC supporters) will make sure it remains a big part of the conversation. But, beyond the talking points and politics, Romney continues to send a loud message to voters -- he'll do what is politically expedient at the time, with little concern for transparency. As the economy remains the #1 issue on voter's minds, this election should be Romney's to lose -- and that makes it all the scarier to hypothesize what he is hiding.
In the spring of 2008, President Obama was facing the most difficult challenge of his campaign -- his association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright, the pastor at Obama's local church and the man who presided over his wedding to Michelle, was increasingly seen as a polarizing political figure. As part of an effort to diffuse the situation, he gave an historic speech at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia that served to distance himself from Wright, as well as elevate the conversation beyond political attack ads. Obama's approach was perfectly executed -- attack the allegations head on, and focus the conversation on another topic of greater importance.
Although different in substance, Romney faces a similar situation today. For Obama, there were questions about his views with regards to race and religion. Today, as Romney refuses to release more than two years of tax returns, he gives his opposition the opportunity to remind voters of some of his shortcomings. First, his "flip flopping" nature (is he hiding something or not?); and, second, the idea that he is rich, out of touch and just "not like me" (scores of bank accounts across Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and beyond isn't exactly common among the middle class).