Looking for all the world like the Queen-of-America-in-waiting, Lady Ann Lois Davies Romney finally put to rest any notion that she and her husband, Lord Willard Mitt Romney, would deign to allow us commoners to go rummaging around into their personal finances. How apropos that her pronouncement, decree and declaration was made in the heart of one of the oldest monarchies on earth, Merry Old England.
For his part, Lord Romney directly confronted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s recent assertions that he, Lord Romney, has not paid his fair share of taxes for at least 10 years. On the contrary, Lord Romney vigorously argued that his federal tax rate has never been below 13% for each of the last 10 years. He knows because he took a look at his tax returns recently. And as a sweetner, he allowed that, “And, if you add, in addition, (that's three "additions," mind you) the amount that goes to charity,” Lord Romney almost gleefully told reporters, “why the number gets well above 20%.”
Meanwhile, Lady Romney became visibly upset at being questioned about this whole tawdry tax business during an NBC interview at the Olympics in Wales, her ancestral home. She may also have been upset because her prized thoroughbred (also of royal vintage), Rafalca, competed for the U.S. Equestrian team in dressage, but failed to win any medals.
That testy taxes tete-ta-tete is part of a larger interview scheduled to air tonight on something called “Rock Center With Brian Williams” at 10 p.m. PDT.
The setting for Lady Romney’s finger-pointing (wagging?) unrest was an out-of-the-way little pub in Llangynwd in southern Wales. That’s coal country in the U.K. but no coal miners were spotted. The two women, one a mere lady, a commoner, in fact, when compared to the other, a real and royal Lady, shared a spot of tea in bone china cups.
Lady Romney’s blue blood began to simmer when Natalie Morales raised the pesky issue of the royal Romneys’ unreleased tax returns.
“I know it’s not a question that is welcomed, but must be asked,” Morales said. “Why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011?”
Lady Romney’s countenance took on a severe cast, her lips pursed, and her facial lines seemed accentuated. She seemed to struggle to contain something within.
“Have you seen how we’re attacked? Have you seen what’s happened?” she asked, incredulously. It was as though she was pleading for sympathy, empathy not being available to commoners like a lowly TV reporter who could never even imagine what it must be like to own $250 million .
Morales decided to try to get on Lady Romney’s good side by, in fact, offering a little sympathy: “Are you angry that it’s been in the press?” Had she left it there, Morales would have made a new friend for life. But, alas, she blew it: “I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?” That question was more than a tad risky, and it immediately drew Lady Romney’s ire.
“We have been transparent...to what’s legally required of us,” Lady Romney said, with just a slight but noticeable stutter. “But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questions, the more we get pushed. We have done what’s legally required, and there’s going to be no more tax releases given. And there’s a reason for that. And that’s because of … what happens as soon as we release anything. Mitt’s financial disclosures when he was governor were huge.”
Lord Romney himself is on record as declaring that politics ain’t “beanbag," and that politics is no place for “whiners.” Apparently, that declaration does not apply to political spouses.
Having calmed down somewhat, Lady Romney sought to ease the public’s mind about her and the Lord’s good hearts and intentions for all of the little people, everyone of us: “The other thing you have to understand is that Mitt is honest, his integrity is, is just golden. We pay our taxes.... Beyond paying our taxes, we also give 10% of our income to charity. So we have no issues that way, and the only reason we don’t disclose any more is, you know, we just become a bigger target.”
Seeking a confirmation of this “no new taxes” pledge, Morales went for brass ring: “So, it’s because you will just continue to face more questions?”
Exasperated, Lady Romney spoke as if she had cleared the matter up and was ready to move on to the next topic. “Well,” she repeated, leaning into and over the table now, still pointing. “It will just give them more ammunition.”
Finally, sounding a bit like those “intrepid” reporters of old, Morales appealed to and on behalf of the ultimate authority, the American people themselves.
“To the American people though, when they hear about perhaps accounts with your name on it overseas, and tax shelters, they feel like you may be hiding something.” There. She said it out loud and on TV. It was not even a real question. I was an accusation, a direct challenge to the authority, the legitimacy of the royal Romney regency.
Not quite outraged, but certainly peaked, Lady Romney, in a lowered tone of voice, dismissed as preposterous any suggestion of wrongdoing. “There’s nothing we’re hiding,” Lady Romney said. “We’ve had a blind trust for, how many years? We don’t even know what’s in there. We’ve had a blind trust since before Mitt was governor, you know, 2002 forward. And so you know, I’ll be curious to see what’s in there, too.”
And, as soon as she knows what’s in there, you can bet no one else will.
So...now that this matter has been -- finally -- cleared up, we must all just stop asking. Curtesy, bow, and say, "Yes, Mi' Lady...Thank you, Lady Romney, for talking with us today."
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