Francis Bator taught me many valuable things in grad school, along with one priceless principle: the two-soprano rule.
As the judge in a singing contest,
never award the prize to the second soprano
having heard only the first.
Patrick AppelÂ thinks Romney’s continued concealment of his tax returns is “a sign of stupidity.” Of course that’s possible, but Romney is by no means a stupid man in any ordinary sense of that term; one of his B-school classmates described him to me (privately, and without any affection for Romney) as “the smartest guy in the class.” Harvard B-School in 1970 wasn’t exactly the Institute for Advanced Study, but I’d be stunned if Romney had a measured IQ much below
Yes, not releasing the tax returns has exposed Romney to endless heckling, and will continue to do so through November. (And Romney hasn’t helped himself by keeping the issue alive; if he’s standing mute, he should stand mute.)
But it would be reckless to jump to the conclusion that Romney is making a stupid mistake. The alternative possibility is that Romney and his handlers took a look at what was actually on the tax returns, pondered the natural follow-up questions, and decided that it was better for Romney to remain silent and be thought a scoundrel than to open his mouth and remove all doubt.