Peggy Noonan: Mitt Romney's tax returns and Bill Clinton's old underwear
The reason Mitt Romney isn't releasing more tax returns can be reduced to three words: Bill Clinton's underwear. When he first ran for president, Bill Clinton put out his tax returns. Lisa Schiffren, an enterprising young writer for The American Spectator, went through them and found that the Clintons, when they were in Little Rock, had gone to great lengths to limit their tax bills, to the point of itemizing each contribution to local charities, including Mr. Clinton's old underwear. Hilarity ensued. This is the kind of thing everyone in national politics fears.
But the question remains. Mr. Romney has known at least since 2007 that he would be running for president. He never in that time made sure his taxes from that date would pass rigorous public examination? This is odd, especially since he's supposed to be so methodical, tidy, organized and prudent. The political answer to the question "Should Romney reveal more tax returns?" is, "That depends on what's in them." But the nonpolitical answer is yes, he should.
The failure of communication here involves failing to arm proactively against the problem, and reacting flat-footedly when it arrived.