President Obama didn’t have to do it.
He didn’t have to release his long-form birth certificate. He could have just ignored the head-hurting ridiculousness from people who, despite all evidence and common sense, persisted in believing that he was a non-citizen; an illegitimate trickster who had pulled off what would be the greatest scam in U.S. history.
But he did.
He did it to end the distraction; one that was being exploited by hucksters like Donald Trump and one that Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues to milk to draw the admiration of racists who like myths instead of truth.
Obama did it, even though there’s no real tradition of presidents publicizing their birth certificates. There is, however, a tradition of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns.
Numerous tax returns.
So you’d think that by now, the wingnuts who insisted, and who continue to insist at every turn that Obama prove his American-ness by showing them various “papers,” ranging from the birth certificate to his college transcripts, would be calling for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release more than one year and an estimate of his tax returns.
But they aren’t.
And their silence speaks to the double-standards they have when it comes to forcing a white man like Romney to adhere to expectations of transparency and accountability, versus a black man like Obama.
It also contradicts much of what the birthers and their ideological counterparts, the Tea Partiers, are supposed to be about.
The tea partiers, for example, define much of their American-ness by bragging about being a taxpayer – although from the looks of many of them at rallies perched on their Medicaid-funded scooters, I doubt they pay more taxes to the government than the services that they use.
Nonetheless, the Tea Party formed out of opposition to Obama and fears of whether the nation’s first black president might misuse their tax money.
So you’d think that they’d be joining the chorus of Democrats and other, more reasonable Republicans demanding to see more of Romney’s tax returns.
And that’s important.
Tax returns reveal how a candidate manages his finances. They hint at where a candidate’s priorities lie. They reveal whether a candidate has more faith in foreign governments than the one he wants to lead, and other clues about his fitness to be president.
So why don’t the Tea Partiers, for all their talk about being real Americans and all their fears about whether the black president is going to mess up the nation’s finances worse than his white predecessor, want to know more about how Romney handles his money?
If they’re such red-blooded Americans, then why doesn’t Romney’s refusal to adhere to an American presidential tradition, i.e., the releasing of his tax returns, anger them?
Why doesn’t his secrecy bother them?
And why aren’t the birthers, people who were, and some of who still do, persist in believing that Obama was born in Kenya or holds Indonesian citizenship, questioning whether Romney is more loyal to Switzerland or to the Cayman Islands than the U.S.?
That’s where he stashes a lot of his money.
So why aren’t they worried whether Romney may be using his money to enrich foreign governments instead of his own?
The birthers and the Tea Partiers aren’t questioning Romney about his taxes and his loyalty because they’ve never truly cared about these issues to begin with. They only rallied around them because they conjure the greatest fears about black people that many, though certainly not all, white people may hold; that black people are too inept to manage anything, and if they manage to accomplish a major feat, such as being elected President of the United States, it’s because of trickery and not competency.
So they hounded Obama until he released his long-form birth certificate, yet they don’t care what Romney may be hiding in his tax returns because they’re giving him the benefit of the doubt that they tend to give to white guys.
They’ll vote for Romney because he’s not Obama. Because he’s not black.
And to them, that’s all that’s ever really mattered.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her on Twitter @tonyaajw.