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Romney son serves Dad, America with birther joke

Comedian Matt Romney is second from the far right.
Comedian Matt Romney is second from the far right.

When I clicked on the headline "Mitt Romney's Sons Meet Concord Seniors," I wasn't expecting one of those sons to go Trump-ing for a laugh, especially since the joke's fodder is so routine: the release of a presidential candidate's tax returns.

By law, they don't have to release them -- but it has become standard practice for candidates to do so, and there isn't usually much hubbub over it. But yesterday, candidate Romney said this:

"I can tell you we follow the tax laws, and if there's an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity. But we don't have any current plans to release tax returns, but never say never.""We've released, of course, all of the information required by law, which is a pretty extensive release," he said. "But down the road we'll see what happens if I'm the nominee."

The Tax History Project has a collection of returns filed by many presidential and vice-presidential candidates, dating back to that avatar of transparency, Richard Nixon, and including many filed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Obama's available tax returns date back to well before he took office. Missing from the list is 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, but he also released his full return (and part of those filed by his heiress wife).

So how are the Sons of Romney to respond when seniors in Concord, New Hampshire ask about this self-generated issue? Deflect it with a birther joke! Take it away, Matt Romney!

"I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and his birth certificate... then maybe he'd do it."

Matt's brother Tagg quickly noted that the "someone" making that suggestion wasn't their dad (despite Governor Romney's penchant for other-izing President Obama with abandon). Considering that Dad once said campaigning for him is how his sons serve America, you'd think they'd be better at it by now.

I mean, let's review the standard Matt entertains. First, a president releasing his college grades as a standard of presidential qualification traces back to Donald Trump in an effort to make Barack Obama look like an affirmative-action case. Second, birtherism was crazy and racist before the president released his long-form certificate in April. To joke about it publicly now, as a presidential surrogate, is -- to be kind -- not a good look.

UPDATE, 1:28 PM: The first and so far only tweet from the account @Matt_Romney reads, "I repeated a dumb joke. My bad."

(Video on the Concord, New Hampshire, Patch)