Romney released his latest tax returns over the weekend. The picture that emerged is that Romney is extraordinarily charitable:
So, to recap: Mitt Romney has, in the past two years, paid almost $5 million in taxes while giving away $7 million. And, as he said, he has paid the taxes he was supposed to pay according to the laws of the United States, which is all that is required — legally, morally and practically — of anyone.
If you’ve been reading my columns for the past couple of years, you know I’m perfectly capable of being critical of Romney. I did so the other day, and radio host Mark Levin called me a “trash-mouther” who was “giving aid and comfort to Obama.”
But the release of these tax records leaves no doubt about one thing: Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily, remarkably, astonishingly generous man. A good man. Maybe even a great man.
Mr. Obama and wife Michelle gave $172,130, or roughly 21.8% of their income, to charity in 2011, and about 14.2% in 2010. That was up from 5.9% in 2009. The Obamas gave between 4.7% and 6.5% of their income to charity between 2005 and 2008. The Obamas’ income shrank in 2011, to about $790,000, compared to earlier years, helping to boost their percentage.
You can draw your own conclusions about the causation of the percentage changes for the Obama’s, but those dates…
Charity gives insight to character. The more charitable one is with their money, the more charitable one is likely to be with their service, including service in the highest office in the land. Some people seek the presidency because of what it says about them personally, others seek it because they choose to work towards making the nation a better place. Of course, no one is at either of those extremes totally, but I’ll let you figure out where the two current candidates sit relative to each other one that spectrum.
Character also matters because our nation runs on truth, it cannot function on lies. While con men and scofflaws lie purposely to deceive and profit at the expense of others, most people lie, and we all do sometimes, to escape culpability or to avoid some terribly unflattering self-realization. Often these two reasons are basically the same. But even this less purposeful motivation is not charitable. Others end up receiving the blame, or they end up suffering our lesser developed personalities that would greatly benefit from a bit of self-realization. And sometimes the nation suffers – consider this piece from Mark Steyn:
On the latter point, after a week and a half of peddling an utterly false narrative of what happened in Libya, the United States government is apparently beginning to discern that there are limits to what even Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice can say with a straight face. The official line — that the slaughter of American officials was some sort of improvised movie review that got a little out of hand — is now in the process of modification to something bearing a less patently absurd relationship to what actually happened. That should not make any more forgivable the grotesque damage that the administration has done to the bedrock principle of civilized society: freedom of speech.
Steyn then goes on, as only Steyn can, to outline in many ways how this administration has severely damaged the First Amendment, and they are numerous.
Character matters. One other illustration, consider the cases on Ralph Reed and Bryan Fischer. Reed, former leader of the Christian Coalition, is enjoying a political revival, largely on Mitt Romney’s coattails, as the NYT piece linked describes. Fischer, on the other hand, has been one of the most consistent anti-Mormon jerks on the road to this point. Fischer may very well be the reason Romney did not prevail in Iowa this cycle. With as few votes as split Romney and Santorum, a radio guy really could make the difference. Sure, this latest piece just linked by Fischer attempts to carve out space to vote for Romney for his rabid anti-Mormon followers (and himself no doubt) but it is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Which brings me to an AP piece headlined:
Amid GOP unease, Romney turns eye to swing states
I was starting to dismiss that as another MSM attempt to rob the Romney campaign of momentum, but then something clicked. Is there lingering “unease” from the primary? Is Fischer’s “hold your nose and vote” approach more widely spread than I thought and could that be the reason Romney has not blown this thing wide open already? Maybe it is not all about religion – there was also the whole “not conservative enough” thing which was religion code for some, but was also just concern in others.
Which brings me back to charity. Would it be charitable? – Would it be of good character to allow four more years of Obama and his damage to our nation’s standing and our constitution? I don’t think so!
It is time to put away your personal concerns, your worries about RINO, theology, or whatever else may be sitting in the back of your mind causing you to hesitate. If you are indeed a charitable person, and I believe most of us are, then we simply cannot afford four more years of this. Your hesitation is what fuels the MSM attempts to establish the narrative that Romney’s support is weak. Momentum matters headed into this final month. Hesitating now, giving fuel to that false MSM fire is an uncharitable act, for it serves to aid the uncharitable.
No one contends that Mitt Romney will lead the nation to perfection – but he will assuredly point us in the right direction – something Obama is NOT doing. That is, in the current circumstance, cause for enthusiasm, not prevarication. It is simply a matter of service and charity.
POSTSCRIPT (a couple of hours after initial publication)
The misunderstandings of those not of faith, regarding matters of faith is astonishing. MSNBC published this morning on the “economics of pilgrimage.“ First heard about this when I read “Canterbury Tales” in high school. I have since been to Canterbury, not to mention many other places of religious pilgrimage, most notable, Jerusalem. Though I would never claim to have been on a pilgrimage myself. (Though I will say the experience in Jerusalem was extraordinary on so many levels.) Such mass movements of people will of necessity have an economic impact, but that does not mean they are economically motivated.
Then there were two articles challenging the generosity of Mitt Romney as we described above. Both have the same essential argument – Romney is not THAT generous because after all, the tithe is not progressive. One was by Ben Adler at The Nation, and the other by Conor Freidersdorf at The Atlantic.
Before I dive into this too much, I want to note that Freidersdorf has hit the map this cycle by using a relatively large platform, The Atlantic, to attack big name right wing pundits, in this case Jon Podhoretz, essentially forcing them to respond to him which results in Freidersdrof garnering far more traffic than his writing actually merits. His approach seems to be to parasitically suck life blood from the right wing punditry. Frankly, that’s what second and third level bloggers do, not professional journalists. But that is an aside.
What is amazing to me about all three of these pieces are that they measure an essentially spiritual exercise in economic terms. Charity is about giving, not about the benefit to the recipient of the gift. The Freiderdorf piece comes dangerously close to paralleling Christ’s “parable of the widow’s mite” (Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4) but as is typical for most such scriptural allusion, he fails to take into account the context of the parable. I do not want to bog down in hermeneutics here – but one cannot fully understand the parable while reading only four verses – something Freidersdorf has clearly done.
The point of all this is to say that the left clearly misunderstands the religious impulse and the behavior it generates in those that follow it. They seemingly have no understanding of the submission of worship or the sacrifice of charity and the character that results from such – they seem concerned only with the flow of dollars, what those dollars can buy them or the ones they have decided are worthy. There is something remarkably sad about measuring the charity and devotion of others in such crass terms. I cannot bring myself to excoriate them as they clearly deserve politically. I can only pray for them as such articles demonstrate something much deeper than politics.