The more Americans mistrust politics, the news media, business and virtually every other major institution, the more demand there is for the documents, the proof, the evidence we need to get to the “real truth.”
But we never quite get there.
Does anyone believe that questions about Mitt Romney’s wealth and his ability to connect with middle-class voters would somehow be settled if he released a raft of tax returns in addition to his 2010 return, which showed taxes of $3 million paid on income of $21.6 million? Conversely, would those disclosures really damage the Republican presidential candidate more than the video of his car elevator, stories about his wife’s horses, or his awkward remarks about firing people and making $10,000 bets?
For many months, President Obama resisted releasing his birth certificate to prove that he was born in this country. When he finally did so last year, many Americans who had been skeptical of the president’s origins had their doubts allayed: In a Washington Post poll, the portion of Americans who said they believed that Obama was born in Hawaii jumped to 70 percent, compared with 48 percent in 2010. Among Republicans, the share who said Obama was not born in the United States fell from 31 percent in 2010 to 14 percent.