Writing for Commentary‘s “Contentions” blog, Jonathan S. Tobin urges Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign to go ahead and release more tax returns, as demanded by left-of-center critics.

The Romney campaign has been operating fairly smoothly since the primaries ended with only occasional hiccups such as his zigzags about whether ObamaCare was a tax. But by digging in their heels on this point, they are showing they are not as light on their feet as they should be. The tax return story may be a deliberate attempt by the left to distract the country from a bad economy, but it is also about transparency, something every presidential candidate must demonstrate in this day and age. Like it or not, a presidential candidate must reveal all of his financial data or doom himself to be the focus of conspiracy theories. If Romney wants to counter the Obama campaign’s vicious attacks on his record, he needs to show that he has nothing to hide. Once he does that, he can return to making substantive points about the president’s philosophical commitment to big government and against economic freedom. In refusing to give in to political fashion, he is not merely making a tactical blunder. Doing so also lends credence to the Democratic narrative seeking to portray him as a heartless plutocrat.

Romney is very wealthy, and his returns from previous years probably contain information about all sorts of investments that will be mined by Democratic opposition researchers and their counterparts in the mainstream liberal press for items that will embarrass him. That won’t be pleasant. but it’s doubtful there is anything in there that would change many minds about the election. Some (conservatives) will admire him for his wealth and others (liberals) will despise him for it. Most will not care one way or the other. But by stalling, he gives Democrats a stick with which to beat him and feeds the faux controversies about his leaving Bain Capital and outsourcing.