The mainstream news media can't stop obsessing over Mitt Romney's tax returns. "Will he or won't he release them?" they keep asking. What terrible secrets are hidden among Romney's mortgage interest deductions and depreciation write-offs? Whatever it is, it probably spells doom for America, and that's why the media can't stop talking about it, right?
You wouldn't know it from all the media hype surrounding those precious 1040s, but Romney already has released his 2010 returns, and promises to release his 2011 returns as soon as they are complete.
All of the hullabaloo is over Romney's older returns, which undoubtedly show what we all already know: That the guy has made tons of money and tried to pay as little tax as possible. In other words, he's done what just about every businessman tries to do. Only he's been successful.
The Democrats, of course, would use this information to portray Romney as an out-of-touch, over-privileged, tax-cheat.
The reason Democrats can't stop talking about Romney's tax returns is because, if they did, then they would have to start talking about America's floundering economy and President Barack Obama's catastrophic record. And for the left-wing media establishment, which is in no hurry to report news that reflects poorly on the president, it's much easier to distract people by creating a pointless fake controversy.
Imagine what it would be like if the media turned its obsessive attention over to Obama for a change.
This week, a former classmate of Obama's at Columbia University did just that. Wayne Allen Root, a former libertarian vice presidential candidate and a fellow member of Columbia's class of '83, asked a very good question in an article this week: If the media is going to put pressure on Romney to release his tax returns, then why won't they put pressure on Obama to release his college transcripts?
Obama refuses to release his academic records. Presumably that's because they don't reflect so well on the president. "My bet is that Obama will never unseal his records because they contain information that could destroy his chances for re-election," Root writes.
Root speculates that, for one thing, Obama's grades probably stunk. More intriguingly, he speculates that Obama (who in his early years went by the name Barry Soetoro) might have gained admission to Columbia by applying as a foreign exchange student.
Although Obama was born in Hawaii, he spent much of his childhood in Indonesia.
It's plausible that he could have claimed Indonesian nationality in order to gain an edge in admissions or special scholarship status as a foreign exchange student -- even though that would have been against the rules for him since he was an American citizen -- so went Root's speculation. If it turned out that Obama had fraudulently claimed to be a foreigner years ago, it would do nothing to quiet the birther conspiracy theorists, and it just might create a scandal big enough to cost Obama the election.
Root, of course, has no proof to back up his suspicions about the national status Obama claimed on his Columbia application. But his greater point -- that Obama is refusing to release his college transcripts because they probably contain some kind of damaging information -- is a valid one.
Maybe Obama was a major slacker in school, and he's just too embarrassed to show us how bad his grades were. It seems to me that the president's intelligence and diligence, as reflected in his academic records, are at least as important as his rival's financial history.
Whatever the president's reasons are for hiding his records, the fact that the left-wing media is placing almost zero pressure on Obama to release them, while talking about Romney's old tax records week after week, shows just how little objectivity they have in covering this race.
Nathan Harden is editor of the College Fix. His latest book is "Sex & God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad" Follow him on Twitter @nathanharden