Mitt Romney should offer President Obama a deal: I’ll show you my tax returns, if you’ll show me your college records.

We don’t want anybody who is dishonest occupying the Oval Office, and it’s just as well that presidential candidates have made a tradition of releasing recent tax returns. But do we need Romney to release his tax returns back to his first lemonade stand?

It should be noted that Romney, like many citizens, asked for an extension this year. That was probably not politic. But it is not terribly meaningful.

However, in a piece on “Mitt Romney’s secrets,” the editorial board of the Washington Post notes:

The campaign insisted that Mr. Romney was delaying because some of the companies in which he had invested had yet to report their earnings. This explanation would be a lot more palatable if Mr. Romney had demonstrated any inclination to live up to the standards of most previous presidential candidates — including, most notably, his own father, George Romney, who released a dozen years of returns when he ran for president in 1968.

Mitt Romney turned over more than two decades of returns when he was vetted as a possible vice presidential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. A few presidential candidates, including Mr. McCain, have been this stingy with their tax records, but the information is particularly relevant in Mr. Romney’s case because of the size of his fortune and the low share of income he paid in taxes for the year that was released.

Without meaning to, the Post tipped its hand: the reason the Democrats so want the Romney tax returns is that, in a year in which their candidate has a less than stellar record, they’d like to make the race about something else. Anything else.

Imagine the meaningful issues the returns might raise: Did Romney pay a lower rate than Warren Buffett’s secretary? As long as Romney was honest and paid the legal rate, and let’s hope the IRS would have found out if it had been otherwise, this is irrelevant. In addition to this bogus issue, Romney’s wealth, displayed in black and white on the returns, is apparently something that the Obama campaigns hopes would inspire class envy.

(FYI: President Obama's tax rate for 2011 was 20 per cent. I do not begrudge the tax-free $48,000 the Obamas gave their daughters. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the MSM, which rightly hasn't made much of this, would be hot on the trail of similar contributions to the Romney sons.)

I hope Romney won’t release all his tax returns. It was good to have a look see at a few years. But this is a serious time and we don’t need the kind of distraction (to use a word the president likes) of Romney’s tax returns would afford. We have two men seeking to win the presidential election in November. Both have philosophies and records.

Something in me is curious about President Obama’s college records. My guess is that you would encounter a bright student who took only courses that introduced him to the politically correct ideas. I don’t think you’d meet a maverick. But we don’t need to see the president's college records. He has a record.

And, of course, it’s a good thing that we don’t need the president’s college transcript: you are not going to see the transcript or a Washington Post editorial headlined “Barack Obama’s secrets” anytime soon.