Harry Reid has doubled down on his claim that Mitt Romney has not paid any taxes in a decade. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Senate Majority Leader reported that someone who invested with Bain Capital told him, “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years.”
This is the third time Reid has repeated the claim and he continues to call on Romney to release his tax returns to refute the rumors. But Reid refuses to name the source who gave him the inside information about the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president.
As you probably know, Mitt Romney is running a scorched-earth campaign for president. Forced to compete with an extremely likable president and stuck with a brand and a set of policies many Americans despise, Mitt decided to run against a fictional version of President Obama that makes sense only to people for whom “news” is inextricable from “Fox.”
To distract from his resemblance to an offensive houseguest telling you how to improve your kitchen’s smell, Romney continually repeats debunked lies about the president. It’s a strategy familiar in political lore, including a famous story about Lyndon Johnson, who supposedly wanted to accuse his opponent of having sex with pigs. “Lyndon, you know he doesn’t do that!” his campaign manager objected. Johnson replied, “Then let the son of a bitch deny it!”
While constantly casting aspersions unworthy of refutation, Mitt refuses to disclose basic information that candidates from both parties have long accepted as standard requirements for anyone applying to become Leader of the Free World. But this week Mitt invented a new qualification for the job: He’s never overpaid his taxes. He told ABC News’ David Muir: “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.” But of course, we can’t judge whether he is qualified according to his own new standard, because Mitt still won’t release his tax returns.
So how can America force Mitt Romney to be specific — to produce actual evidence that he’s qualified to be president?
Unfortunately Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has adopted the repellent tactic that worked so well for the birthers.
This is exactly the kind of unsubstantiated hearsay that eventually forced the president to produce his long-form birth certificate (which the craziest birthers still don’t accept). So why not give Reid’s tactic a chance? After all, there’s a simple way for Mitt to refute it.
John Fugelsang has joked that we should call Mitt Romney’s tax returns his “worth certificate” — which would make Harry Reid the chief “worther.”
But this kind of “So when did you stop beating your wife?” politics favors the shameless. And Romney has already proven himself shameless. This sort of politics of hearsay is what’s behind Michele Bachmann’s Muslim witch hunt and all witch hunts of the past.
Harry Reid should elevate himself above the level of Mitt Romney and the loony right. Instead, all of America should ask Romney to prove that he’s qualified to be president, even based on the strange standard that Mitt set for himself.
Copyright 2012 The National Memo