The entire Republican Party currently is flopping about in apoplexy over Harry Reid’s claim that someone told him Mitt Romney hadn’t paid federal income taxes for ten years. Why, they have even taken to calling Harry Reid a liar! Imagine!
According to Charles Mahtesian at Politico, it is extraordinary for one party to accuse the other of lying. I mean, really using the “L” word.
The Sunday news shows featured a rare spectacle that at once revealed the decline of civility in Washington and the depth of GOP outrage over Harry Reidâ€™s unproven claim that Mitt Romney didnâ€™t pay income taxes for an entire decade: two of the nationâ€™s top GOP officials flat out called the Senate majority leader a liar.
Thatâ€™s no ordinary criticism in official Washington.
There are plenty of other ways that pols use to call out their partisan rivals on their statements. Reidâ€™s GOP counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for one, has already said Reidâ€™s charge is â€œbeneath the dignityâ€ of his office.
But the actual term â€˜liarâ€™ crosses a line thatâ€™s seldom breached, signaling a widespread GOP belief that, even by the diminished standards of contemporary political debate, Reid has violated a code.
Hmm. Well, seems to me I have heard this before. For example, I remember Al Gore repeatedly referred to as a “serial liar” during the 2008, and that was for saying stuff that he never actually said, or if he did say it was actually true, if you looked it up. But let’s go on.
Reid wasnâ€™t fazed. His spokesman Adam Jentleson responded in the afternoon by vouching for the credibility of the source and inviting Romney to disprove the claim by releasing a series of tax returns. Calling him the â€œmost secretive candidate since Richard Nixon,â€ Jentleson told TPM: â€œItâ€™s clear Mitt Romney is hiding something, and the only way for him to clear this up is to be straight with the American people and release his tax returns.â€
The allegation irritated the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board, which called it â€œa smear from the fever swamps that say more about Mr. Reidâ€™s ethics than they do about Mr. Romneyâ€™s taxes.â€ But Reid isnâ€™t on the ballot this year; Romney is. And as the Journal argued, â€œMr. Romneyâ€™s problem is that he can only disprove the charge by releasing his tax returns.â€
Reid isn’t up for re-election until 2016, and who knows if he’s going to run again, anyway? So what can the GOP do to him? And there’s a chance someone did tell him that Romney didn’t pay federal taxes for ten years.
Unlike Reid’s unsupported and unverifiable claim, Mittens tells verifiable lies as fast as he can move his lips. So can I hear some Democratic spokespeople use the “L” word, now? Anybody? How about the recent howler that the Obama campaign is trying to restrict the military vote in Ohio?