Home > Corruption, Election 2012 > Is Reid Out of Line? And Are We Tolerating It?

Is Reid Out of Line? And Are We Tolerating It?

August 3rd, 2012

It’s been a subject of discussion. Jon Stewart tore him a new one (whilst properly pointing out that Fox News, which also castigated Reid, does the exact same thing on a regular basis). Andrew Sullivan is asking whether or not we let our own guys cheat. That’s a meaningful question, actually; after all, we see conservatives allow blatant lying go on all the time. If we accept Reid’s behavior on this, what’s the difference?

I think there is a difference, and a significant one: few if any on the left believe Reid, or pretend to believe Reid, or are spreading Reid’s claim. That’s a huge difference with what would be happening were the same charge to come from the other direction. If this thing were done on the opposite side of the aisle, half of the conservative community would believe it and most everybody would be spreading it as if it were legit. Now, as it happens on the left, everybody is recoiling from it–while at the same time noting that Reid is playing dirty on a legitimate topic.

Few on the left approve of Reid, but everybody takes note that if Romney is not going to release his tax returns, the topic is open for exactly this kind of shenanigan.

But what of the issue itself? What of claimed similarities to birthers and demands for a long-form birth certificate?

Clearly not equivalent: tax returns are a normal disclosure, have been for three decades, and there are excellent reasons for demanding them; quite frankly, I would approve of a law requiring all federal political candidates releasing at least eight years of tax returns as well as their criminal records beyond the age of 18. These are extremely relevant to the employment of an individual to an office from which they could literally destroy the entire world. Birth certificates, on the other hand, are not the same thing, more of a technicality than an assurance, and candidate Obama not only provided his basic certificate but also was confirmed officially by the state, and had substantiating documentation in the form of news reports and eyewitness accounts. Not to mention, as we witnessed, releasing the long-form certificates did not go very far in assuaging the doubters in any case. There could have been Super-8 footage of the live birth, then a seamless walk to a window clearly showing the Hawaiian landscape, and still the birthers would not have been satisfied, claiming the whole thing was faked on a soundstage where they filmed the moon landings. College records are also not in the same league; they don’t show much more than scholarship skills, and frankly, right-wingers don’t honestly want that to be an issue.

Meanwhile, the precedent for tax releases is fairly well-established. Since 1980, only Reagan released just one year of returns, and it was relatively new then. Since then, all candidates except for McCain (who grudgingly let go of only 2) released at least 5 years of returns. Even Kerry, married into wealth, released 20 years; Bob Dole released 30. Obama released 7 in 2008 (now he’s up to 12), Gore 8. Even Dubya released 9.

Romney is even more relevant in these concerns than anyone else, considering (1) the fact that everyone, including Romney himself, has made great hay about his personal finances and how relevant they are to the campaign; and (2) that personal taxation and the fairness of the tax system are more an issue in this campaign than in any other before.

In fact, it’s not just Romney–recently, most Republican candidates have been stingy about letting us know about their personal finances. While Obama now has 12 years of records available and Biden 14, Romney and Gingrich both released only 1 year, Santorum 4, and McCain and Palin each 2 years. The actual records are online here.

Does this make Reid’s comment fair, or at least acceptable politics? Nope. In fact, I am pretty sure that most liberals want Reid to shut the hell up, as this is exactly the kind of bullcrap that Romney can use to paint himself as the victim, thus excusing himself from having to do anything–like Bush 43 got out of the National Guard AWOL morass because Dan Rather bought into a false document.

In fact, I think the one person who wants Reid to double down and keep talking more than anyone else is Romney himself.

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  1. Troy
    August 3rd, 2012 at 12:05 | #1

    Reid saying Romney didn’t pay any taxes doesn’t offend my sensibilities.

    You’re talking about a guy with $100M+ in an IRA, literally swiss bank accounts, investment positions in caribbean banking centers, so of course his financial life has been engineered no more than 2 points off of tax-evasion, if that.

    The height of ironies is that the national version of RomneyCare passed as PPACA is all that is keeping me in the US now*. If that goes thanks to Romney taking over in 2013 then ‘screw you guys, I am out of here’ (to paraphrase Cartman slightly).

    Wonder how hard it is to get a job again in Tokyo. Shoulda kept with the Mandarin studies, I was doing that since I thought they’d be relevant for a 2nd life in Japan, oddly enough.

    * Well, that and In N Out, Chipotle, Trader Joes, Taco Bell, Five Guys, Chick Fil A. Food isn’t enough to really keep me here I guess, LOL, but I remember how rapturous it was to get back to it after months/years away, sigh.

  2. stevetv
    August 7th, 2012 at 12:59 | #2

    There’s one other difference between this issue and the birther issue. If Reid is saying these things without any evidence to back it up, then he’s being deliberately deceitful. But the birthers truly believe their xenophobic conspiracy theory. In each case, it doesn’t speak well for either one of them.

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