I love the new, tough guy Harry Reid of late. I hope to see more of him and hope he is still majority leader after the elections.
But this post is about a brilliant tactical move by Reid. It might not seem that way right now, but if you step outside of the situation and look in, it's brilliant.
UPDATE: This is my first diary to make it to the rec list! Thank you all, I am honored. :)
Mitt Romney refuses to release his tax returns.
By doing so he is showing that he has something to hide, which causes people to speculate. The evil you don't know is always worse than the evil you know and our curiosity and imagination is usually more fabricated than the actual thing itself.
It is obvious that for some reason Romney would rather get the bad press and speculation for not releasing his returns than get the bad press for releasing whatever is in them.
Harry Reid said that someone from Bain Capital had told him that Romney won't release the returns because he hasn't payed taxes in a decade. He said that it was an 'extremely credible source', but at this moment we don't know who it is.
I think it is true. It wouldn't shock me one bit if Romney hasn't paid taxes in a decade. The rich not paying taxes is not an uncommon thing these days. Reid didn't slip up or gaff, I think he picked this fight on purpose.
Let's put aside the debate over if it is true or not and just focus on the effect.
What happened after Reid made this claim?
1. The charge that Mitt may not have paid taxes for a decade made headlines all over America.
2. Reminded people that Mitt still has not released his returns and recharged the demand to see them, which was starting to fade a bit.
3. It's forcing Romney to defend these charges while still withholding the very documents that could clear his name and splat egg in all our faces if they are clean.
But most importantly, this is defining Romney as a tax dodger. This issue is getting away from him by his own inaction on releasing his returns.
If he does not release his returns and clear this up, I promise you this will not go away. Reid's claim will become the unofficial truth until Mitt can prove otherwise. And if Reid presents his source and it checks out... it's game over for Romney. I hope he does, but if he doesn't it will weaken Reid's claim in the long run, but Romney will be a tax dodger until he can prove otherwise.
Some people would call this a dirty trick. I highly disagree. Besides, as far as the right goes, I refuse to get lectured about campaign ethics from a party that demanded Obama's birth certificate because he's black. This is fair game.
The right is trying to spin this by saying that Reid threw a charge at Romney and since he won't disprove it, we are saying he must be guilty. Claiming that by our logic, they could accuse Reid of being a unicorn rapist and since we can't disprove it, Reid is guilty.
If Reid was repeatedly asked to release his criminal record and relentlessly refused, I could understand the speculation. It would appear that Reid was hiding something.
But we are not throwing slanderous accusations at Romney. He has been asked over and over to release his tax returns like every other presidential candidate and he won't do it. He has no good reason or excuse for why he won't do it. This is not a special case, we aren't asking to see his long form birth certificate or anything. I don't think that wondering if a guy running for President and refusing to show tax returns may not have paid his taxes is a radical thought.
If Romney can't provide proof that he paid his taxes like every candidate does, people will speculate and wonder why not. They will wonder what he's hiding. You can call it politics, but in this case I think it's just human nature. We don't like being lied to and patronized. When we know people are hiding something from us, we imagine what it might be.
So basically, Reid put Romney between a rock and a hard place...
Not release his tax returns and allow the speculation to continue and grow or release them or take the backlash for whatever it is he's hiding?
Harry Reid has put this issue back on the forefront and made it much harder for Romney to shake the Etch-a-Stetch on this.