Frank Rich defends Harry Reid against illustrious Republicans Ann Coulter and RNC Chairman Reince “What Planet Am I From” Priebus:
Last week, Harry Reid claimed on the Senate floor that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid any taxes for ten years. The head of the RNC called Reid a “dirty liar.” What’s Reid trying to do here? It’s entirely possible that Reid’s incendiary charge has nothing to back it up but (at best) an unsubstantiated rumor. That’s why the GOP is likening him to Joe McCarthy.
But there are two important distinctions between Reid and McCarthy. (1) Reid isn’t accusing Romney of being a traitor or even of breaking the law; he’s accusing him of paying no taxes, which can be perfectly legal for the super-rich if loopholes and ingenious accounting schemes align in their favor. (2) While McCarthy’s victims couldn’t empirically and instantly prove that they were not subversives, Romney can easily call Reid’s bluff and prove that he did pay taxes by releasing his tax returns. So if Romney releases his returns, which many Republicans feel he should do anyway as a matter of transparency and good politics, and it turns out Reid is indeed a dirty liar, end of story. Republicans in the Senate can then turn the heat on the Democrats, moving to censure Reid much as McCarthy’s Senate peers ultimately censured him.
But Romney isn’t likely to release his tax returns, is he? Good job, Harry.
Footnote: I’m picturing Mittens on the witness stand, being grilled by Joseph Nye Welch, who asked McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” That was the beginning of the end of Tail Gunner Joe, who was as big a liar as Romney, and a lot tougher.