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Harry Reid Doesn’t Regret Spreading False Charges About Mitt Romney’s Taxes

Harry Reid

During the height of the 2012 Presidential campaign, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who announced last week that he was retiring at the end of his current term, made several outlandish claims regarding Republican nominee Mitt Romney that became the focus of a media firestorm. It all began in late July of that year, when Reid claimed in an interview that a source he would not name had contacted him out of the blue and claimed that Mitt Romney had not paid any Federal income taxes at all over the previous ten years. As I noted at the time, even though Romney had not yet released his 2011 taxes or other information regarding previous tax years, the claim itself was outlandish on its face. For one thing, as one CNN Money analyst noted, it simply was not possible that anyone who might have been inclined to release information like this to Reid would have had access to Romney’s tax information for the previous decade. More importantly, the entire tale that Reid was telling sounded so utterly absurd that there was no reason to believe it was true and that either Reid was letting himself get duped by a source who was telling him what he wanted to hear, or there never really was a source at all and Reid was making the whole thing up. Despite these questions about his claims, though Reid persisted in making the arguments and it wasn’t until Romney finally released a more detailed tax report that we learned, not surprisingly, that the claims Reid was making were utterly false.

Despite the fact that it was essentially proven that Reid was lying, the Senator from Nevada tells a CNN reporter that he has no regrets:

“Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid said in response to Bash’s question of whether he regretted what he had said about Romney.

Think about that logic for a minute. What Reid is saying is that it’s entirely immaterial whether what he said about Romney and his taxes was true. All that mattered was that Romney didn’t win.

Here’s the video:

Chris Cillizza, who isn’t exactly a right-winger, finds the entire thing appalling:

Where to begin?

How about with the fact that this all-means-justify-the-ends logic — assuming the end is your desired one — is absolutely toxic for politics and, more importantly, democracy.  (Worth noting: Reid is far from the only one who practices this sort of thinking; it’s the rule rather than the exception in political Washington, where winning — no matter the cost — is the only goal that matters.) If you can lie — or, at a minimum, mislead based on scant information or rumor — then anything is justified in pursuit of winning. This sort of “the winners make the rules” approach is part of the broader partisan problem facing Washington and the polarization afflicting the nation more broadly.  There is no trust between the two parties because they believe — and have some real justification for believing — that the other side will say and do literally anything to win.

Think about Reid’s statement in another context. I have two little kids.  What if I told my son, who has just started playing soccer, that his only aim was to win the game — no matter how he accomplished that goal.  After all, it’s not cheating unless someone can prove it, right?

Would anyone think that was either (a) good parenting or (b) broadly beneficial for society? No.  That is the same logic Reid is applying here, but because we are all inured to the horribleness that is modern political strategy, people barely bat an eye. No, politics ain’t beanbag. I get that. But allowing elected officials to say anything they want about people running for office — and requiring zero proof in order to report those claims — seems to be a bridge too far.

Some will accuse Cillizza of engaging in pearl clutching here, and I’m certainly no Pollyanna when it comes to politics and the lies, misrepresentations, and dirty tricks that candidates and their surrogates engage in to win elections. However, I believe he has a point here and the extent to which Reid is likely to be forgiven for what he did and, indeed, lauded by people on both sides of the aisle as his time in the Senate comes to an end is really rather extraordinary. For one thing, the fact that Reid made these accusations about Romney not at some campaign rally somewhere, but, on at least one occasion, while standing on the floor of the Senate makes the acts he engaged in seem all the more egregious. We expect our representatives so say ridiculous things at campaign rallies, but when they are speaking as legislators there should be some higher expectations that they are expected to meet and, at the very, least, they shouldn’t just be patted on the back and sent on their way when they are blatantly caught fabricating allegations about a candidate from the opposing party. As I said when this story first broke, Reid’s claims were ridiculous from the beginning. Given the nature of his investments and income, it was to be expected that Romney’s effective tax rate would be lower than other people, but Reid was claiming more than that. According to Harry Reid, Mitt Romney didn’t pay income taxes at all, and he never really made it clear whether he meant that Romney was able to tax advantage of tax laws that reduced his effective tax rate to zero, which is so close to being impossible that it was hard to believe anyway, or whether he was accusing Romney of breaking the law and just not paying taxes, an assertion that was absurd on its face. Reid’s supporters, of course, will say that he was merely passing along something a “source” told him, but given the outlandishness of the claim it’s entirely plausible that there never was a source and that Reid made the whole thing up. Reid is not an unintelligent man, after all, and if some person he didn’t know made a claim like this one would have assumed he would have tried to verify it rather than just blindly repeating it. In any case, since we learned that Reid’s claims were, in fact, false, the suspicion that he was lying the whole time is certainly not an unreasonable one. Have we really become so cynical about our political system that we’re willing to sit back and accept it when a politician makes a claim that is so obviously nonsensical? If that’s the case, then we are in far deeper trouble than I’ve previously imagined.

As he approaches his retirement in December 2016, Reid will no doubt be lauded by member of his own party, by at least some people on the other side of the aisle, and no doubt by the President of the United States. None of them will ever make mention of Reid’s obvious fabrications, the irresponsible nature of his claims, or the fact that he has no regrets for what he did. And that’s a problem.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Paul L. says:

    Enjoy your standard, Progressives.

    Progressives believe that Christina Eilman was completely to blame for what happened to her. Not the police or any people in the housing project in a crime-ridden neighborhood on the city’s notorious South Side. She should not get a penny from the city of Chicago and should now have the same treatment as Terri Schiavo.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262958/Christina-Eilman-Chicago-pays-22-5-MILLION-woman-gang-raped-plummeted-seventh-story-window-police-failed-proper-care-her.html

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  2. KM says:

    Have we really become so cynical about our political system that we’re willing to sit back and accept it when a politician makes a claim that is so obviously nonsensical? If that’s the case, then we are in far deeper trouble than I’ve previously imagined.

    Geez, Doug. Been taking a nap? We’ve been in trouble for a long long time now. I doubt my grandparents remember a time when politicians were expected to make sense, let alone me. The American public accepts- nay, demands – constant nonsense and lies lately as a matter of course. The sheer amount of BS hit our national LC50 ages ago and now you have to be truly, truly outrageous to even register anymore.

    For the record, Reid’s an ass for knowingly telling lies like that. Add him to the list, if you can find room.

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  3. sam says:

    Well, ya know, it ain’t beanbag. When I first heard Reid say that, I thought of this story from Lyndon Johnson’s Texas.

    Seems this fellow was trying to unseat the sherrif in some East Texas county. The sherrif’s campaign manager told the incumbent that he was going to start a rumor that the challenger fvcked pigs. “What??” said the sherrif. “Nobody’s gonna believe that.” “Yeah, I know,” said the campaign manager, “but I want to get the SOB to to deny it.”

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  4. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t approve of any politician lying. Really. I wish all of them would stop. Of course the real problem is that we the people create a market for lies. They deal, we shoot up.

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  5. Pinky says:

    humanoid.panda:

    humanoid.panda says:
    Friday, March 27, 2015 at 11:25
    @Pinky: Given that he was instrumental in passing the biggest advance in obtaining a federal health insurance guarantee for all Americans in fifty years, he deserves all the halos he can get.

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  6. Tillman says:

    We expect our representatives so say ridiculous things at campaign rallies, but when they are speaking as legislators there should be some higher expectations that they are expected to meet and, at the very, least, they shouldn’t just be patted on the back and sent on their way when they are blatantly caught fabricating allegations about a candidate from the opposing party.

    I agree a hundred percent. We shouldn’t have legislators lying to the public about accepted science on the floor of the legislature, or legislators lying to the public about what caused the Great Recession. (The latter is arguably worse than what you are criticizing because it was on live national television after a civic ritual started a century ago and is nothing but naked partisanship.) They should all be ashamed of themselves. Unless it’s not lying to the public you’re worried about, but lying to the public about candidates from another party specifically?

    But good on you for distinguishing Reid with your soapblog. That guy’s totally craven.

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  7. David M says:

    This was basically Reid trolling the GOP and Romney about something embarrassing, but inconsequential, so I won’t go so far as to say Reid shouldn’t have said it, even if he made it up.

    (I’ll start caring about politicians trolling each other over nonsense when people stop taking the Burwell / King lawsuit seriously.)

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  8. Tillman says:

    Well not all is lost — got to re-read this nice comment by Herb.

    You could slam Alan Grayson’s comment about the Republican alternative to Obamacare being “die fast” or whatever it was. That was both false (the Republicans have an “alternative”) and inflammatory politically. But Harry Reid admits he doesn’t care that he lied and it’s suddenly a problem in our politics.

    First point (for pedants): according to Frankfurt, Harry Reid bullshitted. He made the claim irreverent to the truth, not in opposition to it. If anything, Reid wanted to know the truth as much as anybody else if only for curiosity’s sake. I agree bullshit is a horrible thing, but it’s not deception per se and thus doesn’t have an equivalent moral opprobrium attached to it.

    Second point (for inquisitives): The links to other OTB articles you’ve authored on the subject aren’t necessarily the strong logical points supporting the political landscape you describe in this article. The comments, especially, seem to raise many intriguing points that complicate the narrative.

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  9. M. Bouffant says:

    No more of a “lie” than incessant Republican claims that the President is a Communist Muslim traitor who hates America & Israel yada yada yada to infinity.

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  10. humanoid.panda says:

    @Pinky:Your point is?

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  11. Tillman says:

    @Tillman: (because apparently I have nothing better to do today)

    Third point (for alethiophiles): If you asked Alan Grayson about his inflammatory remarks, not quite outrageous but bordering on eliciting disapproval from party elders of any stripe, he would defend them. This doubling-down on irrationality is the real symptom of decadence in our political discourse. It’s a symptom of detachment from reality, something only displayed by people too clothed in luxury to have to pay attention. People detached from reality, we’ve agreed as a culture, make bad decisions.

    Backhanded political tactics like Reid’s have been the rule of the day for so damn long, for nearly all of recorded history. Hell, Rauch at the Atlantic actually made a persuasive case a year ago that some corruption — a civic sin a magnitude or two more orders above the one we’re discussing — was essential for good, smooth governance. And we don’t compare to our ancestors in any regard when it comes to bullshit. To complain about this politician’s remarks because he expresses no remorse for them is to complain about his lack of remorse, not that he did it. You want contrition, you want civic virtue.

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  12. MBunge says:

    The idea that ANYONE, let alone someone of Romney’s background, should be allowed to run for President without releasing their tax returns is ridiculous. The shame isn’t on Reid. It’s that our elites were going to let Romney get away with it, opening the door for Reid’s trolling.

    Mike

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  13. wr says:

    Well, Chris Cilizza is always the biggest pearl clutcher this side of Lindsey Graham’s fainting couch,, but I guess Doug is planning on joining the competition.

    This wasn’t a lie so much as it was a taunt — he was saying “Romney didn’t pay any income taxes… go ahead, prove me wrong!” It was clearly a game designed to make Romney either release his taxes or defend his refusal to do so.

    I’m not sure why Doug is so concerned about little Mitt’s fee-fees on the subject. It’s not like he’s obsessing over the much uglier story about lies and their consequences coming out of Missourri these days.

    Reid was poking Romney with a stick while Republicans were running around screaming that Obama was in league with terrorists trying to destroy America. So of course Reid is the only bad actor in that election.

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  14. Moderate Mom says:

    Somehow, Harry Reid has managed to become quite wealthy over the years, while working in the public sector essentially his entire adult life. Less than $200k a year in salary isn’t going to buy you an apartment at the Ritz Carlton in DC. It would be interesting to take a gander at Harry’s tax returns for the past 10 or 20 years and see what his effective tax rate has been all of those years.

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  15. Modulo Myself says:

    At the end of the day, Reid knew he lied. This is a huge step up from the land of climate-change denial and Obamacare-is-killing-us.

    Also, if you write for Politico you are part of the problem.

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  16. Modulo Myself says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    Get your smears straight. Reid’s possible corruption has nothing to do with what tax rate he is paying.

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  17. Tony W says:

    @Moderate Mom: I agree. The minute he runs for President I’ll demand his tax returns as well.

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  18. Liberal With Attitude says:

    Geez, give the guy a break.
    Harry Reid single handedly took on the Las Vegas mob and walked away with just a black eye.

    That’s gotta count for something!

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  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Enjoy your standard, Progressives.

    Well, we all enjoy the current conservative standard, don’t we?

    Shutdown the federal government, countenance a federal default, oppose job losses in the American Auto Industry, discriminate against gay people, deny women reproductive rights.

    Learn it. Know it. Live it

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  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    …And we are supposed to buy his BS story about how he got hurt “exercising?”

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  21. Tillman says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    This is a huge step up from the land of climate-change denial and Obamacare-is-killing-us.

    You mean it isn’t?

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  22. MarkedMan says:

    Harry Reid told a cynical lie in an effort to get Romney to release his tax returns (Which ol’ Mit never really did by the way). And then the media did what it usually does: even after Romney was able to prove it was not true, the media kept reporting it as “he said, she said” thereby minimizing the number of subscribers that would leave in a huff if they simply reported reality.

    It’s bad when a Republican’s lie, and it’s bad when Democrats lie. This is really a case of “both sides do it”.

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  23. de stijl says:

    Reid is a known Edith Piaf fan and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien is his fave.

    Which might sound odd coming from someone who also choked some guy who attempted to bribe him while he was the Nevada Gaming Commissioner.

    Like John Shaft, he is a complicated man.

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  24. Guarneri says:

    Harry Reid is a particularly rancid piece of political filth. I’m not surprised to see who it is here rationalizing his behavior.

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  25. Tillman says:

    @MarkedMan: No, it’s worse than both sides do it. It’s accepted that Republicans will deny the current comprehensive scientific consensus because of the industries they tend to represent. Their deception is forgivable as normal business for politicians because we know they’re bought and paid for. They’ll utter the quaintest falsehoods on the Senate floor, and not a peep about how Washington’s a den of crooks. But a quasi-ethical problem with a Democrat? Suddenly the institution has reached a new low.

    It’s a double standard. Republicans are always the bad guys who are given a pass for just being bad, so Democrats have to be these saints. It’s lazy thinking, and frankly a little demeaning to conservatives.

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  26. stonetools says:

    I’d feel more sympathetic to Doug’s point if it wasn’t that Romney himself lied more than any Presidential candidate has done in recent memory, Romney never revealed his tax returns, and that Doug’s preferred party are full of people who lied us into a war in Iraq, lied about whether Obama was an American and are still lying about the effects of Obamacare and about climate change.
    While you are calling out liars, Doug, you should call out your fellow libertarian brethren, Cannon and Adler, who are straight out lying to the Supreme Court by saying that the Democratic legislators who passed the ACA didn’t intend for the federal subsidies to go to everyone. The lies of THOSE sociopaths might end up causing millions of people to lose health insurance. Why aren’t you calling out those lies, Doug?

    All that said, Harry Reid shouldn’t have repeated the rumors he heard. But

    1. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow.
    2. Reid didn’t start the fire. Right wingers like Lee atwater and Karl Rove perfected this stuff way before 2012. Reid gave back a little of what conservatives have been doing to liberals since the 1970s.

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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Did I miss something and Reid presented this as fact, or just passed along a rumor he’d heard?

    This sort of smear and innuendo thing is as old as politics itself. Andrew Jackson was called everything from a bigamist to a gambler to a horse thief in the election of 1838. Hell, Jefferson and Adams, two men I revere, waged one of the dirtiest / ugliest political campaigns we’ve ever seen against one another in the election of 1800.

    Cilizza should stop clutching his pearls. This is hardly anything new. It wasn’t even that inventive.

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  28. Steve V says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: How a story made up on talk radio becomes accepted as fact on the right.

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  29. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @al-Ameda: What’s weird is that I seem to recall only 1/2 the aisle maintaining that cops do no wrong.

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  30. Lahar says:

    Despite his huge political accomplishments for the Democratic party, I agree with some of the statements above that Harry Reid is “craven”. I have little respect for him based solely on his push to remove wild mustangs from the ranges of Nevada in favor of ranchers who want to graze their cattle on federal acreage (for very low costs). Keep in mind that I am a rancher. My family is from Nevada. I understand these issues. Plus, most of the benefiting ranchers in Nevada are conservative Republicans. I see Harry Reid as the type of person who played the game very successfully to win, for himself. Some of his actions have been good, but some others have not helped us as a nation, in my opinion. Want more information on this topic? A good place to start is here: http://rtfitchauthor.com/tag/harry-reid/. Goodbye Harry. I think and hope that our nation can do better.

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  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So, what have we learned?

    –Harry Reid thinks it’s perfectly OK to lie (or, if you prefer, “bullshit”) as long as Democratic political goals are advanced. (We should call this “The Reid Principle.”)

    –Hillary Clinton repeatedly lied about her private e-mail server.

    –wr is a lying, cowardly chickenshit.

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  32. MBunge says:

    On the subject of lies, a little reminder of things said by Mitt Romney at the first Presidential debate. (From Think Progress)

    2) “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amounts to $5 trillion over the decade.
    3) “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” If Romney hopes to provide tax relief to the middle class, then his $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work.
    4) “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the facebook icontwitter icon

    Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

    1) “[G]et us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs”. Romney’s plan for “energy independence” actually relies heavily on a study that assumes the U.S. continues with fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration. For instance, he uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” Since he promises to undo the Obama administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, he would cut oil consumption savings of 2 million barrels per day by 2025.
    2) “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amounts to $5 trillion over the decade.
    3) “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” If Romney hopes to provide tax relief to the middle class, then his $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work.
    4) “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.
    5) “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong.” The studies Romney cites actually further prove that Romney would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction., he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.
    5) “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong.” The studies Romney cites actually further prove that Romney would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction.

    Romney stood up on television and blatantly lied about a major economic policy proposal he had been championing for months all over the country. And Harry Reid is the liar about which we need to worry?

    Mike

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  33. Steve V says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You’re right, all democrats are somehow terrible people. How weird! Such a curious coincidence.

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  34. Stonetools says:

    It’s interesting that it’s not certain that the rumor Harry Reid passed along is untrue. Now Doug says its ” outlandish” and highly improbable , but it still could be right, since highly improbable things can be true. Yeah, I know, Reid shouldn’t have passed along a rumor not knowing whether it was true or not. But Mitt Romney had the power to prove Reid wrong beyond any doubt, and he didn’t. . Funny that. I can guess you can bull sh1t a bullsh1tter.
    Romney’s tax returns must be something to behold.

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  35. Kylopod says:

    What makes this episode notable isn’t that a politician lied. It’s that a politician admitted to lying. That’s pretty rare. (One other example I remember is John McCain’s confession to having fibbed about his stance on the Confederate Flag during the 2000 primaries.) It’s important not to fall into the trap of assuming Reid is somehow uniquely craven, and letting those politicians who tell lies that are just as bad or worse off the hook.

    Unfortunately, that’s a habit that even many political junkies with a healthy dose of cynicism have trouble shaking off. No matter how big a whopper you tell, no matter how verifiably false it is, if you insist on its truthfulness with a straight face, and you don’t back down, many people will be tempted to believe you even if they are able to see the holes. It’s just human nature. (It brings to mind the George Burns line, “The secret to acting is sincerity, and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”) That’s why in the political world the Law of Chutzpah reigns supreme, where the easiest way to get away with something is by simply sticking to your guns.

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  36. John425 says:

    @al-Ameda: Hey, look! Ahalameda is doing the Harry Reid thing.

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  37. de stijl says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    Somehow, Harry Reid has managed to become quite wealthy over the years, while working in the public sector essentially his entire adult life.

    From Vox story about the weird “Harry Reid got beat up by Mafia toughs instead of getting whacked by a broken exercise band” conspiracy theory:
    http://www.vox.com/2015/3/30/8309137/harry-reid-mafia

    The right’s larger frustration stems from the sense that people should be looking more closely at Reid’s finances. But the truth here is that the media has looked into this. Extensively. There was an LA Times investigation that followed on an earlier LA Times investigation. The AP and the Washington Post have looked into Reid’s land deals. USA today has investigated his use of campaign funds. Sharron Angle fully aired these allegations in her 2010 campaign against Reid and journalists covered it. Reporters just haven’t found the kind of career-destroying smoking gun that conservatives want to find.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And we are supposed to buy his BS story about how he got hurt “exercising?”

    So your response to a story about someone using unsubstantiated hearsay to slime an opponent is to use unsubstantiated hearsay to slime an opponent?

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  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steve V: How awful of me to judge a group of people by one of their highest leaders. And, of course, who have no choice but to follow him, and can’t denounce him and his lies.

    @de stijl: Live by the smear, die by the smear.

    Besides, he’s leaving, isn’t he? What difference at this point does it make?

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  39. Nikki says:

    Mike Pence has flat-out lied about his stance on discriminating against teh ghey but you want to call out Harry Reid for trolling Mitt Romney?

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve always liked the theory that Romney’s real problem was that his tax returns would show he had been cheating on his tithe to the LDS Church.

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  41. RussS says:

    So the Senate Ethics Committe won’t do anything? Oh, wait, it’s composed of Senators, isn’t it?

    Throw the bum out!!!

    Term limits for Congress.

    Over 300 million people in the USA and we have to have this? Surely, someone in those 300 million can do a more ethical job than him.

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  42. TC says:

    Yes, politicians have always been liars to one degree or another (see Will Rogers); yes, the majority of voters have a bad habit of rarely going beyond the most superficial examination of anything said in a campaign, encouraging bigger and bigger lies; yes, the voters like glib, attractive candidates – style has become much more important than substance; and the media, such as it is, enables this process with their blatant favoritism, sound-bite headlines and intellectual laziness. My Dad, a member of “the greatest generation”, a WWII vet who successfully raised a family and lived what used to be called the American Dream, and is still mentally as sharp as a tack, just watches the process and the results and says “I’m glad I won’t be alive when the ship of state goes down”. I have to agree with him. Damn shame.

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  43. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    @al-Ameda: Hey, look! Ahalameda is doing the Harry Reid thing.

    Who is “Ahalameda”?

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  44. Tillman says:

    @RussS: More ethical? Sure. More effective? Not necessarily.

    I enjoy people here berating Reid for lying. I await the article about the craven Mitch McConnell and how he destroyed any idea of comity or governance in the Senate with a slash-and-burn “give Obama nothing” campaign. Not illegal, not even unethical, but it will do far more damage than Reid failing to be a positive role model for kids.

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  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @gVOR08:

    The best theory that I have heard is that Romney almost certainly took advantage of the 2009 amnesty for foreign financial accounts. His tax return for that year would clearly indicate if he had done so, and releasing a tax return that admits “I’ve been hiding money offshore in an effort to avoid taxation” isn’t the best strategy for a guy who’s running for the presidency.

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  46. John425 says:

    @al-Ameda: Ahalameda is a non-vulgar name that replaces your screen name where you are often referred to as: “that f*cking al-almeda”.

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  47. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    Ahalameda is a non-vulgar name that replaces your screen name where you are often referred to as: “that f*cking al-almeda”.

    Keeping it classy and clever, as always.

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  48. Tillman says:

    I just absolutely love the downvoters in this thread though. John Personna worried about you guys. 😀

    Unlike john, I take comments more seriously than votes. The only thing I’ve gotten in opposition to my critique of Doug’s critique is downvotes and sentimentality. TC, the Greatest Generation basically did live through the ship going down: it was the Great Depression (they wouldn’t be a “great” generation without having beaten something “great”), and it didn’t end with a revolution of the proletariat solely because government grew to accommodate new needs. And when government grew, corruption grew. Slick backroom deals and political machines were the stuff of the 1920s, but now it was all being sanctioned because we needed greater service when the private sector just up and quit. It all happened, it all became embedded, lives were made, ruined, and so on.* I take it for granted that government and corruption go hand in hand because people use their station in life in the private sector all the time to benefit personal preferences, and if you’re a career politician you’ve probably been some form of corrupt.

    What Doug’s complaining about here isn’t corruption, it’s a lack of honor. Pointing out that the institution’s never been that honorable to begin with and he’s inventing a standard to crucify Reid with is a legitimate argument. It forces him to say that he’s making a normative observation, and therefore discriminating some political behaviors as wrong. Then the argument goes, “Why do you seem to only point out the wrong political behaviors of people you politically disagree with?” See, he wants to make the point without being criticized for inconsistency, so he frames it as a deontological issue of deception and uses appropriate language. (“None of them will ever make mention of Reid’s obvious fabrications, the irresponsible nature of his claims, or the fact that he has no regrets for what he did.”) The act itself is bad, regardless of who does it, and my drawing attention to this specific instance of it is motivated entirely by the badness of the act.

    He doesn’t write he’s too tired to point out every time lying happens in politics, he’s just too tired to point out all the times the people he’d most likely vote for do it. 😀 Sorry this turned into a gigantic post, I’m relaxing on a day off.

    *We like to pretend the Greatest Generation were something more than they were: a bunch of people stuck in horrific times due to managerial incompetence at the top of their financial institutions; cultural decadence born from a new drive to consume, there was the societal memento mori of World War 1 to get over after all; and a once-in-a-lifetime ecological disaster. They were still as a social group violently racist, sexist, and classist assholes. If anything, the disasters they experienced in their lives made them more rigid in those areas.

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  49. Realist says:

    In other news today Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. PS. Reid may have exaggerated but Mataconis studiously avoids mentioning exactly how years Romney didn’t pay any taxes despite having income of millions.

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  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Realist:

    THIS has long been my favorite quip about Romney

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  51. Realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Nice one. In God we Trust but the Caymans pay cash!

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  52. Daniel says:

    @MBunge: @Tillman: Daniel
    Maybe it’s just the way I was brought up but my mama would always say that lying is a sin and it gets you in trouble. The sad part of lying is that you have to both remember what you said and that usually entails more lying. At one time duels were fought over lying to assassinate a person and his or her honor. Sadly, honor amongst politicians has become like that amongst thieves.

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  53. Dennis Earhardt says:

    @KM: Couldn’t have said it better! Good post!!

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