Savage political campaigns and often more-savage scenes in the halls of Congress have been part of American history since the War for Independence ended. Compared to Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold’s famous brawl on the House floor in 1798, what Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said about Mitt Romney on the Senate floor seems tame. But it is a cowardly act.
What Harry Reid said
Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold, Congressional Pugilists. Original caption: “He in a trice struck Lyon thrice upon his head, enraged, sir. Who seized the tongs to ease his wrongs, and Griswold thus engaged, sir.” Library of Congress.
On July 31, Harry Reid said this of Mitt Romney, to suggest why Romney will not release his tax returns for the years 2000-2009:
The word’s out he (Mitt Romney) hasn’t paid any taxes in 10 years. Let him prove he has paid taxes. Because he hasn’t.
He first said that in an interview. But two days later he said it again, on the floor of the Senate.
Accusing a man of a felony would be grounds for legal action, did Harry Reid say it anywhere but the Senate floor. Harry Reid has said, at least twice, one of two things:
- Mitt Romney has failed to file his income taxes for ten years, or
- Mitt Romney had no tax liability for the tax years 2000-2009, and that should embarrass anyone running for President.
How the world is taking it
So far, at least some in the mainstream media know what Harry Reid said was false, or at least impossible to believe. All that Harry Reid or his office will say is that an anonymous investor at Bain Capital whispered that no-tax-liability claim in his ear.
But they’re not asking why Harry Reid said what he said, or what he hoped to gain. (Except for Bernard Goldberg, a mainstream media refugee.) Nor has Harry Reid backed down, or even tried to make clear whether he meant no tax liability or no tax filings.
And Mitt Romney is not handling this correctly. He says only that Harry Reid ought to take back what he said on the Senate floor, or tell the world who told him that Mitt Romney paid no taxes (legally or illegally) for ten years.
Wayne Allyn Root, who ran for Vice-President as a Libertarian in 2008, has another idea. Harry Reid and his friends in and out of the Senate say that Mitt Romney could “straighten this all out” by releasing his tax files for 2000-2009. Fine, says Root, but only after putative President Obama releases his records from his undergraduate years at Columbia University. Root has a theory that Obama attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student, on a scholarship available only to foreign exchange students. (And that Obama’s grades were far too low to get him in to Harvard Law School.)
How the world should answer Harry Reid
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Photo: United States Senate.
First, Nancy Pelosi, by taking his side, has embarrassed herself even worse than Harry Reid has. He has committed one of three offenses, and two of them could land him in jail. If, as seems likely, he has accused Mitt Romney falsely and without evidence, he has committed slander. But if he has evidence that Mitt Romney never filed an income tax return for ten years, and will not show that to the proper authorities, then he is committing either misprision of felony (a misdemeanor) or extortion (a felony). And he is doing it to influence an election, and that also raises the stakes. If fellow Senator Mitch McConnell were to say anything similar of Obama on the Senate floor, Harry Reid would try to throw him out of the Senate. (And the Senate has thrown members out for less.)
Still, Mitt Romney shouldn’t concentrate on Harry Reid. The real target is his political opponent, Barack Obama. For Obama has more than his college records under seal. He put a “birth certificate” on the White House server. An independent investigation has proved that fraudulent. But Mitt Romney’s campaign won’t take that up. Are they careless? Timid? Or under a threat?
Last: where are the mainstream media? Why is no one but the alternative media asking these questions? A United States Senator insinuates that a man didn’t file his income taxes for ten years. This is normal and acceptable behavior? It might not rise to the level of Lyon and Griswold attacking each other with a walking cane and fire tongs. But it comes close.
And people wonder why no one respects the Senate anymore, or the media.