While the nation’s attention is currently focused on the London Olympics, a political fight for the ages is brewing between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney over the latter’s refusal to divulge more information regarding his tax returns.
The war of words between the two may not remind viewers of the classic rap feud between Jay-Z and Nas but it is still proving to be a pretty damaging argument for both parties involved.
To recap the latest sparring between the two, let’s begin with Reid’s comments to the Huffington Post regarding a comment told to the Majority Leader by a Bain Capital investor:
Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.
“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.
“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?
Senator Reid begins the war of words by dropping the insinuation that a nameless investor told him that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years.
Now that is a serious charge and I do think Harry Reid crossed a line when he referenced his father, former Michigan Governor and one-time presidential candidate George Romney, with the line “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son”. We should not overlook that when recapping this feud.
However the claim was severe enough to receive a sharp rebuke from not only top campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom but from Mitt Romney himself.
Mitt Romney’s top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom had just one question to ask of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid following the latter’s charge that the presumptive Republican nominee didn’t pay taxes for 10 years: “Have you no decency, sir?”
“I don’t think there is anything behind it. He hasn’t produced any evidence,” Fehrnstrom said Thursday in an interview with Fox News. “I’m telling you speaking on behalf of the governor that those charges are untrue, they are baseless and there is nothing to back them up.”
“This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s,” he added.
Then from Mitt Romney:
Well, it’s time for Harry to put up or shut up,” Romney said. “Harry’s going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because of course, that’s totally and completely wrong.
Wow. Isn’t that the sharpest rebuke we’ve heard from Mitt Romney, well, ever? From the guy who didn’t know how to respond to Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Sandra Fluke; it seems Mitt’s handlers might’ve finally injected a little personality serum into him. Yes, he did the show with Sean Hannity, but still if there is one thing conservatives love; it’s bashing Senate Democrats. Heck, I’m shocked he didn’t bring in Nancy Pelosi from the pure rush he must’ve gotten for those comments.
Still, the feud between the two has received quite the reaction from social media and the regular media as well. Trends such as “Put Up Or Shut Up” and #HeardAboutHarry (a sarcastic hashtag to mock the “unnamed Bain investor”) have sprout up on Twitter and even Daily Show host, Jon Stewart got into the fray calling Harry Reid “really, really terrible”.
In fact, there have been some people that have even claimed that Reid’s comments regarding Mitt Romney and his refusal to show his tax returns from before 2010 are similar to the “birther” movement. Yes, the same birther movement that has people questioning what country President Barack Obama was born in.
No the “taxers” aren’t similar at all to the birthers and this isn’t just partisan talk.
The birther movement has origins in racism as well as a distinct partisan feel to it. You will not see non-Tea Party zealots demanding President Obama release his long-form birth certificate. It’s simply a dead political issue that’s only been brought up by the far-right and their voices are louder on the outside than in the Beltway. The birther movement is also used to discredit the President from being constitutionally eligible from residing in the Oval Office. Simply put, it’s nothing more than a vast conspiracy theory that was popularized by the Tea Party breakthrough.
The taxers on the other hand are not just Democratic loyalists or progressive netrooters. It extends to Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Chuck Grassley to name a few. None of those names are likely to appear at Netroots Nation or any other Democratic Party function anytime soon. Also, another key difference between the two “movements” is that well…Barack Obama actually released his long-form birth certificate. Mitt Romney has waffled at every opportunity and has in fact, made this a bigger deal than it ought to be.
I will not be one of those people that say that Mitt Romney is definitely hiding something. I also believe that he does have a certain right to privacy, however it does look awful for your campaign when you only release a small amount of returns and try to avoid showing more. Most people believe that if you have nothing to hide, you should “put up or shut up”.
Make no mistake about it, Mitt Romney is a very rich man. However so were Democratic icons such as John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This isn’t a referendum on the “wealthy” so to speak but one on transparency.
This issue has hung over Mitt Romney’s head for a very long time. It gets to the point where I think most people are waiting for it to be over, which puts the ball in Mitt Romney’s court.
Harry Reid seems to be taking one for the team if you can take anything from the feud between the two politicians. Reid is trying to corner Romney as Romney tries to paint Reid as a bully or as a zany conspiracy theorist. It seems that both attacks might actually work but it does show clear battle lines.
For those who think conservatives might stay home due to their lack of love regarding Mitt Romney, take a look at how loud those people are voicing their support for him. Or to more accurately portray it, look how they are voicing their distaste against Harry Reid.