Mitt Romney’ new demand that Harry Reid needs to “put up or shut up” is pretty rich. Let’s stipulate that Reid’s bald, unsubstantiated claim that Mitt went 10 years without having to pay taxes is, well, bald and unsubstantiated. Still, in the spectrum of vicious political attacks, this doesn’t rank. It’s not the unprovable, unknowable, can’t-wash-off-the-stink, scurrilous savagery that any candidate is defenseless against.
That’s the beauty of it, if you’re an Obama partisan like Reid is. Romney’s best, most logical defense is simply to release the taxes. Case closed. End of story. Pushing the idea that Romney is somehow off the hook if Reid doesn’t divulge his source is not just silly, but it puts Romney in a ridiculous position. Romney is playing for time, but in a way that only cheapens and demeans himself.
One other observation: When Romney says that Reid is wrong and in fact he has paid taxes every year, I hope Romney isn’t lumping in real estate taxes, personal property taxes, sales taxes and every other manner of levy to make the point. The whole debate is about income taxes. I can’t imagine Team Romney thinks it could get away with a dodge that brazen, but then again …
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.