Harry Reid must not remain the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate. That???s an understandable objective for Republican voters in November, but it really shouldn???t take until then. Reid deserves the strongest possible censure from the Senate, and it should be a bipartisan vote. For the moment, the Democrats have the majority, so someone from their party must be Majority Leader, but it shouldn???t be Harry Reid.
This should be a simple enough consensus for a bipartisan majority to reach. Reid???s record of obstructionism, and his failure to even produce a budget in accordance with the duties of the Senate, are certainly reasons to vote against his party in the upcoming elections. But when he took his weird effort to slander presidential candidate Mitt Romney onto the Senate floor, his incompetence reached a new level, and questions about his mental competence were invited.
For those unfamiliar with the origin of this scandal, Reid has taken to claiming that some anonymous Bain Capital investor has privately informed him that Mitt Romney hasn???t paid any taxes for ten years. This would be a felony crime, exposing Romney to extensive penalties, and possibly even imprisonment.
Reid???s claims are ludicrous on a number of levels. There???s no reason any private investor would be privy to the confidential tax information of a partner at his investment firm. Bain doesn???t prepare taxes for its partners in-house. Romney hasn???t been actively involved in directing company operations since he left to manage the Salt Lake City Olympics in 1999, so Reid???s imaginary ???source??? would be essentially claiming to have reviewed the enormously complex, confidential IRS submissions of someone who used to work for Bain Capital. And Romney has already released tax information for the last two years. He most certainly did pay taxes, and plenty of them. Are we supposed to believe he only started paying them two years ago? He ran for President in 2008. Was he dodging his taxes while he did that?
Reid???s not really even pretending to believe his own story. When reporters challenged him in a conference call, he suddenly began claiming ???I have had a number of people tell me that.??? The reporters wanted to know who those people might be. ???No, that???s the best you???re going to get from me. I don???t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns????
But when Reid made the remarkable and offensive decision to drag this garbage onto the floor of the Senate on Thursday, he was back to just one mysterious ???source,??? and suddenly he was up to 12 years of Romney paying no taxes, instead of 10.
Conservatives have been having fun with Reid by turning his own ridiculous tactics against him, and claiming that ???anonymous sources??? have told them the Senate Majority Leader is guilty of all sorts of horrible crimes, which he must now aggressively prove himself innocent of. As funny as those jests might be, this is no laughing matter. The Senate Majority Leader is either mentally unfit to continue in office, or he???s a disgusting liar who has employed his office to engage in the lowest form of political slander??? all in the service of a distraction that was silly to begin with, as the Democrats somehow imagine that the public will forget about a collapsing economy and horrific unemployment because they really want to see Mitt Romney???s tax returns from 2003.
The Senate has standards, and rules of ethics, designed in part to prevent a cheap political operator like Reid from hijacking the chamber for this kind of infantile theater. A lot of what transpires in both houses of Congress has primarily political motivations, of course, but there has to be some limit, based the barest notions of honor, professionalism, patriotism, and simple decency. Otherwise, what???s to prevent every Senator from seizing the floor to launch baseless accusations at his political opponents, based on imaginary ???sources,??? and turn the next session into an endless series of show trials?
Reid probably thinks he???s clever for having backed Romney into a corner, since even if the Republican candidate had been considering the release of more tax information, he can hardly afford to be seen capitulating to Reid???s thug tactics. But in reality, Reid???s overreach has made the whole ???Mitt Romney???s taxes??? storyline radioactive for Democrats. They???re the ones who must now carefully consider whether they want to associate themselves, in even the most tangential way, with Reid???s disgraceful performance.