The Senate majority leader launched a charm offensive the other day and, among his other drolleries, said this:
"Because of the Citizens United decision, Karl Rove and the Republicans are looking forward to a breakfast the day after the election. They are going to assemble 17 angry old white men for breakfast, some of them will slobber in their food, some will have scrambled eggs, some will have oatmeal, their teeth are gone. But these 17 angry old white men will say, 'Hey, we just bought America. Wasn't so bad. We still have a whole lot of money left.'"
This one is sort of curious because, in case the senator hasn't noticed, he is, himself, a dyspeptic old white man. You know, the kind who says offensive things just for the sake of being offensive and is the only person in the room – if not the world – who thinks what he just said is funny and then drools when he laughs. The Washington Post sees this as Senator Reid's "sharp tongue," at work. Honest.
But the "angry old white men" bit was not the news nut in the senator's "wide ranging interview." That would be his assertion that someone who once worked at Bain Capital with Mitt Romney had called him with some super-duper inside information.
"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?"
Well, that is sure to seal it for many, many people. The senator says he got a call from somebody he can't name who told him something he can't verify. But he is making it public because ... well, maybe he considers it his civic duty.
The story is preposterous but that doesn't seem to bother Reid or the various editors who repeated it and who believe, one assumes, that it is certain to make us all very angry at Mitt Romney. But if the story is true – or even if it could be true – then perhaps our indignation ought to be aimed at old sharp-tongued Harry and not Mitt Romney who, presumably, paid what the law said he owed and hired very good lawyers and accountants to make sure of it. So if he isn't paying enough (or even anything) then precisely whose fault is that?
Could the blame possibly fall on the people who wrote – and keep rewriting – the tax laws? If Mitt Romney and others, like Warren Buffett, are not paying what the decent opinion of mankind thinks is sufficient in the way of taxes, then it has to be because, like many others who have been in Washington long enough to become angry old white men, Harry Reid is either corrupt or incompetent – or both – when it comes to writing tax law.
But he is a charmer, that Harry.