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Why Reid's Romney Tax Allegation Goes Too Far

A final note about Romney and tax returns: I love Harry Reid—think he’s been a force for good in the world and a major asset to Democrats as majority leader. But his assertion that Romney paid no taxes for ten years, sourced to an anonymous Bain Capital investor, is simply over the line. If a figure like Reid can throw around allegations like this with no proof to back it up, one wonders where it stops. Surely Democrats would denounce a Republican who said they had it on good authority that certain Democratic officials were crypto-Islamists. (In fact, they have.) 

This kind of thing may work politically—I’m not disputing that. But I think Democrats should be very careful about moving us closer to a world in which it’s acceptable behavior. Both for moral reasons, and because the contemporary GOP is just much better at these games. A world in which damaging, unsupported allegations get tossed around by public officials with big megaphones is a world in which Republicans are going to win a lot more elections than Democrats. 

Update: Some of our commenters make a fair point: The analogy between Reid and the Bachmann-Muslim Brotherhood accusations isn't quite right, since Romney can disprove Reid's allegations relatively easily while it's basically impossible to disprove one's Islamism. (Let's be honest: How can any of us be sure we're not Islamists? Maybe I'm subconsciously rooting for Muslim theocracy and I'm just not aware of it...) 

In fact, Reid's tack here isn't even as bad as the birthers who insist Obama was born abroad. That can be disproven relatively easily, too. But the president, or the nominee of a major political party, shouldn't have to release an original copy of his birth certificate. By contrast, I think a major party nominee should have to release his tax returns going back several years, especially if he's sitting on ungodly sums of money. 

Having said that, Reid's comment is still crass rumor-mongering and it's ugly. Democrats should be above it. 

Follow me on twitter: @noamscheiber