Back in 2012, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid repeated over and over the line that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not paid taxes in 10 years. Reid dared Romney to disprove the allegation by releasing his tax returns.
It was, of course, a totally illegitimate tactic. I said so at the time, noting that in America, the maker of an allegation has the responsibility to prove his charge, and the subject is entitled to the presumption of innocence. (This is a fact Reid knows well, since he was a lawyer before his public service.)
In fact, I went even further, reminding Reid once that unsupported allegations of communist affiliation had plagued the nation during the days of the Hollywood blacklist. Reid gamely replied that those so accused could never prove their innocence, whereas Romney could easily dispel Reid’s charge — by releasing his tax returns!
As illegitimate as it was, Reid’s tactic helped derail Romney’s bid for the presidency. Later, confronted about his tax allegation, a grinning Reid justified his tactic by saying, “He [Romney] didn’t win, did he?” (It must be noted that Reid’s reply apparently “appalled” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, a man known to have a very strong stomach when it comes to evaluating the moral implications of politics.)
Flash forward to today, where the the abused Romney has become the abuser, claiming there are hidden revelations in the taxes of businessman Donald Trump.
And, in his speech today denouncing Trump as a phony and a fraud, Romney actually said this:
We will only really know if he’s a real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and the tape of his interview with The New York Times. I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. I predict that he doesn’t give much, if anything, to the disabled and to our veterans. I predict that he told The New York Times that his immigration talk is just that — talk.
And I predict that despite his promise to do so, first made over a year ago, that he will never ever release his tax returns. Never — not the returns under audit; not even the returns that are no longer being audited. He has too much to hide. Nor will he authorize the release of the tapes that he made with The New York Times.
If I’m right, you’ll have all the proof you need to know that Donald Trump is indeed a phony. Attacking me as he surely will won’t prove him any less of a phony. It’s entirely in his hands to prove me wrong. All he has to do is release his back taxes like he promised he would and let us hear what he said behind closed doors to The New York Times.
That’s right: Romney in 2016 used almost the exact same language to attack Trump that Reid used to attack Romney back in 2012. The victim has become the victimizer. The abused has become the abuser. Even Reid is (claiming to be) shocked by Romney’s tactic, although that may be grudging admiration for Romney’s utter gall.
Politics is a strange business, and, if you wait long enough, you will see it all. Today’s Mitt-Flop is one for the history books.
(Oh, by the way, nothing in this blog should be construed to take away from Romney’s overall “Trump is a fraud” message. That part is all true.)