Harry Reid recently announced that an inside source has informed him that Romney went a rather long time paying no taxes whatsoever.
Well. We already knew that he paid an abysmally low rate--15% or so, if memory serves. He already pays lower than most folks out there--did he actually pay lower still? Embarrassingly lower? Disgustingly lower?
It certainly looks like it: if not--if the returns only reveal more of what we already know and the speculation is more damaging than the contents--then his refusal to reveal them seems a high-handed and unnecessary blunder. But nothing at all? That would take some awfully clever accounting. And just why the hell would some Bain insider know about Romney's taxes in the first place and then anonymously spill the beans to Harry Reid of all people?!
So while there's a nonzero chance that Reid's source actually exists, and somewhat smaller chance that he is correct, we don't have anything like sufficient evidence for it. Making a claim like that without evidence is more than a little dishonest even if you believe it to be true, and I can't quite convince myself that Reid does believe it to be true. It's also something of a tactical blunder, as it gives Romney the opportunity to reveal the returns, point at a high-ranking Democrat and say, "Just look at the lies that they're telling about me!"
Reid's comments drew criticism--Jon Stewart savaged him in a clip actually entitled You, Harry Reid, Are Terrible. My personal opinion is that this is a particularly unskilled bit of partisan hackery, and that he should be thrown under the metaphorical bus for it.
But note, as Stewart does, the double standard--someone on the Left makes an unsubstantiated claim and draws the immediate ire of both the media and his own side. Contrast the Right, in which birtherism still runs rampant, and which routinely accuses the President of variously being such contradictory things as a socialist, communist, Nazi, foreign infiltrator, and traitor; and also of trying to destroy America and launch a new Holocaust.
There's the difference between Right and Left, and there's why I hold the smug 'pox on both your houses' crowd in such contempt. Reid says that a man who won't release his tax returns didn't pay any taxes, he gets jumped on, including liberals. Several local officials announce plans to go after a restaurant for giving money to hate groups, the ACLU is right on the ball with a letter, and they all walk it back. The Right says the Left is party to genocide, paints its own modified healthcare plan as a Bolshevik plot, and accuses the President of launching a war on Christianity, and ... crickets. Is the Left perfect? Absolutely not! Politics is imperfect by definition, and there are a lot of stinkers with a D next to their names (one of which is 'Reid'). But the Right has cast off any internal corrective mechanism and is spiraling into a feedback loop of crazy.
What's going to bring them back? Electoral pain, basically--demographics and disgust. It may be more than we can hope for in bad economic times that the more-or-less out-party gets thrashed, but there's nothing like a few years out of power to get a party to change direction.