5 Words That Show the Corruption, Deception, and Futility of American Politics

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There are moments in politics that simply cause you to stop in utter confusion.

America had one of those moments during the 2012 campaign when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes for the previous 10 years.

Of course, this is an enormous charge that — if true — would bring up all kinds of questions about his character and his suitability for office.

Turns out, it was completely a lie.  What was Reid’s evidence?

When asked, he responded in a way that some kid on the playground might respond when caught in a lie.

Someone told him.

(It was probably Jon Huntsman, though he denies it.)

You get the picture.

The accusation was a lie, based on nothing but a whisper.  Reid could’ve found out the truth before he publicly accused Romney, but he didn’t.

How does he feel now about this incident? Chris Cillizza documents it well:

 Wrote WaPo’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler in a piece giving Reid four Pinocchios for the claim:

Without seeing Romney’s taxes, we cannot definitively prove Reid  incorrect. But tax experts say his claim is highly improbable. Reid also has made no effort to explain why his unnamed source would be credible. So, in the absence of more information, it appears he has no basis to make his incendiary claim.

 Moreover, Reid holds a position of great authority in the U.S. Congress.  He should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy when making claims about political opponents.

But when CNN’s Dana Bash asked Reid whether he regretted this accusation, he responded in quite honestly an infuriating way:

“Romney didn’t win, did he?” 

Here is the video:

Let it sink in.

As Cillizza writes:

What Reid is saying is that it’s entirely immaterial whether what he said about Romney and his taxes was true. All that mattered was that Romney didn’t win.

Where to begin?

How about with the fact that this all-means-justify-the-ends logic — assuming the end is your desired one — is absolutely toxic for politics and, more importantly, democracy… If you can lie — or, at a minimum, mislead based on scant information or rumor — then anything is justified in pursuit of winning. This sort of “the winners make the rules” approach is part of the broader partisan problem facing Washington and the polarization afflicting the nation more broadly.  There is no trust between the two parties because they believe — and have some real justification for believing — that the other side will say and do literally anything to win.

Think about Reid’s statement in another context. I have two little kids.  What if I told my son, who has just started playing soccer, that his only aim was to win the game — no matter how he accomplished that goal.  After all, it’s not cheating unless someone can prove it, right?

Would anyone think that was either (a) good parenting or (b) broadly beneficial for society? No.  

Of course. It’s politics.  But this is also America.  Perhaps I take this more personally since my husband David and I worked on the Romney effort since 2005.  Plus, this was not a tweet or a rumor that he started around DC.  Instead he lied from the Senate floor.

Thank you, Harry Reid, for giving us the perfect example of why those of us who hate politics but love America find it hard to take our elected officials — or even campaigns — seriously.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Reprehensible. I had dreams of being a public servant, my father has been involved in local government for longer than I’ve been alive, but the current state of things is simply vile and I find myself unwilling to play in the mud.

  • No kidding. 🙁 Call me naive, but this is just sad.

  • Ima Lindatoo

    Yep. And Harry Reid didn’t even have to apologize when caught, like the rest usually do. End justifies the means. Say anything to get elected. When caught, apologize and move on….you still got done what you wanted to all along. We are seeing however an entire obvious method of saying anything to get elected. Worse when they know better, like the Republicans. They say all the right things to get elected, even though their record wasn’t supporting it, but folks say, “well he says he supports or doesn’t support that now” Then immediately, as we have seen in the past 3 elections, once they get elected, THEY FLIP.

    More important to be vetting the current crop of candidates NOW. You can’t play #AnybodyBut____ in the Primaries, because when folks learn what the candidate DOES support and want come the GE, they will lose, AGAIN, like before. Don’t repeat past mistakes. Don’t close your ears and sing just because you want to believe they will do the right thing. Right now there isn’t one candidate that doesn’t support amnesty. And worse, giving away our best jobs to the highest Special Interest bidder! I just learned, one supposed Conservative who wanted the largest increase of H1B Visas, 500%, grant work permits to all the 11 million illegals….his WIFE is part of the One World crew who wants to get rid of Canada and MEXICO borders! The HITS, or shall we say, LIES, just keep on coming.

  • rusty

    The people will still vote for the biggest liar. They do it all the time. Far too many vote for a check. It is how elections are won. Promise a check, a raise and you get their vote. Free cheese and butter will get you millions of votes. If only things had been left alone. The founding fathers knew what would happen if women got the vote. And they were right. When people could vote themselves a check, it was a no brainer where their vote went. Women will give all the money to the children and the poor. It should be you have to own property and pay taxes to vote. Thomas Jefferson knew this and he was right.

  • infidelphia

    That’s why Sarah Palin’s words of going to Washington with a ‘servant’s heart’ sounded so fresh, so poignant, as perhaps they always will

  • Beth Rogers

    Really, this is the fault of women getting the vote, not the “all that’s important is winning and getting to the top” mentality that Americans seem to think is the best way to do things?

  • rusty

    The women are not at fault for everything, but am I wrong say women believe in welfare, free school lunches and most do gooder programs that come along? The fact that someone has to pay for it matters not to the female voter. In the old days, it was known that you can’t have guns and butter. But now we are trying to have both. The welfare folks have no property, so no skin in the game, yet they get to vote for those will tax us to death. While they get a check for breathing.
    System sounds nice, but it has failure built into it.

  • RustbeltRick

    Romney either paid zero taxes, or he paid a laughably miniscule amount, which explains his stubborn reluctance to release returns that would have embarrassed him greatly. Reid pushed the tax issue, and Romney still refused to be transparent. I know it makes you feel better to make Reid the bad guy here, but you need to grapple with the fact that Romney failed to do something very basic to presidential campaigning, and it hurt him.

  • RustbeltRick

    I’m sure Nancy French will be thrilled to know that the “women shouldn’t vote” crowd follows her columns.

  • praxagora

    In which the ghostwriter for the Palins lectures others about truth

  • Beth Rogers

    Yes, you are wrong to say that only females believe in “do gooder” programs and that as a woman I fail to take into consideration who pays for those programs in deciding how to vote. To imply otherwise, says you think I am either simple minded or don’t play a part in paying into the system. Then again maybe that is your position and I shouldn’t worry my head about political issues and should vote as my husband instructs me.

  • rusty

    Beth, yes some women think different than others, but do you deny that most women vote democrat? That it is women who push for things like free breakfast and lunch for school kids? Bigger welfare checks are not a republican thing. So yes, there are always exceptions, but we are talking about the rule here. How do you feel about the trillions in debt being passed on to our children?

  • KellyKAFIR

    He is a disgusting and dispicable waste of human DNA. Interesting that he announced he won’t be seeking re-election just 10 days after he criticized Obama’s handling of the 2014 elections… fell…. riiiiiiight.

  • KellyKAFIR

    NO, you neaderathal… MOST women do not vote democrat. Sheesh, come out of the stone age moron.

  • Nick

    I can’t wait for the article about all the birthers in the Republican party who constantly put forth the lie about President Obama being born in Kenya… Or maybe that instance is not has sickening because it only serves to reinforce the narrative of this blog’s author’s worldviews.

  • Nick

    anybody else sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for Rusty to post “April Fool’s Day everybody! LOLZ!”?

  • rusty

    Kelly, you got a source for that silly comment? The women are the base of the democratic party.

  • Sagrav

    Your side didn’t seem to mind when Karl Rove Swift Boated John Kerry’s presidential ambitions into oblivion. Sorry if those of us on the left find it hard to shed a tear for poor Mitt Romney.

    At least Harry Reid’s fib had a kernel of truth to it. All of the information we have about Romney’s tax payments show that he pays a ridiculously low percentage of his income on taxes. We’d have more details, but he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with his tax returns.