Dirty Harry, dirty Democrats

Jeffrey T. Kuhner

Democrats are accusing Mitt Romney of being a criminal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has not paid taxes in 10 years. What is Mr. Reid’s source for this explosive allegation? He states it is an “anonymous” investor in Bain Capital.

Leave aside that a Bain investor could have no knowledge of Mr. Romney’s tax returns. Mr. Reid is practicing liberal scare tactics, smearing one’s opponent with outrageous accusations that lack even a scintilla of evidence. The political strategy is to paint Mr. Romney as a greedy, amoral, vulture capitalist who lacks the basic decency to be president. Unable to defend President Obama’s dismal record, the Democrats are determined to wage a scorched-earth campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Of course, Mr. Reid’s slanderous charge puts the GOP leader in a box. The only way it can be disproved is by having Mr. Romney release his tax returns beyond 2010 and 2011 — the only years he is willing to disclose. This would reward the Democrats’ dirty tactics, and cast Mr. Romney as weak, vacillating and defensive. Mr. Reid believes he has delivered a body blow, shifting the election narrative from the lousy Obama economy to Mr. Romney’s supposed tax fraud. The Nevada Democrat is a former boxer. He views himself — and is seen by the establishment media — as a congressional brawler willing to take the gloves off against GOP opponents.

Yet Mr. Reid is more than a pugnacious partisan. He is a political thug and ideological leftist. He has a long career of saying and doing anything to advance a progressive agenda. In the 2010 elections, Mr. Reid’s campaign for a fifth term insinuated that Republican challenger Sharron Angle was not only mentally unstable but a kook. For three years, his Senate has been unwilling to pass a budget. He has presided over trillion-dollar deficits while lecturing Mr. Romney on his record at Bain Capital. Every major Obama initiative — the economic stimulus, massive government expansion and higher taxes on the rich — has been fiercely supported by Mr. Reid. The result: We are on the verge of bankruptcy.

He boasts of his Mormon identity. But he has taken numerous positions that violate the basic social teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was instrumental in passing Obamacare. The health care overhaul imposes a coercive individual mandate. It also encodes the federal funding of abortion. Under the law, taxpayers must subsidize, through an abortion surcharge, state-sanctioned murder. Moreover, Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate compels religious institutions to provide employees with free birth control and abortion-inducing drugs. Hence, Mr. Reid wants pro-life, religious Americans — Catholics, evangelicals and Mormons — to violate their fundamental rights of conscience in favor of radical secularism.

He is now turning on a fellow Mormon. Every denomination has its Judases — people who are eager to betray their own in order to serve a ruling class. Mr. Reid has not just pushed major issues antithetical to the Mormon faith, such as homosexual rights, contraception and the slaughter of unborn babies. He is seeking to destroy Mr. Romney, preventing him from becoming the first Mormon president. Think about it: Mormons have been persecuted for much of their history, and they are finally becoming accepted as part of the mainstream. A Romney victory would be the culmination of this transformation — the ultimate acceptance of Mormons in American society. So what does Mr. Reid do? He lies on the most hypocritical grounds. He has never released any of his own tax returns. By his McCarthyite standards, Mr. Reid must also not have paid taxes, swindling the government of legally owed revenue. Like many Democrats, he worships at the altar of secular socialism, where the ends justify the means — including blatant dishonesty and character assassination. Mr. Reid’s liberalism trumps his Mormonism.

Dirty Democrats, however, are going even further. According to them, Mr. Romney is not just a criminal, but a murderer. Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting Mr. Obama’s re-election run by his former aide, Bill Burton, has released a TV ad claiming Mr. Romney is responsible for a woman’s death. The ad says that Joe Soptic, a worker at a GST Steel plant who lost his job and health benefits in 2001 when Bain closed it down, lacked the health insurance to properly care for his cancer-stricken wife. She eventually died in 2006. The implication is clear: Mr. Romney indirectly killed her. This is outrageously false. The ad neglects to mention that the late Mrs. Soptic had primary insurance through her own job until 2002 or 2003 — when she left because of a work-related injury. More importantly, how is Mr. Romney responsible for her getting cancer years after her husband was laid off? By this twisted logic, every CEO who lays off employees can be blamed for illnesses and deaths that occur years, even decades, later for failing to provide permanent health care. The ad is malicious and preposterous.

This relentless assault is designed to grind down Mr. Romney’s popular approval. It is working. He is unable to break away from Mr. Obama and consolidate a firm lead. Polls show the race is neck-and-neck. In key swing states, including Wisconsin and Virginia, Mr. Romney is actually losing. This is why he must return fire or else he may die from a thousand political cuts.

Mr. Romney should challenge Mr. Obama to a straight swap: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours: all of the tax returns in exchange for the president’s college records and transcripts. Let’s find out once and for all if Mr. Obama had low grades or benefited from affirmative action and foreign student aid. Is he a fraud and con man? Transparency should beget transparency. Even Dirty Harry might agree.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.