Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid claims the Bain Capital staffer said.
Wow. That is as amazing as it is purely speculative at this point. And also as out of line as the Huma Abedin inquiry by some Republicans, Like that inquiry, it’s speculation looking for evidence. Why would Harry Reid say such a thing so flippantly?
Politics ain’t bean bag. Harry Reid did what politicians, political operatives and cable news stations do all the time. Submit information that can’t be documented to the court of public opinion. Information, though not always true, is always admissible as evidence. Because in the court of public opinion, there are no rules of evidence.
The only difference between the Abedin incident is that I do think it’s much closer to true. I, like Harry have no proof. But the carefully worded and often rotated two statements the Romney campaign make me think Reid is not far off.
First is Romney’s knee jerk procedure when the press gets close to a touchy subject. Somehow a very smart man becomes amazingly forgetful and unattached to his own life. In this case, he “couldn’t recall if there were years when he paid below the 13.9 percent tax rate that he paid in 2010.”
He’s also says,
“I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the Tax Code requires.”
Spin is editorial designed to be act like a cosmetic. To make something more beautiful. That means you cover up or downplay the bad. That also means that deciphering spin is not about what is actually said, but what’s not being said. What is still possibly true within the statement. Covered up. Hidden. Also spin leaves holes and blemishes in messages only when it works to the spinner’s advantage. Otherwise you leave story line embers that can create more message fires, conspiracies and people like me speculating. That is why Romney not directly denying the zero tax rate raises my eyebrows.
With that in mind, neither of those standard Romney responses address denying low or even 0% tax rates. In fact, it includes them.
If it is revealed that Romney paid very low or even zero percent in tax, he can say and not lie that he’s always maintained he doesn’t “pay more than are legally due.” Just the amount, through legally allowed, possibly exposes embarrassing Rube-Goldberg-like deductions that could be zero.
I think Reid and the Obama campaign either got a look at his taxes and know this for fact. But can’t show the documents themselves. Reid vocally floating the matter speculatively is strategic. And politically win/win.
First, the press loves a sexy speculative statement, so the story will carry through some news cycles. Though Romney has avoided this same issue in the past. Large national coverage means he will have to deal with growing public perception or the reality of his tax rates.
That will either put pressure to smoke out Romney to reveal his taxes and do massive public damage control. Or if he doesn’t, the Obama campaign can run on plausible (but possibly untrue) perception that he’s paid near zero taxes. A “myth” that will remain because he won’t produce documents to refute it.
And in the court of public opinion. Romney may be judged guilty. And further increase his image as a plutocrat with special rules Joe six-pack doesn’t have.
Reid was wrong for what he did. But he knew what he was doing. And what it will do.