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Hugh Jackson: Finally, the opponent Romney deserves

Harry Reid can toss The Crazy. For the mainstream media, the genre includes Reid’s “war is lost” bit, calling George W. Bush a “loser” and a “liar” or describing former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan as a “political hack.”


The verdict is still out on who “won” the Iraq War (Iran?).

George W. Bush was the worst president in American history, left office with an approval rating to match, and is now the Republican Party’s answer to Voldemort — a figure so reviled no Republican dare speak his name. The lying bit goes without saying.

“Hack” was far too charitable a description of Greenspan, whose worship of Ayn Rand’s tedious soft porn is unseemly in an educated adult, and whose corresponding blind faith in magical, self-correcting free markets was as responsible as any other single factor for the economic implosion.

So Reid can get a pass on all that.

Other entries in the Reidian Gallery of the Bizarre are harder to excuse. On the aforementioned war front, in 2007 Reid declared he had no second thoughts about his 2002 vote to authorize Bush-Cheney military aggression, because it was so scary when Colin Powell brandished a tiny bottle of phony anthrax at the UN. Alas, Powell’s disgraceful performance happened four months after Reid voted to give the warmongers their blank check, so could not have influenced Reid’s deplorable pro-war vote.

Remember when Reid endorsed Bush’s White House counsel, Harriet Miers, to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court? The nomination was quickly withdrawn amid revelations that she was merely a Bush crony whose qualifications and intellect were even more pedestrian than those of Clarence Thomas.

And asked to name which Supreme Court justice he admires, Harry Reid, his party’s leader in the legislative branch charged in no small part with safeguarding the integrity of the judicial branch of government through the power to confirm justices, named … Antonin Fucking Scalia.

Yes, Harry’s a weirdo.

So when he said he heard from a guy who heard from a guy who said Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years, eh, Harry Reid, whatever.

Some of America’s finest news sources — Wonkette, Jon Stewart — have excoriated Reid for using the same disgusting tactics routinely deployed by Republicans and the right. Fair enough.

Yet there is something truly representative when our senior senator flings an allegation based on nothing more than Reid’s careful consultation with the Department of Harry Reid’s Asshole. It is a kerfuffle truly befitting of both Reid and Romney.

Romney is an avowed serial tax-avoider, going so far as to say that if he ever paid more taxes than legally required, he would not be qualified to be president. Reid’s third-hand rumor-mongering could not have been possible if Romney wasn’t so obviously a conniver who is always trying to get over on somebody; a moral cipher not only willing but eager to outsource your job and clean out your retirement account, all legally of course, and structured so as to confer tax advantages to Mitt Romney. (Case in point: Annual contributions to a tax-deferred individual retirement account are capped at $6,000. According to the one full tax return Romney has released, the Bain Capital quarter-billionaire has an IRA worth between $22 million and $101 million.)

Romney’s regard for the role secrecy is assigned in polite financial decorum is such that he frowns upon public discussion of wealth and income inequality, admonishing the hoi polloi to stop trafficking in the “politics of envy” and allow their betters (like Romney) to settle such matters in “quiet rooms.”

Release his tax returns? Romney won’t even release details of his tax policy.

But it was no surprise when the Tax Policy Center ran the math on the fundamentals of Romney’s tax plan — lower rates without losing federal revenue — and found that the only mathematically possible way to do it would cut taxes for the richest Americans while raising taxes on everyone else. Such a plan could only be proposed by a presidential candidate congenitally distant from and dismissive of actual living, breathing, non-rich humans. Who would believe that any presidential candidate would offer such a plan — unless of course the candidate was Romney?

Maybe Reid believes the rumor he heard. Or maybe he knows its total bullshit. Most likely he doesn’t care. He’s not on the ballot. The only people that he has to please are his Senate caucus colleagues (a task Reid fulfills by letting them do whatever/vote however they want with no repercussions; see Lieberman, Joseph).

Meantime, America is treated to one rich old Mormon with no credibility pitted against one ultrarich old Mormon with no credibility, in a battle to see who’s most creepy. With respect to morality, trustworthiness, leadership qualities and policy weight, Romney hasn’t had a foe so equally matching his own stature since Herman Cain.

For decades, wussy Democrats have whined that Republicans are mean. So it’s been hard not to enjoy watching Reid slap Romney around. And Reid certainly is having fun.

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, or the watering down of health reform and the stimulus, or any number of other assorted cave-ins, cop-outs and capitulations, an aggressive, feisty — and less wimpy — Reid might not have been as much fun. More admirable, though.

HUGH JACKSON blogs at The Las Vegas Gleaner ( and contributes to KSNV Channel 3.