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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Since When do Republicans Get to Complain About Lying?

'No Crybabies' sign
It's ugly. It's dishonest. It's quintessentially Republican. So why do conservatives hate it? Because they're on the receiving end of their own brand of politics for a change.

Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Sen. Harry Reid caused a stir this week when he told an interviewer that Mitt Romney hasn't released more of his tax returns because "he didn't pay taxes for 10 years." On Wednesday, Reid doubled down on the charge.

In an interview published Tuesday, Reid said an investor in Bain Capital, the former private equity firm of the Republican presidential candidate, told him in a phone call that Romney had paid zero taxes.

"Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," Reid told the Huffington Post, declining to identify his source. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?"

Whether this is true or not is a matter for debate and the pedigree of the claim ("this one guy told me this one thing this one time") strongly suggests it's not all that true. This all has the strong scent of horsecrap (and not Olympic horse dancer Rafalca's horsecrap, which I'm assured smells like roses) -- which means it also smells a lot like a Republican talking point.

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Mitt Romney is, after all, the candidate whose entire campaign consists of a list of lies much, much longer than your arm. One of Mitt's most recent lies was also one of his most shameful; that the Aurora theater shooter broke the law to get his weapons. He didn't. Romney was covering for the gun industry by lying about a mass murder -- and in doing so, arguably increasing the likelihood of future massacres. This is a conscienceless man.

Nevertheless, National Review's Jim Geraghty asks -- nay, demands! -- that independent fact-checkers look into Reid's claim, but there's the question of how. No one at Annenberg or PolitiFact has access to Mitt Romney's tax records, so they're pretty much helpless here. The only way to prove Reid wrong is to take a look at those tax records Mitt Romney refuses to release.

What gets me about this is that Republican media feels they have the right to complain about it. I know, this is the party with several decks of victim cards forever at the ready, but still... You'd think there was some limit to the amount of hypocrisy they'd allow themselves. And after the birtherism, the accusations of Marxism and Nazism, the "secret Muslim terrorist sleeper agent" conspiracy theorizing -- in short, the entire rightwing anti-Obama messaging industry -- you'd think they'd be a little more prepared to defend themselves from the same post-truth politics they've unleashed on the nation. Were they foolish enough to introduce their poison into the American political system without first developing an antidote?

That would seem to be the case.

None of this is to say that Reid is justified in doing this -- although I have to admit to enjoying the "just desserts" aspect of the whole thing. But I am saying that Republicans have no right to complain about it. None at all. When you've decided the truth is irrelevant to winning, you don't get to complain that your opponent is being dishonest. In other words, don't dish it out if you can't take it.

And quit whining about being hoist by your own petard.

-Wisco

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