Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic senate majority leader, has just done
the Republican Party a very big favor. His desperate charge that Mitt
Romney hasn't paid taxes is an obvious ploy to try to force the GOP
presidential nominee to release 10 years of back tax returns (Mr.
Romney has already released his most recent) so that the Obama
campaign might try to use them to attack Mr. Romney and thus deflect
public attention from the Obama administration's dismal first term.
Even if he didn't succeed in forcing Mr. Romney to disclose more tax
returns, Mr. Reid obviously intended to create doubt in some voters'
minds about Mr Romney. Some argue that was his primary intention.
No matter that Mr. Reid won't release his own tax returns, nor that Mr.
Obama won't release his own college records nor his records as an Ilinois
state senator. No matter that Mr. Reid himself is the center of numerous
controversies about his investments, personal finances, mendacity and
misuse of his office.
But the reason Harry Reid has done the GOP a big favor, particularly all
those Republican challengers to Democratic-held senate seats, is that he has
now created himself as the number one visible reason for American voters to
elect a Republican U.S. senate this November. Harry Reid is behaving so
badly and irresponsibly that one almost misses the time when Nancy Pelosi
spoke for her party. (I said "almost.") This is only the latest example of his
mismanagement of the high office he holds. The senate has not, as required
by law, passed a budget in three years. He refused to allow bills passed by the
U.S. house to even have a vote in the senate. He has falsely described his
opponents for years. He is a profound embarrassment to his state, his
country and to the important institution he is supposed to lead. Simply put,
Harry Reid is the worst senate majority leader in modern American history.
Democrats running for U.S. house and senate seats desperately need the old
axiom "all politics is local" to be true this year. If the 2012 elections are
allowed to "go national" (as they did in 2010 when Democrats lost the U.S.
house by a large margin and had their U.S. senate majority much reduced),
it would be catastrophic for many Democratic candidates, some of whom are
already in electoral difficulty. The prolonged economic crisis, coupled with
chronic high unemployment, is not helping Democrats in 2012. Nor is the
prospect of more than a trillion dollar deficit coming soon from the immensely
unpopular Obamacare, the hot button issue that led to Democratic defeat in
2010) helping either. If you add the unpleasant face of Harry Reid to the mix,
and now he has made this inevitable, you have the formula for an historic
rejection, not just of an incumbent president, but of a whole party as well.
The political ads featuring the mean-spirited Mr. Reid, and adaptable to
virtually every close U.S. senate race this year, almost make themselves.
The races for control of the Congress are, of course, tied to the presidential
contest, but voters have historically kept the elections of the two branches
somewhat apart. To defeat an incumbent local congressman or senator
usually takes more than one's preference for president. As I said, the key to the
"nationalization" of the 2010 elections was voter antipathy to Obamacare.
Obamacare is still with us, but now what stands in the way of its repeal (and
fixing most everything else) is the Democratic-controlled U.S. senate and Harry
Reid. And, of course, President Obama. But as for voters worrying more about
an obvious spurious allegation about Mr. Romney not paying taxes, or their
antipathy to Obamacare and Mr Obama's failed administration, it isn't even close.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.