Welcome back to IVA’s Silly Season feature - an ongoing series covering and exposing a few or the many instances of the “Silly Season” phenomenon, examples of which certainly aren’t hard to find throughout the mainstream American political media.
Columnist Joseph Hurl of the Washington Times provided a great explanation of the Silly Season phenomenon in a recent column:
“We are, of course, in the “silly season.” This time, Congress has gone home, the Republican presidential candidate is off on an international trip, and the president is on the golf course.
And in this season, everyone says whatever they want — it doesn’t matter, no one will know if it’s true or not, and whatever is said will be ancient history by tomorrow morning.”
By the time you finished reading the above, it’s likely that one of two major political news stories have popped into your head – our nationwide obsession with the social values behind chicken sandwiches, or most recently – Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s July 31st accusation that ‘Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.‘
Of course, when Reid cited the “reputable” source for this accusation as a phone call from an “unnamed Bain Capital investor,” it was clear that during the peak of Silly Season, some choice political quotes were about to hit the fan… What follows is a quote by quote retelling as the Reid-Romney story makes its way through the Silly Season echo chamber. As a reminder, these are actual quotes from actual politicians and operatives. You’ve been warned:
Wednesday: August 1 - The mainstream media gets ahold of the story. When asked to respond, the Romney camp says they’ve: “Gone above and beyond the disclosure requirements by releasing two years of personal tax returns in addition to the hundreds of pages of personal financial disclosure documents he has provided to the FEC and made public.” Perfect. A useless response to a baseless claim.
Thursday: Reid continues his Romney taxes attack, this time on the Senate floor: ”The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years… Let him prove that he hasn’t paid taxes, because he hasn’t…” Impressive. In just 48 hours, Senator Reid has absolved himself of blame, referring to his own two day old comments as “the word” for the Congressional record – intentional communications jiu jitsu, or early onset Alzheimers?
Candidate Mitt Romney finally responds directly to Reid’s charges and says he has always paid his taxes as required by law: “Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up.”
Romney campaign surrogate Eric Fehnstrom of “etch-a-sketch” fame, decides that he’s had enough with traditional rhetoric, and goes outside the box - ”This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s… Have you no decency Mr. Reid?”
Weekend: Waiting merely five days to share his thoughts on the issue of the week, or simply until he was on a nationwide broadcast TV, RNC chair Reince Preibus flat out calls Reid a “dirty liar.”
Monday: Unsatisfied with merely doubling down, Preibus chooses to triple down on his Reid diss:
“There’s no triple down in blackjack, but I’ll triple down on my comments from yesterday,” Priebus said. “It’s just the truth. What else do you call somebody who goes onto the Senate floor and claims that someone hasn’t paid taxes in ten years, a complete lie, and uses his official office to do it?”
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, conspicuously missing from the fray, jumps in with a mindless defense of her colleague:
“Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact,” Pelosi told The Huffington Post in a Sunday interview. “Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.”
Or as @DanFosterNRO tweeted, “In a sophisticated logical gambit, Pelosi provides fourth-hand confirmation of Reid’s third-hand accusation.”
As the “dog days” of August approach, there’s no telling how long the Romney-Reid showdown could last. Will Reid take a step back and apologize? Will Romney release more than two years of tax returns? Will ‘taxers’ be the new ‘birthers’? Strap yourself in and see which side octuples down first before Labor Day!