Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! So many hands! Suzie? What is your answer?
"The Vice President acts as a temporary President when the real President is busy doing something, like overseas or on vacation."
I'm sorry, Suzie, that's wrong. How about you, Peter? You were always my favorite student.
"The Veep is the President's attack dog."
Okay, technically, "Suzie" was right. That is the official job description of the Veep. But in truth, the Veep is there to make statements on the President's behalf while keeping the Prez in the clear. The Veep can make accusations or say spiteful things and they get heavy duty press because, well, he's the Veep. And the Prez will chuckle and say, "Oh, he shouldn't have said that." After all, people don't vote for the Veep, he's just a running mate. People vote for the Prez.
In many ways, this is what makes me so suspicious about Romney's Presidential campaign. He hasn't chosen a Veep yet. There are several choices that would boost his standing among key demographics (Rubio for the Hispanic vote, Christie for the arch-conservative nutballs), bringing in votes by association without him having to go off-message to hammer Obama. Romney is unlikely to select a candidate before the R's convention. Time is on his side, like Romney doesn't need a Veep to sell himself. Which means Romney is that confident of winning the election
(Okay, there's another possibility. The R's don't have a lot of luck picking good Veeps. They usually turn out to be powder kegs. Dan Quayle replaced Gerald Ford as the goto for political jokes. Dick Cheney had his own problems. And who can forget aaaaaaaaall the quotes and stuff they dug up on Sarah Palin? It's possible that Romney is waiting so long because it will minimize the time reporters have to dig into his background and they won't come up with any dirt until after the election. No matter what, time still seems to be on Romney's side.)
Romney is running without an attack dog. Obama already has one, Harry Reid, the current Veep. Reid has a problem knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet -- he told John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, the authors of the book Game Change, that he believed Obama could become President because he's a "light-skinned" black "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Reid has been doing his job so far. I haven't really commented on anything because Reid is just noise to me. He's there to be a mouthpiece and that's it. And so far, he has said nothing recently that really sets me off. He's taken shots at Romney, at Obama's foes...in other words, SOP. Nothing to see here.
That changed a few days ago. Reid went over the line, and he needs to be hammered for it.
The whole thing concerns how the election is shaping up. Obama's campaign has been trying to paint Romney as a patron saint of the 1%. More than any other election I can think of, this is shaping up into class warfare. And part of it has to do with Romney's money. Romney has been attacked for using "secret" accounts overseas (if they're so secret, how does everybody know about them?) to pay less in taxes. This conflicts with the natural human impulse to pay as little taxes as possible. I mean, have you seen how much money government wastes? I know that if I had legal ways to reduce the tax I spend, I'd sure as hell do it, too.
The current drum the D's are beating is getting Romney to release his tax returns for the last ten years. This is actually a pretty interesting move -- it was Romney's father in law, back when he was running for Governor of Michigan, who started the "Let me show you my tax returns!" nonsense. Now, Romney has released them from last year, and nothing to them. No surprise. Romney has had Presidential ambitions for a looooooooong time now, so he's not going to play fast and loose with his tax returns for fear of him being nailed as a tax dodger. If there's anything in Romney's history that's a dry hole, it's that. Asking to see the previous ten years isn't going to do anything but annoy Romney. I mean, seriously -- his family hushed up the death of his sister in law from a botched illegal abortion procedure, and the D's are going after his tax returns? There are so many better ways to get to him than that.
"Let's see the tax returns!" is the chant being sung by people in Congress hoping and praying that no one demands the same of them. Once again, it was just noise, I wasn't paying attention to it for the reasons I described above.
And then, Reid opened his big, fat, stupid mouth.
Last week, Reid told the Huffington Post ("We tell you what to think so you don't have to!") that an unnamed Bain Capital investor told him Romney "didn't pay taxes for 10 years."
Let's think about that. He has no evidence. He says someone told him this. That's Internet drama generating, not truth. And he's stating it as a fact to a national website that, for some reason, has people hanging on its every word.
Realizing that maaaaaaaaaaaybe some people would call that, "lying," Reid continued, "Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain. But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?" Legally, what he's doing is speculating, not accusing, so Reid is safe from libel/slander.
(And a special FUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!!!! to HuffPo for even printing that bullshit. Nice fact checking department you got there, you actually make the Enquirer look like Mencken. Then again, I expect this stupidity from a news aggregator site that fires one of its staffers for plagiarism.)
The backlash started, and some D's went into spin control. Among them are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Jack Daniels). She went on HuffPo to say that Reid's statement "is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact." Reading that made my jaw drop. She's not addressing whether or not what Reid said was true, just that it was true someone told him, so he should be allowed to skate. Hey, guess what?!? Someone on the coder channel once told me Kylie Minogue wants to marry me and have my children! Maybe he wasn't joking after all, he was actually telling the truth! Awesome!
Jon Stewart on Comedy Central has become the conscience of the liberal movement, and he had this to say about Reid's allegation -- "Here's a rule of thumb -- if you have to follow your claim with the words, 'I don't know if that's true,' then shut up."
Stewart further compared Reid to another big mouth, Donald Trump. "He might as well put a dead cocker spaniel on his head and start yelling about birth certificates."
Everyone expects politicians to talk smack during the election. But when you use a legal dodge to say something like that and get away with it, that's not Politics As Usual. That is Wrong. And in a move that surprised me, attacking Reid for doing this is getting bi-partisan support. It's not every day the D's and R's agree on something, and they are agreeing Reid is being an asshole.
Of course, it's not like they needed someone to tell them that.