Paul Greenberg

Still, you have to admire the twist Harry Reid has given his latest smear job. He says the rumor about Mr. Romney and his taxes came not from just a "credible" source, but an "extremely credible source." Also an extremely anonymous one, but no matter. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain -- if there is one.

It's all part of a not-so-grand American tradition that goes back to the presidential election of 1800, when both Jefferson and Adams attracted the support of smear artists eager to tar the other. Now no presidential election would be complete without a flurry of unfounded accusations.

When cornered, the accuser can just repeat the charge, or even elaborate on it. By now Sen. Reid has claimed "a number of people" as sources. It will not surprise Gentle Reader to learn that they, too, are anonymous. It's good to see American traditions continued. But not this one.

Naturally, the senator has consistently declined to release his own income tax returns over the years. That's only for lesser creatures, like Republican presidential candidates.

This is a game anyone can play. Like so:

I have been told -- and by an extremely credible source, too -- that Sen. Reid closely coordinated this smear with Barack Obama and the rest of the bunch now occupying the White House. A "number of people" have told me the same thing.

If the senator denies it, it would be easy enough to resolve the matter: Just have him release the transcripts of his every communication with all the president's men -- and women, too, over the past decade. Just as he's said that all Mitt Romney has to do to clear up this matter of his income taxes is release the last five, 10, or maybe 20 years of his tax records. (What, not his father's, too?)

Let the senator from the casino state also prove that he's stopped beating his wife.

There. See how easy it is? All it takes is a little imagination and sheer nerve.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.