"Harry's just like a dog with a bone. He's not going to let go of this."

That's the president of the United States talking about the Senate majority leader, who was claiming publicly in 2012, everywhere he could, that Mitt Romney hadn't paid his taxes for years.

So say Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in "Double Down," their sequel to "Game Change," which contained that famous "Negro dialect" passage from Reid. The majority leader did not deny he said that, nor has he denied his source on the Mitt tax story was Jon Huntsman, Sr. (I have discovered that Reid contemporaneously told folks that the elder Huntsman was his source.)

Huntsman, Sr., can deny it all he wants. I have previously pointed out the financial ties that bind them. And I never thought Reid made it up out of whole cloth, even though he clearly was wrong to make like Joe McCarthy, and there's no evidence the charge was true.

Halperin's and Heilemann's reporting rings true to me, including the assertion Reid's "dislike for his fellow Mormon stretched back years, but his feelings had come to a boil during the nomination contest, when Romney spoke of self-deportation."

This, too, is what I heard at the time, that Romney's immigration stance sent Reid over the edge.

"Determined to take Mitt down," the authors write, "Reid had spent much of July (2012) harping on his taxes." They say Reid didn't care that Huntsman the Elder denied being the source at the time, either:

"The Nevadan didn’t care; he remembered the conversation well. More important, Reid was accomplishing his goal: flooding the media zone and forcing Romney to play defense."

The authors say Reid told the president's inner circle who his source was and they were "over the moon about the stunt; their boss expressed no disapproval of it, either."

Reid, as the authors reported in their first collaboration, had encouraged Obama to run for president in 2007, forever winning his friendship. "Watching Reid's antics now, the president chuckled. '"'Harry's just like a dog with a bone. He's not going to let go of this.'"

This is Harry Reid in a nutshell: Willing to be the attack dog, for the president or his caucus, publicly frothing and chewing up the opposition, be it Tea Party anarchists or Romney the tax evader, taking the counter-fire because -- I’ve said it before and I'll say it again -- he just doesn't care about his public image as most politicians do.

Step back for a moment, and you may recoil at the prospect of the man who once said he wanted to change the culture of Washington, elevate how the game was played egging on Reid in his McCarthyite tactics. But this is how the public, beatific face of Obama always contrasted with the private campaign side, where Atwaterian/Carvillian tactics were just fine.

And who better to carry them out on Romney's taxes than a willing pit bull named Harry Reid.


(Pic from netrightdaily.com)