(Note to visitors from Naked Capitalism: The link to this post advises you "Caution: foil ahead." Fair warning. But rest assured that this is the foiliest thing to appear here in a while, and that the shame-filled author pledges to keep these pages mostly aluminum-free henceforward.)
In our earlier post identifying Jon Huntsman
as the likeliest person to have informed Harry Reid about Romney's tax situation, I floated the idea that this whole brouhaha could be what spies -- well, some
spies -- call a "double bubble" operation.
This could all be a trick designed to embarrass the Democrats -- an exploding cigar, if you will. It's an old gambit: First you feed false (but seemingly credible) information to an opponent, who goes public with what he thinks he knows. Then you demonstrate, in a very public forum, that what your mark thinks he knows just ain't so. Hilarity ensues.
As readers pointed out, the best-known recent example of the double-bubble technique targeted Dan Rather. I talked about other examples in this 2007 post
. Usually, the double bubble involves forged documents which a journalist or other target is allowed to see but not copy.
But you don't need to go to that kind of trouble. One can create a mighty fine bubble through a simple telephone conversation -- especially if the guy blowing the bubble is someone as credible as Jon Huntsman.
So the question before us is this: Did a double bubble operation trick Reid into saying what he said? Did Team Romney employ this tactic in order to make the Democrats look bad when Mitt finally unveils the hidden tax forms?
Think about it.
Under normal circumstances, a release of those hidden tax returns
would create a week of bad headlines for the Mittster. No-one doubts that he has socked away a large chunk of change in shady offshore bank accounts. And the mysteriously monstrous IRA is just bizarre.
The only way to avoid those headlines would be to turn the guns around. At this moment, nobody is asking: "Did Romney use legal but questionable means to avoid paying his fair share?" Instead, everyone is asking: "Did Harry Reid lie
when he said that Romney paid no taxes whatsoever
If Romney can prove Reid a liar, then whatever goop lurks in those tax forms -- however unsettling, however icky -- will seem innocent. Team Romney will be able to control the narrative.
Not only that. Some conservatives (including at least one official Libertarian
) are using the Reid controversy to pressure Obama into releasing his college records. The best defense is, as they say, a good offense.
There's a lot of BS in the Libertarian's piece. Wayne Allen Root avers that Harry Reid said what he said at the behest of the White House, even though that presumption comes to us bereft of proof. Root doesn't even claim to have a source of inside information; apparently, a band of angels whispered in his ear.
Nevertheless, Root also raises some genuinely interesting points, ones that I myself have mentioned in previous posts.
After reminding us that no-one can recall seeing Barack Obama on campus during his student days at Columbia, Root asks:
The first question I’d ask is, if you had great grades, why would you seal your records? So let’s assume Obama got poor grades. Why not release the records? He’s president of the free world, for gosh sakes. He’s commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. Who’d care about some poor grades from three decades ago, right? So then what’s the problem? Doesn’t that make the media suspicious? Something doesn’t add up.
Secondly, if he had poor grades at Occidental, how did he get admitted to an Ivy League university in the first place? And if his grades at Columbia were awful, how’d he ever get into Harvard Law School? So again those grades must have been great, right? So why spend millions to keep them sealed?
Third, how did Obama pay for all these fancy schools without coming from a wealthy background? If he had student loans or scholarships, would he not have to maintain good grades?
Root thinks that Obama got into those schools because he wasn't really a citizen. That idea, of course, is crap. Root may not be a birther, but we're definitely in birther territory.
In a series of posts (start here
), I have posited another reason for Obama's remarkable college career. Even though many people will consider my theory irredeemably outre, I posit that Obama came from a CIA family; as a young man, he received help from "on high" in return for services rendered. I suspect that Obama's oddly unverifiable career as a Columbia student may have been a cover. Who knows what he was really getting up to during that time? Why else
would a very prestigious university (with an undeniable history
of close relationships with the intel community) keep a non-student student on the books?
Wayne Madsen picked up on this theory and wrote some long-ish pieces looking into a possible Agency connection. Unfortunately, many people mistrust Madsen because he too often relies on unnamed sources. (Besides, that guy is even weirder than I
am.) Perhaps I should be grateful that he did not cite my work.
A few conspiracy-crazed oddballs have also carried this theme into Deep Wackyland: Here's
an example and here's
another. Just goes to show ya: You can't mention the spooks without bringing on the kooks.
Of course, most righties won't touch the evidence pointing to a CIA connection. Y'see, conservatives just love love love
all conspiracy theories -- except
for any theories which target western intelligence agencies. Those
theories are Thoughtcrime.
(Incidentally, I would not be entirely surprised to learn that birtherism itself originated in a double bubble ploy directed against
the Republicans. Over the past few years, we've seen a surprising number of forged "Kenyan" birth certificates with Barack Obama's name on them. Forgeries don't make themselves. It's possible that conservatives did the dirty work -- but maybe the forgers were people who wanted to make conservatives look like dimwits.)