Let’s play Imagine an Alternative Universe . Suppose that Rep. Paul Ryan had said that Joe Biden had “sullied the religion that he and I share.” How many days of the news cycle do you suppose would be dominated by the story? How many Democrats and members of the press would declare that this kind of religious provocation/bigotry rendered Mr. Ryan unfit for high office? Please submit your estimates to my inbox.
It would be a disgraceful smear even if Mr. Romney were an ordinary politician. He has his faults, of course, but it happens that he has a truly unusual and admirable history of personally helping the less fortunate. His personal commitment to helping others would be exemplary in a clergyman. It’s almost unheard of among politicians. We learned last week that Mr. Romney donated 29 percent of his income to charity in 2011, and that, over the course of the past 20 years, he has donated an average of 13.5 percent of his income — well over the 10 percent tithe that many great faiths suggest.
How much does Mr. Reid donate? We don’t know because he chooses to keep his tax returns private. We do know, however, that between 2000 and 2004, Mr. Obama donated about 1 percent to charity (he bumped it up to 5 percent in 2005 and to 22 percent last year).
“Lunch Bucket Joe” Biden — champion of the middle class — donated an average of $369 per year for the 10 years prior to 2008, or .03 percent of his income.
Not only has Romney been extremely charitable with his money, he has devoted his time to those (many in his church, some not) who were facing crises. He spent many hours with a 14-year-old cancer victim in the hospital. He saved a family of four from drowning when their boat capsized. When two teenagers in a Boston family were injured in a car accident, the entire Romney family showed up on Christmas Eve bearing large boxes of gifts, and a generous check for the parents. Romney also offered to pay for the boys’ college educations when they recovered. He closed Bain’s offices to search for the missing daughter of a colleague. These are but some of the many stories of personal generosity and remarkable kindness detailed in “The Real Romney” by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, two Boston Globe reporters. Has Mr. Reid ever done anything comparable?
Since Sen. Reid has directed personal slanders against Romney, it’s worth noting that Mr. Romney earned his fortune by working in the private sector. Mr. Reid too is a wealthy man, with an estimated net worth between $3 and $10 million. Yet as Betsy Woodruff documents in National Review, he has acquired all of it while serving in public office, and while earning a salary of $193,400 or less. “I did a very good job investing,” he explained in 2010. If you believe that, Mr. Reid has a bridge to sell you. Really. In 2006, Reid earmarked $18 million to build a bridge across the Colorado River, between Laughlin, Nev. and Bullhead City, Ariz., a project, Woodruff reports, “that wasn’t a priority for either state’s transportation agency.” Reid happened to own 160 acres of nearby land, whose value appreciated considerably after the project was approved.
Something is sullied here, but it isn’t Romney.