Early in his political career Lyndon Johnson is famously said to have wanted to make an outrageous charge – allegedly involving sex and an animal – against a political opponent. His staff pushed back arguing that the allegation was untrue, but Johnson was unmoved. Of course the charge was untrue, Johnson said, he just wanted his opponent to have to deny it. I thought of the old LBJ story while watching the charge made last week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Over the weekend Reid was pummeled – properly so if you believe politics is always a gentlemen’s game played according to Marquis of Queensberry rules – for saying he’d been told that there were many years when Romney paid no income taxes. The Romney camp and the candidate himself immediately and vehemently denied the allegation with the GOP chairman going so far as to call Reid “a dirty liar”/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here. (AP file photo of Lyndon Baines Johnson)
Question: Why do we act so surprised when politicians sling mud? Isn't it as much in their nature as it's in a rattlesnake's nature to strike?