A Stupid Way for Republicans to Attack a Democrat: IRS Troubles

IRS troubles could possibly indicate a character flaw, but not necessarily. Attacking someone for being behind in their taxes is not going to work well.

As you may have heard, Melissa Gilbert is running for the House of Representatives to represent a district in Michigan. Gilbert was the actress who in her younger days played Laura Ingalls Wilder in the TV series, “The Little House on the Prairie.” The TV series was based on a book series by the real Laura Ingalls Wilder with a lot of editorial assistance from her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Some think she was virtually her mother’s ghost writer.

Naturally, being a Hollywood actress, Gilbert identifies as a Democrat. This is somewhat ironic because  Rose Wilder Lane had definite opinions about the two political parties. She once wrote,

“… a group of sincere and ardent collectivists seized control of the Democratic Party, used it as a means of grasping Federal power, and enthusiastically, from motives which many of them regard as the highest idealism, began to make America over. The Democratic Party is now a political mechanism having a genuine political principle: national socialism.

The Republican Party remains a political mechanism with no political principle. It does not stand for American individualism. Its leaders continue to play the 70-year-old American professional sport of vote-getting, called politics.”

But Gilbert is pretty far from Rose Wilder Lane. She’s an actress who has made money playing a role in public. As such I assume she will make a good politician and please her corporate backers.

According to Newser.com, the Republicans are not really threatened by Gilbert. But just to make sure, they are leveling criticisms of her. Their main critique could backfire, in my opinion:

Despite her celebrity status—boosted by that of her actor husband, Timothy Busfield—Gilbert will have to defeat a GOP incumbent in a district described by the Detroit Free Press as a “Republican stronghold.”

She’ll also have to answer questions about a lien filed against her by the IRS because she owes $360,000 in back taxes, notes the newspaper. “The truth is I got caught in a perfect storm of financial difficulty, which is why I initiated a conversation with the IRS, told them I was having trouble and together we set up a payment plan,” Gilbert says in a statement. Republicans see it differently: She “can afford to have a stylist for her dog, but cannot pay her taxes,” says a spokesperson for opponent Mike Bishop. “Her values are out of whack with the district.”

I don’t know how much a dog stylist costs, but my guess is that it won’t make a dent in a $360,000 bill. If the IRS has agreed to a pay schedule, why should Gilbert feel obligated to pay it all at once?

In fact, why would any Republican care that a person is having IRS troubles? Who wants to take the side of the IRS right now? I think Republicans are making a mistake pushing this story. It makes her look more sympathetic to the average voter—even the average Republican.

I will change my evaluation the moment that Gilbert starts pushing for higher taxes. Since she is a Democrat, maybe the Republicans have decided to start criticizing her now because she is sure to promote the IRS in the future.

But I would have waited. People hate the IRS. Pointing out that Gilbert had IRS troubles only makes them pay attention to her.

Republicans should know this.