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My Rebuttal to Ralston’s Rebuttal to My Rebuttal to His Column

In response to my rebuttal of his column slamming the Taxpayer Protection Pledge on Friday, Jon Ralston wrote in his Flash e-newsletter yesterday:

“Muth’s entire, serpentine rebuttal is based on a false premise – that I called conservatives ‘simpletons,’ which I clearly did not. I said the tax pledge is for simpletons. Big difference. But easier to make it seem as if I derided the intellects of those who signed than to respond to my actual criticism.”

Now, I’m sure by “serpentine” Jon meant winding and twisting, not untrustworthy and cunning. But I beg to differ with Nevada’s Dean of Political Pundits on his “false premise” claim. What I actually wrote was that Jon had referred to “conservative freshman state Sen. Mike Roberson (R-Las Vegas)…as a ‘simpleton’ for signing the Pledge.” And here’s why I wrote that.

In his original column, Jon wrote the following:

“Roberson signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, which Citizen Outreach boss Chuck Muth pummels candidates for not embracing during campaigns. The pledge couldn’t be more simplistic, to ‘oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.’ Of course no one who has given any thought to policy or the real world would ever sign such a childish document.”

Clearly Jon is saying here that since he signed the Tax Pledge, Sen. Roberson hasn’t “given any thought to policy or the real world.” In other words, a simpleton. But to be fair, he did not expressly call Sen. Roberson a “simpleton” in this particular statement. However, he wasn’t done with Sen. Roberson yet. Here’s what Jon wrote just a couple paragraphs later:

“Once the discussion turned to taxing mining, Roberson eagerly told the Review-Journal’s Ben Spillman: ‘I pledged to my constituents that I would not raise taxes and I’m not going to do that. You can raise taxes in one area and offset them by lowering taxes in another area.’ And Muth immediately patted Roberson on the back, saying that would not violate the simpleton’s…pledge.”

Since Jon was clearly writing about Roberson, it sure seems to me he’s referring to Roberson as the “simpleton” in this sentence. However, it’s possible this was actually just a confusing, unintended, misplaced possessive.

So I’ll give Jon the benefit of the doubt and concede that by “simpleton” he was referring to people like you and me who don’t want their taxes raised and vote for people who promise not to raise them rather than talking about Sen. Roberson.

But here’s the bottom line: Whether Jon was talking about Sen. Roberson, sponsors of the Tax Pledge, advocates of the Tax Pledge, signers of the Tax Pledge, candidates who don’t sign the Tax Pledge but make a similar commitment, conservatives who support the Tax Pledge, or voters who vote for candidates who sign the Tax Pledge or make a similar commitment, Jon thinks Nevada’s government is too small and taxes are too low.

Some of us “simpletons” respectfully disagree.