Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Harry Reid, Steward of Propriety

I had planned to layoff the political commentary momentarily to turn to a diversionary discourse on media, my other favorite topic. But I have to hold off - for a little while at least - because I would like to take a moment to discuss the behavior of the Senate Majority Leader, one third of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi stool.

Harry has been in the news lately because he has intimated that those who disagree with the President are doing so because of his color. This is not the first time that Harry has used race to diminish or criticize his political opponents and he often resorts to fables to batter those with whom he disagrees. His trip to the Senate floor to claim that Mitt Romney had failed to pay income taxes for ten years is perhaps the most memorable. Completely unsubstantiated and factually false. Then, there was the great story Harry told about taking a call from a guy named Tommy (Harry didn't want to give his last name for fear of retribution) who was calling for a "friend" who was an illegal immigrant and din't want to be deported. He refers to the Tea Party as modern day anarchists, echoing uncannily the ridiculous characterization by Chris Matthews of Sen Ted Cruz as a terrorist. And, lastly, Harry was among the most vociferous and ugly critics of George Bush, calling him a liar, inaccurately reporting the number of job gains during his administration as well as his accumulation of debt.

Not only does Harry diminish the position of majority leader, but he really shouldn't be serving in the Senate. He was extremely vulnerable during the last election cycle, but Republicans shot themselves in the foot by running Sharon Engle against him. It's not that her politics were unattractive or that she didn't represent a clear distinction with Harry, but she turned out to be a dreadful candidate who could not ignite sufficient enthusiasm inside and outside the state to defeat an incumbent with unbreakable ties to powerful union interests in Nevada.

It's important, I think, for all but die hard Democrats to really think about this level of leadership that the party has placed atop its ranks: Obama, Reid, Pelosi. Each has little reservation about casting the most personal aspersions against their opponents, but these people are historically committed leftwing zealots. Is it conceivable that a Scoop Jackson, Jack Kennedy or Harry Truman would find a place in today's Democratic Party? Don't think so.

When someone mentions the name "Harry", it is difficult not to think of President Truman. While he had his faults, he was literally the last of a breed. Born into a world with few creature comforts, he commanded an artillery battery in WW1 and had a trying time finding his "place" in the world. Though simple in so many ways, he found himself under the sway of a powerful Democratic political boss in Missouri who shepherded his career. When he succeeded FDR after his death, however, he possessed the fortitude to end WW2 decisively and controversially. Did he make mistakes in Korea? Undeniably. But this "Harry" is separated by our "Harry" by so much more than the distance of time. Reid is a creature of party and exhibits little inclination to depart from party doctrine for the sake of the country. He has little problem participating in a climate crisis conference with his ideological bud, Al Gore, but convene a conference on IRS targeting? Phony! Demand that we get answers on the events of 9/11/12? Nothing to see here!

We can complain endlessly about Obama, Valerie Jarratt, and David Axelrod. But Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are the real legislative enablers of the Obama doctrine, and we must make every effort to neutralize their authority by insuring they are minority rather than majority leaders because it's clear that for whatever reason their constituents are unlikely to replace them.

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