Conspiracy theorists are busying themselves with the notion that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is being somewhat less than truthful about the nature of the injuries he sustained at home during the holiday recess. Shrewd political actor that he is, perhaps Reid was planting a seed when he revealed to CNBC journalist John Harwood recently that his colleague, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), had at one point threatened to beat him up.
“It wasn’t long ago he came to me on the Senate floor, and he said, ‘What you just did, I’m going to come to the floor and kick the s*** out of you,’” Reid told Harwood. “And I said to him, ‘John, if I were in your position, I would do the same thing.’”
It tells you quite a bit about the man’s character that this cute story is about as collegial as Reid got over the course of this interview. The Nevada Democrat insisted that the GOP’s field of presidential candidates are all “losers,” and that the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), advocates on behalf of coal so often “he is a lump of coal.”
“I don’t mean to be mean spirited,” the Silver State senator caught himself. “He believes that coal is the salvation of the world. I don’t believe that.”
What a concession.
As for the conspiracy theory that it wasn’t exercise equipment, but a mafia enforcer that inflicted his crippling wounds – yes, that’s a real theory that’s out there – Reid insisted that it all stems from the fact that conservatives dislike him personally.
“Why in the world would I come up with a story that I got hurt in my own bathroom with my wife standing there?” Reid asked. “How could anyone say anything like that? And I think a lot of people, as I read, they kind of don’t like me as a person and I think that’s unfortunate.”
Well… he’s right. Only the most recent reason Reid gave his conservative critics to take their distaste for his policies into the realm of the personal was his admission that “of course” former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid his taxes. This was a rather stunning acknowledgment since he spent the better part of 2012 arguing that Romney had effectively paid nothing in taxes for 10 years. “Of course he paid taxes,” Reid told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. “What he didn’t do is let us see his tax returns.”
“I have no repentance,” the minority leader added when asked if he was sorry for having misled the nation. “Because it was an issue that was important.”
Well, the issue’s importance is debatable, but the effect Reid’s campaign of innuendo had certainly isn’t. When pressed on this matter last month by CNN’s Dana Bash who noted that the tactic of assassinating someone’s character by making unsupported accusations against them is essentially McCarthyism, Reid didn’t deny it. “Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid replied in an effort to justify his behavior.
“There is no trust between the two parties because they believe — and have some real justification for believing — that the other side will say and do literally anything to win,” The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza observed. “If you can lie — or, at a minimum, mislead based on scant information or rumor — then anything is justified in pursuit of winning.”
At the conclusion of Reid’s interview with Ramos, the senator insisted that there was only one way to prove whether or not he is lying. And that is for Romney to release his tax returns.
So, yes, Harry Reid is a despicable person, and anyone on the right who harbors a personal animus towards him has ample justification for that distaste. When the longtime senator leaves office in 2017, it’s unlikely he will be missed by his supposed friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle.