The man is a national and institutional disgrace (Reid, not Williamson, lest their was some understandable confusion). He gets away not only with lies but with slander. The political press generally agrees with his ends, and so they can muster only so much outrage about his means. Republicans get in trouble for far milder examples of dishonesty (real or alleged) because the press is horrified by Republican ends and they consider it their job to nitpick any statements that might persuade people Republicans are right. Democrats are held to a lower standard because the press is confident their heart is in the right place. Truth-squadding takes passion, and the mainstream media’s passion only goes in one direction.
Reid is often compared to Joe Biden, another politician who benefits from very low expectations. But the comparison has problems. No one doubts the sincerity of Joe’s craziness. No one thinks he’s the political equivalent of Norm Crosby, deliberately malapropping his way through life. There’s no upside for Joe Biden in telling a guy in a wheelchair to stand up and take a bow. Biden’s not crazy like a fox, he’s crazy like the dude who sits next to you on the bus with a snorkel in his mouth and every single page in The Catcher in the Rye “highlighted” with a black sharpie. Reid is different. Everyone understands that he is deliberately lying. The man reads his lies from prepared texts. You can’t read from a script and then claim you misspoke.
But this is where the Reid-Biden comparison holds up: It’s never a surprise. Biden could tell Charlie Rose that we need to dismantle our nuclear program because vests have no sleeves and everyone would say “Oh, that Joe!” (Great title for a Biden-themed sitcom, by the way). Reid could go out on the Senate floor and say that Charles Koch eats the adrenal glands of orphans to stay young, and the folks at Morning Joe would roll their eyes, criticize him a little, and then quickly segue into a discussion of Reid’s strategy. “Reid is trying to change the subject . . . ” “Reid is providing cover for the White House . . . ” Etc. There’s no actual outrage or disgust. “Why make a big deal, it’s only Harry Reid?” is implicitly the response from much of the press corps when you point out the man is a disgrace. Never mind that Reid is the second most powerful Democrat in the country and the leader of an institution that is supposed to conduct itself with some dignity, at least according to the brochure.