As the Trump government shutdown tantrum slogs along for a sixteenth day, it’s time to take a fond look back at a leader who said what he meant and meant what he said, Harry Reid. And Harry knows what he’s talking about unlike a certain Insult Comedian about whom Reid had this to say:
“Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience.” There was a hint of grudging respect in Reid’s tone, which he seemed to catch and correct. “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve had some bad ones, and there’s not even a close second to him.” He added: “He’ll lie. He’ll cheat. You can’t reason with him.” Once more, a hint of wonder crept into his voice, as if he was describing a rogue beast on the loose in a jungle that Reid knows well.
That’s one of many money quotes from Mark Leibovich’s marvelous profile in the Failing NYT Magazine. It gives me nothing to Leibobitch about. I should apologize for that tortured pun but that part of the governments is shut, unlike the president’s* stupid gob.
Back when many Democrats were too polite to play political hardball, Harry Reid was slugging it out on our behalf. He was one of the few public officials to sound the alarm on Kremlingate when it *could* have made a difference. Chinless Mitch and his ilk were too busy dreaming about huge tax cuts and wingnut judges to do their patriotic duty and call out Russian interference with the 2016 election. I refuse to call it meddling: that sounds like something a Sixties sitcom mother-in-law would do. Inflicting Trump on the nation is a bit worse than Bewitched’s Endora calling her hapless son-in-law Derwood or Dolphin. Now that’s meddling.
Harry Reid’s main political legacy is his leadership of the Nevada Democratic party. Nevada was once a deeply red state but under Harry’s guidance Nevada Democrats have gone from strength to strength. Nevada’s slow and steady transformation from red to purple to blue was completed in November. It’s a road map that other state parties should emulate but it requires patience in an impatient world.
There’s some sad news in the Leibovich profile:
Reid, who is 79, does not have long to live. I hate to be so abrupt about this, but Reid probably would not mind. In May, he went in for a colonoscopy, the results of which caused concern among his doctors. This led to an M.R.I. that turned up a lesion on Reid’s pancreas: cancer. Reid’s subdued and slightly cold manner, and aggressive anticharisma, have always made him an admirably blunt assessor of situations, including, now, his own: “As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead.”
Bluntness thy name is Harry Reid. It’s a pity that his health obliged him to retire right before his perfect foe/foil was elected to the White House. While Chuck Schumer is inclined to treat his opponents with kid gloves, Harry always strapped on his boxing gloves as you can see in this blast from the recent past:
In 2016, he dismissed Trump as “a big fat guy” who “didn’t win many fights.”
That’s why I’m still wild about Harry. The last word goes to Eubie Blake and Peggy Lee: