The Right Opinion
Harry the Weasel
To paraphrase an old saying, if you're going to accuse someone else of being a weasel, it's probably not a good idea if you're a major weasel yourself. Senator Harry Reid called attention to himself last week, accusing Mitt Romney of not having paid taxes for 10 years. The basis of his allegations? Depending on the day of the week, it was one person: "As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years...," or more than one: "I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination," Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. "I have had a number of people tell me that." Asked to elaborate, Reid declined. "No, that's the best you're going to get from me," he said.
Now, in a world where journalistic integrity was anything other than the oxymoron it has become, Mr. Reed would have been vilified for making unsubstantiated allegations of the "when did you stop beating your wife" variety. Not by Mitt Romney, but by a national press corps that ought to occasionally realize how tragically transparent their roles as useful idiot water-carriers for the left have become.
But as I've said before, there's an election to win for Barack Obama, and anything that can divert the conversation away from the latest round of stinko job numbers -- numbers New York Post columnist John Crudele has ridiculed as completely bogus -- then that is all that matters. The Chick-fil-A story is pretty much played out, and this qualifies as a viable substitute.
Yet if Mr. Reid insists on implying that Mitt is dishonest, I think it's time someone in the media, small as my circle of influence is, returned the favor. Harry, you see, is one of the quintessential examples of someone to whom the expression, "he came to Washington to do good, but ended up staying to do very well" so aptly applies. Harry's been a Senator for 26 years, yet even as he has worked "tirelessly for the little guy" he has amassed quite a bit of dough for himself. Not that we'll ever know exactly how much. Why? Try this fromMcClatchy newspapers:
"The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives (that would be Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, respectively) are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records."
Pot meet kettle. But we're just warming up. A story published in the LA Times on June 23, 2003, had a rather unflattering title: "In Nevada, the Name to Know is Reid." Why unflattering? From the article:
"As he introduced it, Nevada's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Harry Reid, assured colleagues that his bill was a bipartisan measure to protect the environment and help the economy in America's fastest-growing state."
"What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons' and son-in-law's firms, federal lobbyist reports show." (italic mine)
The article continues:
"The Clark County land bill, which was approved in a late-night session just before Congress recessed in October, reflects a new twist in an old game: These days, when corporations and other interests want to cement a vital relationship with someone in Congress, they're likely to reach out to hire a member of the family."
"Reid said he supported the bill because it was good for Nevada -- and not because it helped his family's clients. And when it comes to lobbying relatives, he said, he has plenty of company."
"'Lots of people have children, wives and stuff that work back here,'" he said. "'It is not as if a lot of cash is changing hands.'"
As with so many Democrats, parsing the language is critical. The key phrase here is "not a lot of cash." I'm betting most people think a million bucks -- give or take an additional hundred grand -- is an amount a tad bigger than that. Oddly enough, that's exactly what Harry made six years ago on a real estate deal. What kind of deal? From a Newsmax story, dated Oct. 11, 2006:
"Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show."
"In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews."
Who's the so-called friend? "The Nevada Democrat's deal was engineered by Jay Brown, a longtime friend and former casino lawyer whose name surfaced in a major political bribery trial this summer and in other prior organized crime investigations."
The story goes on to deal with a lot of details, most of which demonstrate what a weasel Harry truly is. But for me, the kicker is this line: "Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview last week."
Since Harry's a Democrat, that was pretty much the end of it -- until now. Apparently Mr. Reid remains unchastened about doling out favors to relatives. Last Friday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a story entitled "Costs, conflicts arise in Reid push for green power." It seems Harry is pushing Nevada's primary electricity provider, NV Energy, to purchase more "green energy," even though the company exceeded its state-imposed green-energy requirement of 15 percent, by purchasing 16.7 percent of its power from renewable sources.
Columnist Steve Sibelius explains why NV Energy wants to limit such green power purchases. "State law mandates NV Energy buy power as cheaply as possible, except when it's required to buy more-expensive green energy to meet state-mandated quotas. But the more green energy you buy, the higher bills climb."
What Harry's latest scheme? "Now Reid is pushing for a Chinese company he played a key role in recruiting to Nevada, ENN Mojave Energy LLC. The company plans a billion-dollar solar energy manufacturing and generating plant near Laughlin, but an ambitious development schedule is being threatened by a lack of green power customers."
Why would Harry do that? "There's another factor, however, one more personal to Reid: His son, Rory Reid, is one of the attorneys for the ENN Mojave Energy project. A Reid spokeswoman said the senator did not suggest Reid's firm - Lionel, Sawyer & Collins - to ENN, nor has the elder Reid spoken to this son about the deal. (Reid imposed a strict ban on family members lobbying his office in 2003 after the Los Angeles Times asked him about lobbying by three of his four sons.)"
"But success for ENN in finding customers helps Rory Reid, and its failure could cost him a client. It's an undeniable conflict that Harry Reid should keep in mind as he twists arms at the PUC and NV Energy, lest he earn himself an ethics complaint."
For my money, Harry Reid is a walking, talking ethics complaint. But I'll tell you something a bit out of left field. You know who I blame the most for Harry's latest spew? George W. Bush. Why? Again to the quotes. Harry in 2007:
"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and -- you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows -- (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," said Reid. For the record Reid made this statement before the additional troops that constituted the surge had arrived in Iraq.
The White House's reaction? Reid's statement was "disturbing."
A real president -- as opposed to one who bought into his father's disastrous idea that never speaking ill about one's ideological adversaries is all-important -- would have held a press conference the very next day, and hammered the hack from Nevada for giving aid and comfort to the enemy while American sons and daughters remained in harm's way. Five head-snapping words at the end would have tied it up in a neat little package:
How dare you, Mr. Reid?
They don't call it the presidential bully pulpit for nothing. And if there was ever an execrable human being who should have been bullied -- into likely irrelevancy -- Mr. Reid goes right to the top of the list. Sadly, Bush let Harry off the hook.
One more thing. If Harry wants to look at someone who's in violation of the law, the nearest mirror should do the trick. Americans need to ask themselves which is more important, Mitt Romney's missing tax returns -- or the Senate's missing budget? The Senate Majority Leader has refused to pass one in more than three years, abandoning his primary responsibility as a leader, and violating the Constitution in the process. Meanwhile, annual deficits continue to explode above the trillion dollar marks and the national debt is pushing a nose-bleeding $16 trillion.
In other words, it's still all about the economy, no matter how hard weasels like Harry -- along with his fellow weasels in mainstream media -- try to divert our attention. It's not going to happen.