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Harry Reid on liars, hacks and partisans

reidonparitsans.JPGPeople often talk about how this or that politician doesn't like to stick to the script. But usually, that means this or that politician talks a lot in an ostentatiously folksy manner. That's not true for Harry Reid, who both doesn't talk very much and says routinely interesting things.

“I’m just who I am, O.K.?” Reid told me before Christmas. “I didn’t take lessons on how to speak on television, and I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about who I am. I don’t like to read stuff about me, but I’ve become accustomed to it: you know, ‘Reid misspeaks.’ I’d rather people were saying, Oh, that guy is a golden-tongued devil.” He paused. “I have no regret over calling Greenspan a political hack. Because he was. The things you heard me say about George Bush? You never heard me apologize about any of them. Because he was. What was I supposed to say? I called him a liar twice. Because he lied to me twice.”

And this is some serious real talk about the Senate:

[Reid] said he had been shocked by the behavior of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, since returning from his failed bid for the presidency. “My disappointment — no, that’s the wrong word; I’ll try to find a better word. My amazement has been John McCain. I thought he’d turn out to be a statesman, work for things. He’s against everything. He’s against everything! He didn’t used to be against everything.”

He said he thought the White House erred in trying to win the support of Olympia Snowe, the Republican senator from Maine, for a health care compromise. “As I look back it was a waste of time dealing with her,” he said, “because she had no intention of ever working anything out.” And while making clear that he was not complaining, he said Obama may have been asking for too much in his first year. “I personally wish that Obama had a smaller agenda,” he said. “It would be less work.”

Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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"It would be less work?" Oh, you poor thing.

Posted by: redscott | January 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid is a very unappreciated public servant, which isn't to say that I would agree with him on every particular issue, but having an intelligent, soft-spoken person in the current United States Senate is a small miracle.

Posted by: top_ace | January 13, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

--"Harry Reid on liars, hacks and partisans"--

Oops. Thought this was going to be about Jonathan Gruber.

Posted by: msoja | January 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"How the White House Used Gruber's Work to Create Appearance of Broad Consensus"

Posted by: msoja | January 13, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@top_ace: "Harry Reid is a very unappreciated public servant, which isn't to say that I would agree with him on every particular issue, but having an intelligent, soft-spoken person in the current United States Senate is a small miracle."

An intelligent, soft-spoken Senate Majority Leader who eagerly admits he's no good at twisting arms. As nice as he may be, at this particular point in the Senate's history we need a fighter - not Orville Redenbacher.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | January 13, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

My favorite Reid story is when he was Nevada's gaming commissioner and the FBI ran a sting operation with a guy who offered him a $12000 bribe. The sting ended when Reid beat the living crap out of the guy and FBI agents had to intervene.

Posted by: Douglas4 | January 13, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

By the way, does having a favorite Reid story make me a geek?

Posted by: Douglas4 | January 13, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Reid may be plain-spoken but he's no paragon of virtue. He put the public option in his mark, knowing it would get dropped, in order to fund-raise off it.

He also made his fortune by exploiting his political connections to get favored land deals. Whitewater, anyone?

Posted by: bmull | January 13, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

So Reid thinks that if McCain doesn't agree with him and continues to fight for fiscal sanity, he's "not a statesman." Or if Olympia Snowe doesn't do it his way that she's a "waste of time?"
Well, some of us think that Harry Reid was completely "unstatesmanlike" when he resorted to nasty ad hominem attacks against Bush, Greenspan, the GOP, the US military, and "smelly" tourists.

He doesn't say "interesting things." He says nasty things. Routinely.
This guy is a no-class hack and an embarrassment to the office of Majority Leader and the US Senate.
He owes pretty much everyone in America an apology.
But we won't hold our breath.

Ezra Klein approves of this uncivil behavior because he also dislikes the people that Reid picks on. If the shoe were on the other food, Klein would scream bloody murder at this type of crudeness.

Posted by: parkbench | January 13, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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