Senate majority leader practices politics of personal destruction
Harry Reid is the majority bumpkin of the U.S. Senate, vying with the vice president to say weird, goofy, sometimes amusing and often embarrassing things. His Democratic colleagues typically chuckle, roll their eyes, and put it down to ol’ Harry just being old Harry. (He’s only 78, but in his case, 78 is the new 90.) Long-suffering aides shrug at his bellicose ad-libs and call it “just Harry getting out ahead of his skis.”
Nevertheless, when he stands up on the Senate floor, his colleagues hold their breath. No one can predict what’s going to come out of the motorized mouth. Like Joe Biden, he’s always good for a laugh. He once joked that with the arrival of summer and its high temperatures and high humidity, “you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.” He welcomed Barack Obama to the presidential race in 2008 because he was “light-skinned” and spoke with “no Negro dialect.” He once applauded a better-than-expected jobs report with the remark that “only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.” When a reporter asked him how the death of Ted Kennedy would affect health care reform, he replied, “Oh, I think it’s going to help us.” He is nevertheless a fortunate bumpkin, because he has aides to decide when apologies are necessary. It’s a job that keeps two aides employed full time.