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Searchlight slugger dodges big target


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likes to remind people about his boxing background, and lately the Searchlight Slugger has been busy bloodying the noses of GOP mega-donors David and Charles Koch.

Through their Americans for Prosperity super PAC and other political groups, the Kochs make little secret of their disdain for government regulation and the Democratic Party. Political observers predict they’ll dump untold millions into Campaign 2014 in a run-up to electing a Republican president, winning back the U.S. Senate, and sending Reid into retirement in 2016. As Jane Mayer observed in her revealing 2010 profile in The New Yorker, “The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry — especially environmental regulation.” With such a philosophy, it’s no surprise Koch Industries has been called one of the nation’s top air polluters, and a Greenpeace report called the company a “kingpin of climate science denial,” Mayer reported.

That thumbnail assessment puts them in direct opposition to Reid, who these days is anything but shy about firing on his two-headed political nemesis after they funded attack ads.

In a Tuesday media missive, Reid said, “The Koch brothers are trying to use their immense wealth to buy their way around the laws and regulations of this nation to make themselves even richer. Because for them, being fourth and fifth on the list of the world’s richest people isn’t enough. Here’s the rules they play by: They should be allowed to say false and misleading things about Obamacare, but we’re not allowed to criticize them for it.”

In a March 13 media release, Reid unleashed a flurry of rhetorical combinations.

He jabbed, “The truth is, the Koch brothers are willing to do anything — even exploit Americans suffering from cancer — to advance their campaign of distortion.”

Then came the hook: “These two multibillionaires may spend hundreds of millions of dollars rigging the political process for their own benefit. And they may believe that whoever has the most money gets the most free speech. But I will do whatever it takes to expose their campaign to rig the American political system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”

If political rhetoric translated into actual punches, canaries would be circling the Koch brothers’ lumpy noggins. They’d be seeing stars and out on their feet.

But speaking of a billionaire who says he’s more than willing to spend millions to buy a pet president, some of us peanut-crunchers in the grandstands wonder why Reid hasn’t broken a sweat punching at Nevada’s favorite Republican megadonor, multibillionaire casino man Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson just finished making national headlines for playing host to the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential “primary” at The Venetian, where his ring was polished to a blinding shine after being kissed by so many politicians. Adelson has dumped millions into super PACs, some of which have been accused of distorting issues, and he’s outspoken when it comes to stating his disdain for the president and Obamacare. If anyone has made it clear he’s willing to spend “whatever it takes” to win an America that’s an even safer haven for billionaires, it’s Sheldon Adelson.

Reid doesn’t miss a chance to fatten the lip of the Koch brothers, but he hasn’t hit Adelson with so much as a bouquet of posies.

A Reid spokesperson said the difference in the senator’s rhetoric is directly attributable to the Koch brothers’ funding of attack ads. So, apparently, Adelson’s dump truck of dough intended to tilt the election process and kick the senator to the curb isn’t worthy of a peep of protest. That’s pretty weak.

The Kochs and Adelson, along with a few other power players on the right and left, are part of the new American oligarchy, the billionaire ruling class. When it comes to polluting the process with mega bucks, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the libertarian brothers and the casino baron.

Does Reid’s silence make sense to anyone?

Come on, slugger, drop the posies and take a swing.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.