Screw Nevada -- It's all about Harry


When President Obama used Las Vegas as an example of where businesses that take federal money ought never go to hold business meetings, local representatives were quick to stand up for the city.

Mayor Oscar Goodman demanded an apology. John Ensign was pointed in his criticism. Tourism representatives pointed out that Obama's off-the-cuff admonition resulted in much needed business canceling trips. These were trips that were important to a city and her citizens who are already suffering hard from the recession. One of the business trips canceled Las Vegas and rescheduled to San Francisco, for goodness sake. So, in the file folder labeled "form over substance" this group spent more for less. Nothing against San Francisco, but by any measure -- cost, fun, weather, facilities -- it certainly has nothing on Las Vegas.

But, just when we could have used a little help from our "most powerful" elected politician, Sen. Harry Reid sided with Obama. Instead of coming to the aid of our No. 1 industry, Reid made lame excuses for Obama. The president was making a larger point, Reid said. He didn't really mean to single out Las Vegas, he added.

Thanks for explaining, Harry. But the damage was done. When we needed you, you were playing for the other team.

Why would Harry do that? I have a theory, which I have written more about for my Sunday column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It goes something like this: Harry's suffering from a terminal case of "Beltwayitis", meaning he's become more interested in his own position, his own power and his own access to the president than he is in the average guy and gal in his home state. He's been sick with it for years and it is why Reid's power in Washington fails to translate into meaningful benefits for his constituents back home. The size of Harry's office is more important to him than the economic well-being of his constituents.

I know this sounds harsh. But I think a cogent argument can be made to support it. And it is one of the reasons Harry Reid may get the boot in 2010 unless he and his supporters can make the case otherwise.

I'll have more about this in my Sunday column in the Review-Journal.