Suddenly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is all the rage. And that’s just the way he likes it.
Reid was the subject of a couple of stories recently, neither especially flattering. One declared him dedicated to all manner of evil, while the other asserted he’s become the right’s new boogeyman, despite the fact that no one knows who he is.
The National Review Online — never a big fan of Nevada’s senior senator — hit hard with a piece titled “Clown of the Senate.” (Beware; you have to pay a quarter to see the full article.) The piece purports to trace Reid’s political career, with an eye towards mocking him.
That attempted car bombing when Reid served on the Gaming Control Board? No big. “Desultory attempted car bombings were kind of a thing at the time in Las Vegas,” the piece by Kevin D. Williamson reads. “Reid has been dining out on that car-bomb story for decades, and his tough-guy image is dear to him.”
Tough on the mob? Sure, but mobster Joe Agosto boasted about having Reid — aka “Clean Face” — in his pocket.
Tough in real life? Reid’s admission in his book “The Good Fight” that he once got into a fistfight with his future father-in-law comprises “an unintentionally hilarious bit of autobiographical prose.”
His assaults on the Koch brothers? “‘Obsession’ is not too strong a word for Reid’s relationship with the Wichita-based libertarian philanthropists.” (That’s obviously one of the kinder descriptions of the brothers, who intend to spend $125 million influencing elections this cycle, with one goal being to eliminate Reid from the majority leader’s suite of offices.)
Oh, and by the way, the Kochs aren’t that liberal — they’re pro-gay marriage, anti-PATRIOT Act, marijuana-legalizing libertarians. (Indeed, David Koch ran for vice president of the United States in 1980 on the libertarian ticket, a fact curiously absent from Williamson’s piece.)
After comparing Reid — unfavorably — to infamous Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Williamson denounces Reid for embracing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow Congress to limit campaign fundraising and spending. “Which is to say, Harry Reid proposes to punch James Madison in the face like wants to date his daughter,” Williamson writes. Nice one.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News writes about Reid’s self-appointed function as a lightening rod of right-wing wrath, a role the senator relishes, especially if it can help boost some of his more vulnerable members. The only problem? Too few people know there’s such a person as “Harry Reid” or that he’s somebody they’re supposed to hate. (Ditto for the Koch brothers, although Reid claims to have boosted their name recognition considerably.)
“To normal independent voters, the most obscure story possible would be a fight between Reid and the Koch brothers over Benghazi,” said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, in a reference to the 2012 attack on a Libya diplomatic post that left four Americans dead.
“Most normal human beings outside of the state of Nevada neither know nor care who Harry Reid is. I’m sure most people associate the Koch brothers with a certain cola beverage,” Pitney said.
The story reports that a George Washington University poll conducted March 16-20 found 41 percent either didn’t recognize Reid or had no opinion of him; another 35 percent had a negative view of the senator. A Gallup poll conducted April 24-30 found 32 percent didn’t recognize Reid; 41 percent had a negative view of him.