Goodbye, Dirty Harry — Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the Ass [Prematurely Celebrating Sen. Harry Reid’s Retirement]
The sickening stench of a polluted political waterfall is pouring into the abyss.
Just about everyone who’s anyone in Nevada connected in any way to politics or media is spouting praise for Harry Reid, the unbearable United States senator who somehow managed to transmute himself into the great imposter who’s now impersonating the face of American liberalism. Newspaper op-eds, mayors, governors, congressmen, his fellow senators — and most sickening of all, media — continue to toss bogus confetti, applauding his so-called “leadership” while very likely quietly whispering to themselves, thank goodness that loathsome son-of-a-bitch is finally leaving office.
In case you missed the news, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) announced last Friday that he won’t seek re-election, come 2016. He’s suffered several setbacks recently, both political and personal.
First, the former Senate Majority Leader was booted off his pedestal in last November’s mid-term elections. He was about as popular in the American political mainstream as Bill Cosby attending a N.O.W. convention. Indeed, Dirty Harry was lucky to even still be holding office. He quite likely would have lost his last race back in 2012 had state Republicans nominated anyone other than a kooky neophyte named Sharron Angle to run against him. Throughout his political career, he pretended to embrace progressive policies and champion liberal causes. But his most devoted cause was always the political future and financial well-being of one favorite Nevadan in particular — Harry Reid. On most issues important to the left, he often went AWOL as a legislative leader whenever his support was needed the most. Consider his shallow list of “accomplishments” while in charge of the senate, particularly during the two-year window of opportunity that existed right after President Obama’s historic victory in 2008, when Democrats enjoyed their strongest political leverage in a half century. Reid’s tenure isn’t so much a political triumph as a glaring void.
Second, Dirty Harry’s health took a serious nose dive when he fell down at his home in Henderson a few moths ago and suffered a serious eye injury. While everyone wishes Nevada’s senior senator a speedy recovery, his health setbacks do seem endemic of more consequential political frailties. While the gridlock in Washington clearly isn’t his fault as much as Republicans, then again, neither has Dirty Harry been able to capitalize on the Republicans’ blatant obstructionism. He and his party were handed a political gift, something that should have been a windfall — bumbling obstructionist Republicans to campaign against — and Dirty Harry somehow blew it. How on earth does someone manage to get outmaneuvered by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)? That speaks volumes as to incompetence.
That said, Dirty Harry always demonstrated a unique talent for walking Nevada’s quirky political tightrope, seemingly balancing out the demands of powerful labor unions, public sector employees, ranchers, mining companies, a flood of transplants from other states, and of course — the casino industry. He always seemed to do just enough to get elected and then re-elected (repeatedly), without delivering very much to anyone other than feigned concern and false promises. Consider the repeated instances of his pledged support for online poker/gambling which never went anywhere, despite his lofty position as the most powerful man in the senate. When constituent Sheldon Adelson rose up and voiced his strong objections to online poker/gambling, Dirty Harry backtracked away from his support so quickly, one might he was doing the moonwalk. When asked about that, next he shocked liberals by rushing to Adelson’s defense in the press, delivering his infamous “Don’t pick on Sheldon Adelson” suck up. Some champion of liberalism, huh?
But aside from a few angry poker players, no one will remember much about Dirty Harry’s flip-flopping on various online bills or his shameful defense of Adelson. Rather, it’s his lengthy pattern of troubling ethical stretches that shall become his final legacy, I predict. The real shame is that many times Adelson was on the right side of various debates. He ruined his credibility (and ours, by association), by also benefiting from many of the policies he favored. Here are a few of the most recent Dirty Harry scandals:
- Between 2001-2005, Dirty Harry collected nearly $70,000 in campaign contributions from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who later went to prison as one of the most thoroughly corrupt scammers in Washington. For donations, Dirty Harry stepped in and opposed minimum wage increases in a foreign U.S. territory and also tried to stop approval for Native American casinos which would have threatened Abramoff’s clients. [Source — ABC NEWS]: Abramoff Reports to Prison; Officials Focus on Reid, Others
- In 2006, one of Dirty Harry’s closest pals tried to build a sparkling new city out in the barren desert about 60 miles away from Las Vegas, which was to be called Coyote Springs. That all sounded fine, except that this longtime buddy named Harvey Whittemore ended up getting convicted and sentenced to two years in a federal prison — for making illegal campaign contributions (including to Reid). Whittemore was a major donor to Dirty Harry, and even hired all four of Reid’s kids at various times to work at his law firm, which of course wouldn’t raise any suspicions. While trying to move Coyote Springs forward, Whittemore got every break in the book from various federal aencies, particularly with some prodding from Reid’s senate office. He clearly received favors that no ordinary constituent would have been afforded. [Source: WALL STREET JOURNAL]: Desert Developer’s Woes Buffet Reid
- We all applaud improvements to the national infrastructure, especially to our federal highways. Moreover, Las Vegas remains one of the most poorly served major metro areas of the country in terms of updated highway access. Consider the poor planning that’s plagued access between Southern Nevada and Northern Arizona, which for decades required driving on a single-lane road over the Hoover Dam. Fortunately, Dirty Harry helped come to the rescue some time ago, backing and pushing hard for an expansive bridge over the Colorado River, connecting the two states. Cost: $18 billion. As the road was being built, it was discovered that Dirty Harry owned a bunch of land (about 100 acres) a short distance away from Bullhead City, AZ — which was coincidentally close to the new interstate. The land value increased substantially. [Source — LOS ANGELES TIMES]: Will the Pork Stop Here?
- Last year, Sen. Reid got involved in the controversy to kick deadbeat ranch rancher Cliven Bundy off federal land and pay back taxes and grazing fees. So far, so good. Trouble was, Sen. Reid’s former aide headed up the Bureau of Land Management and initiated this action right after his senate confirmation. Rory, a failed gubernatorial candidate who is Dirty Harry’s son was then found to have financial ties to a company that would have benefited financially from the land grab. [Source — INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY]: Harry Reid: The Desert Fox of Corruption
- Also last year, Dirty Harry was discovered to have paid out $31,000 to none other than his granddaughter’s jewelry company — directly from campaign funds. That’s against the law. Local media maven Jon Ralston first reported on this story which was then hushed up and eventually disappeared after the senator agreed to reimburse the fund in full, that is, after getting caught. [Source — REAL CLEAR POLITICS]: Reid to Reimburse Campaign $31K Paid to Kin for Gifts
That’s the short list — stuff that happened just in the last decade or so. And that doesn’t include the gaffes and other political embarrassments.
Oh yeah, and then there’s Dirty Harry’s four remarkable children, each managing alone by their own talents, no doubt, to land plum, high-paying jobs with Nevada’s largest law firm. While not necessarily illegal, this is clearly politically tainted and the insider stuff that drives most ethicists crazy. All four of Dirty Harry’s kids work for Lionel, Sawyer & Collins, which has led to some obvious suspicions. THE LOS ANGELES TIMES noted:
“….Harry Reid is in a class by himself. One of his sons and his son-in-law lobby in Washington for companies, trade groups and municipalities seeking Reid’s help in the Senate. A second son has lobbied in Nevada for some of those same interests, and a third has represented a couple of them as a litigator. In the last four years alone, their firms have collected more than $2 million in lobbying fees from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.”
As for being a true liberal, there’s little to suggest Dirty Harry is a true believer in progressive causes. Not when he’s “in bed with America’s worst polluter,” this according to MOTHER JONES [Read — “Harry Reid: Gold Member”). This is a senator who protects mining companies, with which his son-in-law has close ties, and keeps tariffs low so corporate profits can be maximized. The real losers here are the citizens of Nevada and the state’s skeleton budget as well as the federal treasury, which should all be compensated more handsomely in a revenue share agreement more in line with what other states charge for minerals rights. Corporations are basically stealing from government lands.
Then, there was the Senate bill floated in the last session by Democrats which would have increased the federal minimum wage to $10.10. Just as it was about to move through the Senate, Dirty Harry suddenly yanked the bill, running from prospective legislative fight. It never reached the floor for a vote. Even if the bill didn’t have the necessary votes for passage, pulling the bill two months before the 2014 election proved to be idiotic. So much for Dirty Harry’s support for working people.
To be somewhat more balanced, Dirty Harry often voted correctly on many issues — including on energy, economics, government regulation, taxation, executive authority, and so forth. He’s credited with being one of the key movers on Obamacare, and for that we should be thankful. Less so is his political grandstanding on the Yucca Mountain issue, which the media has been cheerleading a lot recently. Dirty Harry wasn’t exactly standing alone fighting a nuclear waste dump being constructed in Nevada, while it was being proposed. Every Nevada politician was up in arms about it, without exception, leading to its being shut down when President Obama took office. So, while Dirty Harry does deserve a victory, he shouldn’t be handed the game ball. There were lots of teammates who made that victory happen.
The parade of praise heaped upon Dirty Harry has just started, even though he’s been the political equivalent of inviting Al Sharpton to the birthday party for a very long time in terms of persuasiveness. If you reside in Nevada, get used to slobbering accounts of his so-called “distinguished” career until he leaves office. Just like many of those horrible old timers who proceeded him in congress and now for whom government offices and boulevards and airports are named after back in every home state, Nevada is likely destined to someday house a Harry Reid Federal Office Building, Harry Reid Avenue, Harry Reid Regional Airport, and other granite monuments to hypocrisy. We’ll be reminded daily each time we drive by how much he did for the state of Nevada, and supposedly its citizens.
But at what cost. And who’s gain?
Certainly, Dirty Harry’s gain. And, the four little acorns, too, who didn’t fall very far from the tree. That’s for sure.