Patterico's Pontifications


Harry Reid Heads to His Final Sunset

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:03 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting profile of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid which is dated today but I assume will be running in this Sunday’s print edition. Though I have always found the former senator to be a loathsome character, let’s right away acknowledge a fact of which I was unaware and that I don’t know has been widely reported:

Reid, who is 79, does not have long to live. I hate to be so abrupt about this, but Reid probably would not mind. In May, he went in for a colonoscopy, the results of which caused concern among his doctors. This led to an M.R.I. that turned up a lesion on Reid’s pancreas: cancer. Reid’s subdued and slightly cold manner, and aggressive anticharisma, have always made him an admirably blunt assessor of situations, including, now, his own: “As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead.”

I had planned to visit Reid, who had not granted an interview since his cancer diagnosis, in November, but he put me off, saying he felt too weak. People close to him were saying that he had months left, if not weeks.

The writer, Mark Leibovich, is likely a Democrat of some or other stripe, though his other writing for the magazine doesn’t appear at first glance to be heavily partisan. He gives his subject plenty of room to criticize the President, the GOP, and Washington in general, but he also reminds his readers that Harry Reid bears a great deal of responsibility for the ill will that pervades throughout Washington these days:

Reid once called the Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan a “political hack,” Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment” and President George W. Bush a “loser” (for which he later apologized) and a “liar” (for which he did not). In 2016, he dismissed Trump as “a big fat guy” who “didn’t win many fights.” Reid himself was more than ready to fight, and fight dirty: “I was always willing to do things that others were not willing to do,” he told me.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, he claimed, with no proof, that Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over the past decade. Romney released tax returns showing that he did. After the election, Reid told CNN by way of self-justification, “Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid took rightful criticism over this.

[. . .]

In some ways, Washington, under Trump, has devolved into the feral state that Reid, in his misanthropic heart, always knew it could become under the right conditions.

Misanthropic, needy, and vain are some of the characteristics of Reid that come across in this profile. Though the future senator grew up in a broken home in a town that supposedly contained “at least a half-dozen brothels and not a single church” (this might be the kind of hokum and bunkum that someone like Harry Reid passes along to a NYT Magazine profiler), he now lives in what Leibovich calls “a McMansion in a gated community outside of Las Vegas,” and the former senator has round-the-clock security protecting him. Always bumbling and clumsy where issues of diversity are concerned, the host makes a big deal of showing his guest a menorah that he has brought out for Hanukkah, even though the reporter describes himself as having only nominal Jewish identity. In an era where intersectionality is now the organizing principle of the left, we aren’t likely to see a Harry Reid type in this kind of leadership role anytime soon.

It can’t be easy to have to come to grips with your legacy on your deathbed. Reid admits that he still follows the Washington scene pretty closely. He takes pride in his role in passing Obamacare, and he defends curtailing the filibuster for judicial appointments pointing out that it helped confirm 100 judges appointed by President Obama, even if it did allow Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to win confirmation to the Supreme Court. He speaks with his successor, Chuck Schumer, from time to time though it sounds as if Schumer is not particularly interested in any advice that Reid has to offer, and he maintains contact with old friends Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin. But Reid’s essential weirdness continues to be a hallmark of his character. He tells Leibovich a sappy and almost certainly untrue story of his last conversation with John McCain, which even the mostly respectful reporter finds highly unbelievable:

Reading Reid can be difficult. Is he playing a game or working an angle or even laughing at a private joke he just told himself? When speaking of his final goodbye with McCain, he broke into a strange little grin, his lips pressed upward as if he could have been stifling either amusement or tears. It occurred to me that Reid, typically as self-aware as he is unsentimental, could have been engaged in a gentle playacting of how two old Senate combatants of a fast-vanishing era are supposed to say goodbye to each other for posterity.

Harry Reid’s legacy is uniformly negative. He pursued political power relentlessly and showed no scruples about impugning the character and motives of men and women far more worthy than he as he scrapped his way through Washington. He’s one of those “public servants” who arrived in our nation’s capital as a man of moderate wealth, yet left 35 years later having increased his holdings by at least tenfold and possibly as much as fifteen times their original worth, all while keeping two households (Nevada and Washington) on a Senator’s salary which topped out at $194,000 and with a wife whom I don’t believe ever worked outside the Reid home. We can wish him smooth passage to his eternal reward yet still recognize that Senator Tom Cotton’s assessment of him is just as trenchant today as it was when it was delivered two-and-one-half years ago.


39 Responses to “Harry Reid Heads to His Final Sunset”

  1. I do not plan to write an obituary for Senator Reid when he eventually dies, so I expect this to be pretty much the last I have to say about him.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. I have no affection for Senator Reid, since he epitomizes what I dislike the most about our modern political scene. After all, this comment, directed toward Reid, applies to many commenters on politics today:

    “…and showed no scruples about impugning the character and motives of men and women far more worthy…”

    That said, I wish him a smooth transition toward Judgement, that his good deeds in areas of which I am unaware will help him during that final evaluation.

    Simon Jester (984e98)

  3. After all, this comment, directed toward Reid, applies to many commenters on politics today:

    Indeed. I wish the author, Mr. Leibovich, had written a bit more on how Harry Reid’s Washington led to Donald Trump’s Washington, but I assume that some writer at NRO or elsewhere will tackle that topic when Reid shuffles off this mortal coil.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  4. R.I.P. Daryl Dragon, the “Captain” in The Captain & Tennille

    Icy (228bf3)

  5. In 2016, he dismissed Trump as “a big fat guy” who “didn’t win many fights.”

    Such ingratitude.

    Donald Trump was one of Reid’s biggest donors!

    Dave (fef735)

  6. He “…showed no scruples…” yet left Washington 35 years later with a big, fat bank account. If that doesn’t perfectly demonstrate what is wrong with lifelong politicians and the corruption of government, I don’t know what does.

    Dana (023079)

  7. thank you for your service Mr. Reid

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  8. It would be just like Harry Reid and his staff to be lying about the extent of his affliction (“People close to him were saying that he had months left, if not weeks”), but the picture of him that runs with the story has him looking rather gaunt in clothes that are kind of loosely hanging on his frame. I also wonder if there were any people in the study you cited as old as Reid is (nearly 80). But I guess we’ll find out.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  9. probably we could revisit reid’s turbulent origins at a later time, but one recall dan moldea’s attack against Reagan stalwart paul laxalt, in the early 80s, attributing mob ties to both him and Reagan, (moldea subsequently had ken starr, shepherd him through a libel proceeding, and just a few years later, it proved no good deed goes unpunished, when he went to work for larry flynt,

    narciso (d1f714)

  10. who else looks rather drawn sickly and gaunt is Mitt Romney

    a hollowed-out shell of his former self

    are you sick Mitt

    are you ill

    can i get you a lozenge Mitt

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  11. I don’t know about Reid’s medical condition but from the reports, he had surgery in May 2018 and his prognosis was said to be good.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg had pancreatic cancer surgery in 2009 when she was 75. At the time, the report said:

    As few as 10 of every 100 patients have their pancreatic tumor cut out. The majority have the most aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, called adenocarcinoma, and usually it’s too far gone to operate.

    This is one of the most formidable cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 38,000 people last year were diagnosed with it, and no more than 5 percent overall survive five years.

    But look at those whose cancer is caught early enough for surgery, followed by chemotherapy, and that five-year survival grows, reaching anywhere from 20 percent to 24 percent.

    DRJ (46c88f)

  12. I know from experience that chemo can leave you looking ill and gaunt. It’s tough.

    DRJ (46c88f)

  13. Harry Reid is a hyperpartisan who contributed to this political climate. He’s the last person who should be complaining about the situation he helped cause.
    At the same time, the GOP should thank Reid for making it so easy for Trump’s judicial nominees to get confirmed. Stripping away the filibuster was one of the stupidest, short-sighted political maneuvers of this century, a short-term decision that had permanent lasting effects. My only opinion about his so-called legacy is contempt.

    Paul Montagu (da2fa4)

  14. can i get you a lozenge Mitt

    that’s very thoughtful of you

    Dave (fef735)

  15. whether it’s Mitt Romney or Harry Reid I may disagree with them on certain aspects of policy but I admire the way these gentlemen answered the civic call of duty in such similar ways

    cheers to you both

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. I think harry is the only person ever to get the sh!t kicked out of him by a door.

    mg (8cbc69)

  17. “door”



    Icy (228bf3)

  18. GD Spradlin may have been the warning we couldn’t believe was serious….the “I dont like you people” at the beginning of Godfather 2 reminds me if Reid the congressman’s speeches in favor of illegal immigration control measures.

    urbanleftbehind (8241bf)

  19. A lozenge killed former Chicago mayor Harold Washington, if one believes black urban legends.

    urbanleftbehind (8241bf)

  20. He was supposed to be based on mccarran. The fellow behind mccarran Ferguson and mccarran walters.

    Narciso (744500)

  21. he’s got that rather dramatic library what looks like a flying toaster

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  22. Heck this is the first such piece:

    Narciso (744500)

  23. The earlier link is about another left bete noire,

    Narciso (744500)

  24. He has done immense harm to our nation. I pray he meets a just end when he faces eternal judgement.

    NJRob (ce94ac)

  25. I will not speak ill of the dead or soon-to-be-dead.

    Kevin M (cb624b)

  26. As much as I want to.

    Kevin M (cb624b)

  27. He always reminded me of Mr. Burns of the Simpsons.

    Feh. What a life.

    (good one, Kevin M)

    Patricia (3363ec)

  28. I am not a Blade Runner, I am Little People. As such, I like Reid better than Trump or Romney. He treated politics like a job, and he earned his pay, delivering for his constituency, his party, and his party’s Presidents. He was not a rich jerkoff who having gotten the money and the woman looked to get the power too in his old age like Trump, or look for the most second most exclusive club to join like Romney right now. (The most exclusive being ex-Presidents. On that line of thought, I like Trump better than Romney. He has the single saving grace of having saved us from Hillary.)

    I hope he’s wrong about his prospects with his pancreas and he lives long enough to enjoy his retirement.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. most second most

    nk (dbc370)

  30. I’m Little People, too, and Harry Reid was jerkoff who became a rich jerkoff while serving as a public servant. It was his brand of uncivil, hyperpartisan politics that only polarized the political climate in this century. I only hope that the history books piss on his legacy, and that he’ll be remembered as the dishonest partisan hack who, rather than helping his party, backfired by helping Donald Trump confirm all the kinds of judges that Reid would’ve filibustered had he still held his job.

    Paul Montagu (da2fa4)

  31. the harry reids and hillary clintons in the democrat party by the ocasio-cortez crowd that is now gunning for pelosi. be careful what you wish for an old chinese curse.

    lany (2e22b2)

  32. May God bless and reward Harry Reid, according to his merits.

    C. S. P. Schofield (531c3d)

  33. RIP Bob Einstein aka Super Dave Osborne

    I think I first saw him as Officer Judy on the old Steve Allen Show and Smothers Brothers.

    Hilarious deadpan comedian.

    harkin (d82f96)

  34. @33. Gingrich was- and remains- the jerkoff who poisoned the well.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  35. I think the reason pancreatic cancer kills so fast after diagnosis may be because of teh way it is treated, not because of what it is. This should be looked into.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  36. 37)Tom Foley on line #1, with the October surprise investigation, collusion 1.0 figment

    narciso (d1f714)

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