[guest post by JVW]
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid died earlier today at the age of 82 after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly four years. I blogged about his affliction three years ago when the New York Times Magazine had a piece about his life and illness since leaving office. At that time, as I pointed out, people close to Sen. Reid were saying that the Nevada Democrat “had months left, if not weeks” in his life, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise and is in fact a fitting capstone to his political life that this turned out to be a lot of hokum and bunkum, designed to elicit a measure of sympathy to an otherwise largely unsympathetic character.
Fans, or at least those who want to find a legacy-enhancer in the career of Harry Reid, are focusing on his role in passing Obamacare in the Senate, even though that included a very controversial parliamentary trick pulled off a dozen years ago right around this time (tempus fugit!). Despite that victory lap, even Democrat-sympathetic outlets such as CNN find themselves acknowledging that “Reid is often blamed for deepening an era of political polarization.” President Biden shows up to remind everyone that he served ninety years, or whatever it was, in the Senate, many of them alongside of Sen. Reid, and former President Obama quite naturally offers his own peculiar form of praise by evaluating the life of the late Senator almost entirely in terms of how useful he was to Mr. Obama’s own vast ambitions. Various other mediocrities have also added their own two cents on the life and career of Senator Harry Reid.
History will have its say on Harry Reid, but I think it’s inevitable that a major part of his legacy will be the breakdown in comity and cooperation between the two major parties in Washington during his leadership terms. For better or worse (you can probably guess which one I would choose), his career had a huge effect on life in modern America, so his name will rightly go into the history books and his leadership term will be studied in years to come. May he rest in peace.