- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When CQ Weekly characterized a recent Republican fact sheet detailing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s voting record and policy comments as “bare-knuckled,” the Nevada Democrat achieved a public-relations coup over his feigned hurt from GOP “destructionist” tactics. Our advice to Harry is to take a deep breath. As for our friends at CQ Weekly, we implore them to take another look at the 11-page memo from the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Precisely when did publicizing a three-term senator’s voting record become either a “bare-knuckled” or a “destructionist” strategy? The memo was titled, “Reid all about it: Who is Harry Reid?” It accused Mr. Reid of being “chief Democrat obstructionist.” Where did Republicans get such an idea? Well, they quoted a Nov. 16 article in Congressional Quarterly Today (a sister publication of CQ Weekly), which reported that Mr. Reid, as the minority whip to then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, “helped orchestrate an unprecedented filibuster of some of President Bush’s more conservative judges.” If conducting “an unprecedented filibuster” campaign does not qualify as being an obstructionist, what does?

The RNC memo also accused Mr. Reid of being a liberal. It noted that he has compiled a 90 percent lifetime voting rating from the AFL-CIO. His lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union was 21 percent. The memo noted that he voted against the constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage and that he was endorsed for his 2004 re-election bid by the Human Rights Campaign, the homosexual lobby, which called him “a leader we can count on.”

The memo called him “a tax-and-spend liberal,” noting that he voted against the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and voted at least eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits. The memo meticulously listed the 37 roll call votes during which Mr. Reid voted against marriage-penalty relief (20 times) and expanding the child tax credit (17 times). Citing a Jan. 26 article in the Hill newspaper, which reported that “[a]n aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was arrested on the West Front of the Capitol for disorderly conduct during President Bush’s inaugural address,” the RNC memo playfully observed that “Reid’s aides are obstructionists in their free time, too.”

If Mr. Reid is sincere in having his feelings hurt by the RNC, he ought to take the advice of President Truman, who famously said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” On a related matter, Harry Truman also advised: “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.”

If, however, as we strongly suspect, Mr. Reid debased himself by trying to look hurt and vulnerable in order to gain some small tactical advantage against a political adversary, then he is less a victim of the RNC memo than President Bush is from his stunt. In the end, Mr. Reid revealed himself to be every bit as unheroic as he pretended to be by posing as a weak, beaten dog in order to score a political point.

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