- - Thursday, March 6, 2014

In the popular Netflix series “House of Cards,” Kevin Spacey plays politician Frank Underwood as a manipulative power broker who will say and do anything to climb the ladder of power in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the real life Frank Underwood, without the roguish charm and mischievous evil of the fictional pol.

Mr. Reid was elected to Congress as a conservative Democrat. He said he valued life and supported the Second Amendment. He promised that he would buck the party line if need be to protect his principles.

That was three decades ago. Realizing he could not rise in the party leadership and keep his convictions, he gradually abandoned the “inconvenient” convictions to the applause of the abortionists and the would-be repealers of the Constitution.

Mr. Reid was first a staunch opponent of the “nuclear option,” the rewriting of the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster protection of the minority party, while George W. Bush occupied the White House.

As soon as President Obama moved in, Mr. Reid flipped. If the Republicans regain control the Senate in November, we can expect the flop.

Having jettisoned principle, Mr. Reid assumes the role of Democratic hatchet man, taking whacks at any Republican or conservative who stands in the way of expanding his power.

In 2012, under cover of the Constitution that protects a senator from libel lawsuits for what he says on the Senate floor, Mr. Reid called Mitt Romney a tax cheat. “The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years,” Mr. Reid said. “Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”

Such a lie would have embarrassed old Joe McCarthy, but it had the intended effect of putting doubt in the minds of voters.

The senator from Las Vegas has lately gone after Charles and David Koch, the billionaire entrepreneurs who employ more than 50,000 workers making a wide variety of products, such as plastics, resin, fiber-optic cables, cardboard boxes, diapers, lumber and paper towels.

They run a business that generates $113 billion in annual revenue, but what makes them Mr. Reid’s enemy is that the brothers are conservatives, like Mr. Reid once said he was, and put their considerable money at the service of the free-market values that brought them much success.

Mr. Reid on Tuesday delivered a string of nasty “tweets” bordering on obsession. “Might as well face it,” he wrote to the cyberworld, “Republicans are addicted to Koch.” The senator accuses the brothers of “trying to buy America” and he calls their participation in the American political process “un-American.”

That’s rich, considering that Mr. Reid’s career rests on the largesse of George Soros, a Hungarian-born currency speculator — and convicted inside trader — who wants to transform America into a European-style welfare state. Without the Soros money Mr. Reid would be in the minority, and likely not a leader even of that.

Demonizing an opponent to avoid an argument over ideas is one of the oldest tricks in politics. Principles are heavy baggage in the climb to power, as Mr. Reid and Frank Underwood, his role model, have learned.

The next season of “House of Cards” is a year away, when we will see whether Underwood is headed for a fall. We won’t have to wait that long to see whether Harry Reid takes the tumble he deserves. Election Day is only eight months away.

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