LARRY ELDER: Harry Reid, death of a ‘statesman’? Cue the laughter

Former Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just died.

New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s website said: “Harry Reid was a statesman.” Rep. Joe Morelle, D-N.Y., tweeted: “America has lost a true statesman with the passing of Harry Reid.” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., tweeted: “Saddened to learn of the passing of Harry Reid — a statesman, a gentleman and a Democratic institution.”

“Statesman”? Where to start?

After voting for the Iraq War, Reid turned against it and attacked President George W. Bush as a “loser” and a “liar.” He later apologized for the “loser” part but kept “liar” intact. Never mind that Colin Powell, Bush’s secretary of state, later admitted that the intel was wrong but insisted no one lied about it.

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward concurred — bad intel, nobody lied. Reid’s defamation gave energy to the disgraceful bogus narrative that became a partisan chant: “Bush lied. People died.” In 2004, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three out of four Democrats said Bush either lied or exaggerated what his administration knew about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. This slur remains an article of faith among Democrats.

When informed of Reid’s impending death, former President Barack Obama wrote, “I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support.”

And Obama, in a tough 2012 campaign against Republican nominee Sen. Mitt Romney, might well have been defeated but for the baseless, scurrilous lie, during the campaign, that Reid uttered on the floor of the Senate: “So the word is out that (Romney) has not paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”

Years later Reid admitted he made the charge with no evidence, but told CNN he had no regrets, adding, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

About this blatant lie, even CNN Politics editor Chris Cillizza wrote in 2015: “This all-means-justify-the-ends logic — assuming the end is your desired one — is absolutely toxic for politics and, more importantly, democracy.” Notably, while politicians on both sides of the aisle praised Reid after his death, including Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Romney said nothing.

Then there’s Reid’s stalwart support for and assistance in passing the constitutionally dubious Obamacare, a crowning achievement for those on the Left who call health care insurance “a right.” For those of us who believe in quaint notions of a limited government, restricted by Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it was a gigantic leap forward in expanding the welfare state and federal governmental overreach.

Days before Obamacare passed, with Obama promising that it would “bend the cost curve” and that no one would lose his or her health care insurance, the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Newmark excoriated it in a piece headlined, “The Worst Deal of All Time.”

After Obamacare passed, FactCheck.org, citing research by the liberal Urban Institute, estimated the number of those losing their health care insurance at 2.6 million, a number other analysts consider far too low. Reid said: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All are untrue, but they’re being told all over America.”

Democratic President Harry Truman said, “Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I’ll show you a crook.”

About one of Reid’s many ethically dubious, self-enriching Nevada real estate schemes, the liberal Los Angeles Times wrote in 2007: “It is a potential violation of congressional ethics standards for a member to accept anything of value — including a real estate discount — from a person with interest before Congress.”

About Reid’s lobbyist sons, whose firms raked in $2 million from “special interests” in need of their dad’s help, the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2010 wrote: “So pervasive are the ties among Reid, members of his family and Nevada’s leading industries and institutions that it’s difficult to find a significant field in which such a relationship does not exist.”

No, calling Reid, a “statesman” is not the same as calling O.J. Simpson, a double murderer who attended the funeral of his butchered-to-death wife, a “grief counselor.” But it’s close.

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