Surely you’ve read by now about how Nevada’s senior Sen. Harry Reid descended to the well of the Senate and misquoted Thomas Jefferson, even managing to take the misquote out of context and attribute to Jefferson a stance he would never have taken. It was in all the papers, right? Well, no, just in the weeklies in Eureka, Hawthorne, Caliente, Elko and Ely.
My column, which is now available online at The Ely Times, seems to be the only place you can read about the Searchlight mangler’s abuse of our third president.
While arguing in support of the acronym torturing DISCLOSE Act — Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections — a bill that would require any group spending more than $10,000 on political ads to file a report within 24 hours and reveal the names of those who donate more than $10,000, Reid misquoted Jefferson as saying, “The end of democracy will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed corporations.”
The problem is that authoritative research says the quote cannot be found in any of Jefferson’s writings and appeared nowhere until 1994, according to Monticello.org. It is apparently an amalgam of quotes and interpretations. It can be found in countless locations on the Internet, but never with any indication of when, where or to whom.
As though that weren’t bad enough, Harry manages to take the misquote out of context. The rest of the invented passage talks not about corporate speech corrupting politics but about debt: “I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity is but swindling futurity [on the greatest possible scale].” I suspect such words would curdle in Harry’s mouth, since he’s done nothing to stop the foisting of current spending onto future generations.
What makes Reid’s words doubly damnable is that Jefferson would never have backed something like the DISCLOSE Act. You see, Jefferson, along with James Madison, were anonymous backers of scandalmonger Philip Freneau and his National Gazette newspaper, which savaged President Washington while Jefferson was in his cabinet. Washington referred to the newspaperman as “that rascal Freneau.”
The DISCLOSE Act would have forced Freneau to reveal his secret backers.
Here is Harry committing quoticide: