I’m sure Harry Reid chuckled heartily at today’s newspaper column by Jane Ann Morrison in which she rains on his retirement celebration today by saying of him in her opening line: “Harry Reid is rude, ruthless and deceitful. He spent his political life embracing the Machiavellian motto that it’s better to be feared than loved.”
Having covered Reid for 37 years, she knows whereof she speaks. Morrison was there when mobster Joe Agosto was caught on tape saying, “I gotta Cleanface in my pocket,” meaning Harry, then head of the Gaming Commission.
She was in court when they played the video of phony Harry pretending to outraged at being offered a bribe.
In 1979, Reid testified in court about a bribe attempt. The year before, Las Vegan Jack Gordon offered a $12,000 bribe to Reid, hoping to win approval for two new gaming devices. Reid reported it to the FBI, and his office was set up to videotape the meeting. When the bribe was offered, FBI agents entered to arrest Gordon. Reid erupted, saying, “You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!” and started to choke Gordon. He had to be pulled off by agents.
As I watched the video in court, it seemed somewhat fake. Reid, a lawyer, knew he was being videotaped.
Somewhat fake? Morrison is too kind by half.
She also recounts a time when he flat out lied about saying something to her that she had clearly taped. But that’s never affected Harry, who has changed course countless times over the years and then denied doing so.
Morrison gave Harry his due. He did accomplish a number of things, mostly for himself and his party.
Even Harry’s former Senate colleague Richard Bryan vouched for him embracing the fear over love methodology.
Bryan has said Reid “has a memory like a political elephant. You cross him, he’ll never forget that. There will be a price to pay. Certainly there are people who paid the price.” Bryan declined to name names.
Harry’s one-time spokeswoman, Susan McCue, a woman who turned the term media relations into an oxymoron, once told a reporter Reid looks at a person’s vulnerabilities to “disarm, to endear, to threaten, but most of all to instill fear.”
Morrison accurately called that Machiavellian.
In the chapter on Reid in Peter Schweizer’s book, “Extortion: How politicians extract your money, buy votes, and line their own pockets,” the author recounts countless self-serving deals Harry cut over the years.
Schweizer opens that section with a quote from “The Godfather” by Don Corleone, “Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
The book then describes a scene at a restaurant hours after Reid was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2005, for his fourth term and became Senate majority leader. “Reid was seated in the quiet backroom of the restaurant. The lobbyists, who represented the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, took turns saying hello to the new leader. ‘It was like a scene out of “The Godfather,”’ one lobbyist told Roll Call. ‘He was in the room and people were lined up to greet him and pay homage.’”
Schweizer concludes the chapter by writing that Reid “runs the Democrat Party’s toughest family extortion syndicate …”
There are a few columnists Reid appears to like — those who fawn over him and his Machiavellian ways and snipe at those who dare to question his deviousness and vindictiveness and self-serving deeds.
A few years ago, Reid had this to say about one of them:
Some are watchdogs. Some are lapdogs.