Whether he's publicly recapitulating the hallucinations of an imaginary friend, or wrongly assuring the public that various government programs are "fully funded," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tends to struggle with the truth. The recent high-octane bout of partisan wrangling over whether to pass a porked-up Sandy relief bill is finally complete, and Reid is unhappy that Congress didn't spend more money. To emphasize his frustration, he downplayed the severity of Hurricane Katrina's destruction in order to cast Sandy as far worse -- thus indicting those who opposed even one cent of unrelated "relief" spending as uncaring, heartless bastards:
In his Friday statement, Reid, a Nevada Democrat was making the point that the first $60 billion aid package for Hurricane Katrina passed Congress 10 days after the storm hit New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city when levees failed. But it was more than two months after Sandy hit heavily populated areas of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that the House got around Friday to approving a $9.7 billion package, far less than the $60 billion package approved by the Senate and the $83 billion requested by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Here's part of Reid statement from the Congressional Record: "I really do believe it is important that I have the record reflect the reason we have gotten as far as we have on Sandy is because of the senior Senator from New York. It is too bad that it has taken so long. When we had that devastation from Katrina, we were there within days taking care of Mississippi, Alabama, and especially Louisiana -- within days. We are now past two months with the people of New York and New Jersey. The people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt but nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey. Almost 1 million people have lost their homes; 1 million people lost their homes. That is homes, that is not people in those homes. So I think it is just unfortunate that we do not have the relief for New York and New Jersey and the rest already. It has to be done. We have to meet the needs of the American people when an act of God occurs."
In his rush to demagogue House Republicans, Reid botched the facts. Badly:
Sandy devastated some of the nation's most populated areas, but it didn't come close to Katrina. Hurricane Katrina, and the flooding that followed when federally built levees failed, killing 1,833 and causing more than $145 billion in damage. Sandy has been blamed for 120 deaths and over $80 billion in damage.
But New Orleans got off easy! Right, Harry? Louisiana Senator David Vitter minces no words in his incensed response to Reid's cheap and lazy assertion:
“Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents. Both Katrina and Sandy were horribly destructive storms that caused real human misery. And by most any measure, Katrina was our worst natural disaster in history.”
And before you ask, yes, of course Reid engaged in all sorts of preening and posturing about the Bush administration's response to Katrina back in 2005. Since he apparently believes that Katrina was small potatoes compared to Sandy, where was Reid's incandescent rage during the worst throes of 2012's super-storm? Answer: Stowed safely away in his selective outrage drawer.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography