Enthusiasts of honesty, good manners, and functional politics received excellent news on Friday, when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his decision not to seek re-election in 2016. Reid was expected to be one of the Senate Democrats' most vulnerable incumbents in the coming cycle, with national Republicans taking aim at the Nevadan early and often. In light of his forthcoming departure, holding that seat could prove challenging for Reid's party, thus imperiling their chances at regaining an upper chamber majority. Though it's true that the caliber of Senate Democrats' top leadership won't improve drastically after Reid's retirement (this guy and this guy will be left to run the show), his exit from the political stage is an outcome worth celebrating in and of itself. Let's walk down memory lane together and recall some of the incidents that have secured Harry Reid's spot among the most contemptible members of the United States Congress. This 'top ten' list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a start:
(1) That time he claimed, with a straight face, that paying taxes is "voluntary:"
(2) That time he completely baselessly accused Mitt Romney of tax evasion on the Senate floor -- with the Obama campaign's blessing:
"The word's out!" Reid also remarked that Romney had "sullied" the Mormon faith, also opining that the Republican's father would be "embarrassed" by him. These nasty attacks proved too much even for Jon Stewart.
(3) Those approximately 17,000 times he ripped the Koch brothers by name, going so far as to call them "un-American," which usually raises gales of protest from the Civility Police when ideologies are reversed:
(4) That time when Reid -- whose party refused to even propose annual budgets throughout most of his time at the helm -- attacked "mean-spirited" (and minuscule) GOP-offered budget cuts as devastating to, uh, cowboy poets:
(5) That time Reid claimed that every single Obamacare horror story was a lie, prompting a furious rebuttal from yours truly. Public polling continues to show that many more Americans were directly harmed by the law than were helped:
(6) That time Reid, a promiscuous player of the race card, praised Barack Obama for being "light skinned" and lacking a "Negro dialect:"
(7) That time when Reid tipped his hand on 'shutdown theater' in 2013, after being asked why he opposed a Republican proposal to re-open parts of the government on a piecemeal basis. On the subject of NIH funding, CNN's Dana Bash asked, "if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you do it?" To which Reid replied, "why would we want to do that?"
(8) That time Reid got super rich during his tenure as a supposed "public servant" on a government salary, thanks to a series of remarkably successful investments:
Try this thought experiment. Imagine that someone grows up in poverty, works his way through law school by holding the night shift as a Capitol Hill policeman, and spends all but two years of his career as a public servant. Now imagine that this person’s current salary — and he’s at the top of his game — is $193,400. You probably wouldn’t expect him to have millions in stocks, bonds, and real estate. But, surprise, he does, if he’s our Senate majority leader, whose net worth is [now] between 3 and 10 million dollars, according to OpenSecrets.org.
(9) That time Harry Reid wondered how any one with brown skin could be a Republican, echoing President Obama's divisive "punish our enemies" sentiment:
(10) That time when Reid, having detonated the nuclear option on filibuster rules as majority leader, suddenly reclaimed his deep commitment to the practice after being relegated to the minority. Click through for a fuller accounting of his shamelessness on Senate procedure.
Sen. Reid yesterday: "The filibuster is an indispensable tool of the minority"— STEW (@StewSays) January 8, 2015
And as an added bonus, we mustn't forget those times (i.e. right now) when Reid stood in the way of several bipartisan bills, including one designed to combat sex trafficking, in a radical effort to undermine a longstanding precedent against taxpayer-funded abortion -- a practice he claims to oppose. Enjoy spending more time with your beloved pomegranate trees, Senator.