Former Nevada Democratic Sen. and Senate majority leader Harry Reid appears to be on what one might suspect is a farewell media tour.
Though he never was too cozy with the media, Reid has in recent weeks, while being treated for pancreatic cancer, granted lengthy interviews with The New York Times Magazine, the Las Vegas public radio station and the editor of the contribution-funded news and commentary website The Nevada Independent.
While most of the buzz has been about his harsh criticism of President Trump, calling him amoral, he also has been downright unrepentant about his own deeds over the years that pushed the boundaries of propriety.
In the Times article he was quoted as saying, “Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience.”
Reid went on to say, “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had. … We’ve had some bad ones, and there’s not even a close second to him. … He’ll lie. He’ll cheat. You can’t reason with him.”
In the radio interview he doubled down, saying, “What amoral means is this: immoral is you do things and you feel bad about it. … If you are amoral, you have no conscience,” adding, “I didn’t use the word as a throwaway word. I used the word because I meant it.”
The Nevada Indy editor described Reid as seeming “positively giddy that his use of the word ‘amoral’ to describe Trump … had generated so many Google searches for the definition — 4,300, he beamed.”
Without a hint of irony the magazine story recounted how Reid in 2012, with no proof to back it up, falsely claimed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid any income taxes in a decade. He later told CNN by way of justification, “I don’t regret it at all. Romney didn’t win, did he?”
The Indy even quotes Reid as being boastful about using the power of his office to badger bankers into lending money for MGM Resorts to finish its stalled City Center project and intimidating hedge fund managers into pulling out of financing coal-fired power plants near Ely that cost hundreds of jobs.
“No one in their right mind would have done what I did ….” the 79-year-old Reid said. “No one would have done that … but it paid off.”
This was the same Reid who twisted arms at Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reverse a decision that was blocking visas for Chinese investors in a Las Vegas casino with ties to Reid’s son Rory.
And yes, the same Reid who in 1998 invested $400,000 in a parcel of land in Las Vegas, but transferred the land to another party three years later for the purchase price, according to records. Yet, when the land sold in 2004 he pocketed $1.1 million. Reid aides dismissed the earlier deal as a “technical” transfer.
Sometimes his efforts fell short. After Reid acquired 160 acres in Bullhead City, Ariz., the land was expected to increase in value after Reid passed a bill to spend $20 million to build a bridge over the Colorado River nearby, but the bridge was never built.
No need to mention one of Reid’s backers went to prison for illegally bundling contributions to Reid.
On the radio Reid also boasted about getting millions in funding to research unidentified flying objects.
“I think it is something we can’t ignore. I personally don’t know if there exist little green men places. I kind of doubt that, but I do believe the information we have indicates we should do a lot more study,” he said, without deigning to mention that much of the secret “research” money went to a Las Vegas crony and campaign contributor.
Reid has a well-earned reputation for being truculent, belligerent, rude, viciously vindictive, antagonistic and downright Machiavellian.
His own former press aide once told a reporter Reid looks at a person’s vulnerabilities to “disarm, to endear, to threaten, but most of all to instill fear.” Perhaps we can file this under the category: It takes one to know one.
Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in Nevada. You may email Mitchell at email@example.com. He blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.