The out-of-control hatred of Harry Reid

Editor’s note: This column appears in the current issue of Las Vegas CityLife.

Harry Reid has never been Nevada’s most popular politician. Unless he’s running against a total nobody, he’s been known to win by as few as 428 votes.

But the hatred — the passionate, driving enmity — that the right-wing feels for Reid is simply inexplicable.

In person, Reid is a shy, soft-spoken person, not given to fits of yelling. Even when he tries to be funny — say, mocking Sarah Palin’s trademark “you betcha!” — he does it in a low-key way. You can come away from a meeting with Reid thinking people would be more likely to ignore him than to loathe him.

But there he is, driving right-wingers into fits of spleen-venting fury from Washington, D.C. to Bonanza Road in Las Vegas, where he’s a fixture of derision on the editorial and op-ed pages of the Review-Journal. (That newspaper is owned by the same company — Stephens Media LLC — that owns CityLife.)

Even fellow members of Reid’s faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are driven to distraction about him. Reid had to cancel a recent appearance at a local Mormon stake house where he’d been invited to talk about “Why I Believe,” after threats were made to disrupt the proceedings. In response to a blog written on the subject, one fellow Mormon said he’d hit Reid if he saw the senator in church. Another said Reid was the most evil man on the face of the earth. And — the ultimate religious slam — one said he’d rather hear from a minion of Satan himself than Reid.

Here, the indelicate question must be asked: What the hell, people? Reid may be a Democrat while the majority of Mormons are Republicans, but he’s never violated his religious conscience or the teachings of the church with a vote. Why the anger?

And it’s not just Mormons. Polls consistently show about half of registered voters with an unfavorable opinion of Reid. Two weeks ago, a small gully near Reid’s hometown of Searchlight was filled with cheering conservatives chanting “Vote Reid out!” amid signs that called him a socialist or displayed his image alongside Karl Marx’s.

This is not just your standard political rhetoric. Many of these people really hate Harry Reid. They wish him ill. Physically.

But why?

Reid has done plenty for Nevada during his decades in office, whether it be killing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump idea, securing more money to expand state highways, preserving the beauty of Lake Tahoe, or helping to forge an agreement to get an intrastate power transmission line built. His leadership is responsible for the recent health-care reform law signed by President Barack Obama, which will help thousands of Nevadans get medical treatment they never would have received otherwise.

For that, he’s a socialist? A traitor? Do his detractors even know what those words actually mean?

It’s understandable that Republicans would resent Reid for his political skills, his deal-making ability, the way he wooed former members of the GOP such as Jim Jeffords and Arlen Specter to the Democratic side. It’s understandable they’d dislike him because he can beat them, and because he embraces a moderate Democratic agenda.

But the intensity with which the right hates Reid is out of proportion to all that. It’s not just political differences, it’s as if he shot their dog. And their mom.

And it’s completely irrational, even in the modern age of zero-sum politics, when you destroy, and not just defeat, your opponents.

There’s just no explaining it.

8 Responses to “The out-of-control hatred of Harry Reid”

  1. Suck a D* Steve says:

    You need an explanation???

    I can sum it up really easy and I am sure readers will agree:

    HARRY REID IS IN IT FOR HARRY REID AND HARRY REID ONLY!

    He could care less about what he does unless he or his family is getting a piece of the pie.

    Good Luck swallowing the truth but then again, the only thing you know how to swallow is the garbage you just printed.

  2. Nice nom de plume, whoever you are. But thank you for proving the point of this column.

  3. ColinFromLasVegas says:

    There seems to be no specific explanation, Steve. And your article pointed it out, as well as the first commenter who seems to have some kind of oral fixation confirming it for you.

    I really think it’s just that…people in Nevada are frustrated, angry, wary, apprehensive and seem to feel they have no control over their future because of this current economic downturn. Mix with this the fact that they want to lash out at something. Senator Reid probably feels he is the only person standing on a stage in a roomful of angry vegetable vendors who all want to throw something.

    But I really don’t believe this pertains to everyone in Nevada. Senator Reid, just like all other public figures around the U.S., and his confrontations with people are being reported. And the supporters of Senator Reid are overlooked in the news. Because they are mostly the silent majority. In the news, especially the LVRJ, they absolutely LOVE to slap Senator Reid up and down the State. And this is the stuff that sells news.

    Another reason is that Senator Reid faces anywhere from 10 to 22 challengers in the upcoming election. Senator Reid is the only one that is a sure bet to take the brunt of everyone’s frustration. And he is the one that people target. Because there is not one of his challengers identified yet.

    Plus, you mix in the fact that he is a Democrat, and since he is associated with President Obama, there surfaces (in some cases) a hint of racist rhetoric. Guilt by association. Throw in sprinkles of Fox PORNO (stands for “Party Of Republican News Only”) attacks, along with 450 other outlets of far right television/radio personalities who all make money off of hate and fear vitriole. You can’t judge that tea party protest in Searchlight as the barometer. Because, as Senator Reid pointed out, most of those people weren’t from Nevada and will not vote, thereby being of no consequence nor do they represent the interests of Nevada voters. It’s all bluff.

    So, I really believe it’s not just one thing. It’s a combination of a lot of stuff. This will all stabilize out though when the Republicans choose a clear cut candidate for that Senator seat.

    One thing for sure is that Senator Reid needs to get re-elected. Because I don’t see anyone vying for his seat in Nevada that will be worth a damn.

  4. dave404 says:

    Colin hits it on the head. These people “seem to feel they have no control over their future because of this current economic downturn. Mix with this the fact that they want to lash out at something.” Something or someone that is non Republican of course…which is why Ensign’s mansion was not targeted by the Tea Party a few weeks back.

    Imagine if Harry Reid had lived in rent subsidized housing without declaring the benefit on his tax return and had a long adulterous affair with his best friend and co-worker’s wife and had made arrangements to pay off (er, help financially), the woman’s children and worked vigorously and possibly very unlawfully for the guy to get a job…”they” would have burned Searchlight to the ground!

    I only hope that Mr. Leader is still in Congress when the time comes to push through Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia.

  5. catherine hammelrath says:

    Thank you for an explanation. I have been wondering what causes this despicable hatred of HR. I grant he opens mouth, inserts foot, but …?? He is not a warm and fuzzy either. He is, well, just Harry. My family have been supporters since his early days. My mother would roll over in her grave if we changed now!! I do not necessarily always agree with him, nor do I always like what he does, but please … is there anyone running for office in this entire state worth voting for over HR? Angle scares me silly. The cat from lv.

  6. CT from Reno says:

    I would highly recommend that anyone “scared silly” by Sharron Angle get some facts about her stance on important issues. And from somewhere other than one of Harry Reid slash attacks.
    I can only hope enough Nevadans look into her platform and see that it represents a way forward from the crisis we are in.

  7. Mike laboissonniere says:

    There is much to despise about Harry Reid. Not only is he a despicable, whiny, mousey, little liberal turd…..everything he does is purely for party political gain or selfish reasons. Reid has no desire and lacks the vision to help this country. He is toxic and, as a career politician, he has become the epitomy of what is wrong in Washington by consistently abusing his undeserved power. The fact that he wanted tax-payer money to fund the Elko cowboy poetry festival is a microcosm of just how asinine Reid is. He should’ve been booted during the 2010 midterms but got lucky to squeak by an inexperienced and gaffe-prone Sharon Angle. Reid has become one of the worst, and most destructive, politicians in this country’s history. I am hoping Reid will lose his senate majority leader status after these upcoming elections, which would reduce the effect of his terrible influence.

  8. Steve says:

    There is a reason we in Nevada call him Whorehouse Hairy Reed – he screws everyone without even kissing them and make the taxpayers foot the bill!