Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2022

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Ralston cries ‘Lame!’ as foes of Harry Reid cry foul

“I expect (Harry Reid) to vaporize (Sue) Lowden or (Danny) Tarkanian or whoever is the opponent.”

— Anonymous Reid adviser, Politico, 10/20/09

And this is a bad thing?

Here’s what’s not news: That Reid will do anything to win, as I told Politico for the same piece. (Actually, I amended that to “anything that’s legal,” but no matter.)

Here’s what’s news: That anyone trying to be objective in this race would denigrate the instinct to destroy the opposition in a sport where toughness and indomitability should be prized and where a killer instinct separates the effective pols from the also-rans.

Forget the hackneyed boxing metaphors for former pugilist Reid. And I shall refrain from my 9,874th use of the adjectives “ruthless” and ”Machiavellian” to describe the senior senator. But that Team Reid would have the mentality to scorch the earth — and I have been saying this for weeks, months, years even — to ensure he survives is not exactly a shocking revelation, if colorfully put by the Reid intimate.

You want a politician and accomplices who believe that survival is the fittest thing to achieve and by (almost) any means necessary. This can easily be justified, too: If a Republican wants to remove the most powerful person Nevada has ever elected, he or she should expect nothing less than encountering a chamber of real horrors.

Let me be clear: The election is light years away and the debate has yet to be joined about how Reid has used that unprecedented power for Nevada and whether his ability to wield that influence actually has benefited the state. And even if it has, does that counterbalance his willingness to carry water for the national Democrats and President Barack Obama, if you oppose that agenda?

That’s what campaigns are supposed to be about, and the question of how Reid has exercised that power should be the seminal issue for discussion. I am not suggesting it will be in the end, but the fact that Team Reid is willing to unsheath the vaporizer to defend his seat is no vice. Quite the contrary.

And that’s why I found the reactions of Tarkanian and Lowden to be so pathetically whiny. I understand with a comically crowded primary that both need every free media hit they can snare. But their ripostes were so weak.

“Nevadans have tired of Harry Reid’s angry, vindictive threats — but today’s threat is one that must be taken seriously,” Lowden said. “After all, Sen. Reid has shown remarkable skill in vaporizing Nevada jobs, Nevada homeowners, Nevada tax dollars, our seniors’ access to a solvent Medicare program and our residents’ private health care choices.”

My goodness. First, the statement didn’t come from Reid but one of his allies. Second, it was neither angry nor vindictive — just a statement of fact. Third, if Reid indeed has vaporized Nevada homeowners, why hasn’t he been arrested as a serial killer?

As for Tarkanian, at least he quickly put up a clever Web ad showing Reid being vaporized and put out this statement: “Sen. Reid’s reckless runaway government spending is vaporizing the economic recovery he promised Nevada. Tax relief for families and small businesses is what will turn this economy around.”

Not a high cleverness quotient there, folks. Those are the usual Republican National Committee talking points, which have been the limit of what any of these Reid foes have used so far, displaying little originality as they try to capitalize on Reid Fatigue and anticipate a GOP wave to carry them to victory.

And in so doing, they raise the question: If you have a choice between a guy who vaporizes and an opponent who whines about it, whom do you choose?

This is the only way, all other things being equal, that the senator can survive. And he knows it.

Reid has had only two serious Senate elections. In 1986 a Reid aide planted questions with a reporter at his opponent’s announcement that caused the easily perspiring Jim Santini to look sweaty and unsure. A Reid camera crew captured the scene. The image later appeared in a series of devastating “Which Jim Santini do you believe?” commercials. On Election Day, Santini was vaporized.

In 1998 Reid almost lost to then-Rep. John Ensign, who was much younger and much more telegenic. Reid’s campaign was not nearly so smooth as 12 years earlier, but Ensign, like Santini, was vaporized (by 428 votes).

So, yes, Reid will do anything to survive. And instead of whining about it, his opponents would do well to consider whether, even if they can cut the majority leader, they really want to bring a knife to a vaporizer fight.

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