Sunday, July 11, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Shame on Sherm.
This is not one of those “pick on Sherm Frederick” columns I have written from time to time. I used to enjoy picking on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s publisher because Sherm and the Review-Journal always made it so easy to find fault with the quality — or lack thereof — of the journalism they practiced.
Frankly, there have been far more important matters to discuss these past couple of years: For instance, in this economy, particularly in Las Vegas, people are hurting like never before. And what do Las Vegans intend to do about the mess we have allowed ourselves to get into by not investing in our infrastructure the way we knew we should? What do we do about water? How do we get past the polarized politics that prevent Nevada from fulfilling what should be a brilliant future? What do we do about our public education system?
The list of challenges and questions go on and on, so you can see why what Sherm and his reactionary newspaper do had to take a backseat to the more pressing problems of the day.
Last week, Sherm stooped to a new low — even for him — when he attacked Nevada’s senior U.S. senator, Harry Reid, by accusing him of being unfaithful to the men and women of the U.S. armed services and less than supportive of the United States’ efforts in Iraq. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the truth is that Sherm knew it.
But, for some reason, that streak of decency the Review-Journal’s publisher shows from time to time was overtaken by his blind desire to end Harry’s career of public service in favor of Sharron Angle. And that is why I can’t stay silent.
Too much is at stake for Nevadans to allow the Review-Journal to get away with such a despicable attack on a man of good conscience, great decency and unwavering commitment to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. Some things must not be fair game in this political world, and a person’s patriotism — without valid cause — should not be challenged.
Yet that is exactly what Sherm did when he drudged up a statement Harry made a few years ago. Yes, Harry said “the war is lost” when referring to the status of America’s efforts in Iraq. And, yes, that was just one more example of why Harry is well-known for thinking one thing and saying it so very different. In short, malapropism is one of Sen. Reid’s endearing strong suits. It is an affliction most of us wish he did not have.
But, like all of us, Harry Reid is not perfect and so we have to cringe from time to time when he tries to say one thing and doesn’t quite get there. In this case, what Sen. Reid was saying was what many, many military experts, including Gen. David Petraeus, were saying, which was that President George W. Bush’s stubborn insistence that Iraq could be won militarily was bad strategy. What this country needed to do was have a political, social, economic and military strategy if we wanted to have a long-term victory in Iraq.
So, Harry said it wrong. The fact is that President Bush changed his strategy and incorporated what Harry and others were urging him to do. Gen. Petraeus’ surge was based on that strategic shift, and the uncontrolled deaths and untold destruction of American lives have been significantly reduced ever since.
Harry was right, but he just said it wrong. Everyone knew that, but some people — for political points — refused to let it go. And now, here comes Sherm resurrecting those words and coupling it with an implication that Sen. Reid has turned his back on this country’s military men and women and the veterans they become.
Nothing could be further from the truth and Sherm knows it, but he wrote it anyway. Why?
I will get to that in a moment. For now the record must be made absolutely clear. When it comes to health care, housing needs, tax breaks, raises and every other form of help for our military personnel, it is Sen. Harry Reid who is at the forefront of those efforts.
Sen. Reid secured the funding for a 90-bed veterans hospital and a 120-bed long-term care facility for veterans at the Southern Nevada Veterans Complex. No one else did that or could do that! And you don’t see Nevada’s military installations closing on Harry’s watch, do you?
No, Sherm attacked the wrong man when he questioned Reid’s commitment to the people in uniform who give their lives to protect us at home. It was wrong, it was low and it was un-American.
Now the “why.”
The Review-Journal is owned by people who don’t believe in government. Beyond the obvious need to provide for our common security, most other institutions of civilized governance — public schools, environmental protection, worker safety, food and drug security, etc. — are unnecessary, according to those folks. That’s why they rail at every chance against taxes. Without taxes there can be no government. And without taxes, that means more money for the owners back in Arkansas.
Sherm hews to their party line. That means Sharron Angle is the darling of the Review-Journal, so he will do anything and everything to pull the wool over the eyes of that newspaper’s readers, at least until after the November election.
Everything that newspaper and its people do between now and the election is designed to save the owners tax money and fundamentally change the nature of government in this country. Not just tweaking, mind you, but completely dismantling it!
That’s why Sherm has stopped at nothing and stooped so low by attacking our senator’s patriotism.
Sherm, have you no shame?
Brian Greenspun is editor of the Las Vegas Sun.