Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has been in the public eye far more than usual this year.
Sen. Reid holds the most powerful seat in the Senate and is strongly allied with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the House of Representatives.
Reid’s state has fallen on hard times. The unemployment rate in Nevada is 15%, compared with 10% nationwide. Las Vegas and Reno are renowned capitals of pleasure but few can afford to spin the roulette wheel or play the slots. Casinos and theatres are staying afloat but things ain’t what they used to be. The boom towns are reeling, but they are better off than the suburbs, where a large percentage of the houses sit vacant.
Senator Reid has incurred his share of the blame for the economic mess, but that is the tip of his Iceberg of Unpopularity. For one, he was instrumental in passing the healthcare reform bill to which Americans were overwhelmingly opposed. Cascades of phone calls, emails, faxes, and letters besieged every Congress member’s office, but Nevadans knew early on that their protests were meaningless to the Senator, who turned a deaf ear to his constituents, and lobbied with all his might for the bill. He ignored the taunts that he was a lapdog and went about his business. Many suspected that he and his powerful ally, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, were engaged in tactics that would not bear close scrutiny to obtain the support they wanted. Tales of backroom deals, and special interests, and payoffs ran rampant.
When the healthcare bill passed, Reid, Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama wore wide grins and congratulated one another, seemingly undisturbed by the ominous silence on the public’s end. After all, Barack Obama had promised the Democrats who voted for the bill that it would be a dim memory by November mid-term elections. And if not, hey, there was a back-up plan: Obama himself would graciously appear on the endangered incumbent’s behalf and sprinkle a little of his trademark magic over the situation – then voila! Re-elected by a landslide!
Landslide, landfill, ecology… that reminds me of something… oh yeah, Harry Reid’s other problem: the nuclear test site. Nevadans aren’t crazy about it. It’s not just the proven health hazards… there are unknown perils. Scientists still don’t know all the risks the site presents. So it may be understandable that people aren’t overly eager to set up shop anywhere near the place. In fact, they just want it out of their state.
Economy, healthcare, nuclear waste – nobody could deny Reid had obstacles to overcome in order to be reelected, but he had faith in the apathy of Americans. This faith was shattered by a piercing noise growing louder by the minute, until all we could hear was a shrill whistle. The Senator can be excused for not seeing that the Tea was about to boil. Nobody did. At that time, I thought (and wrote) that Americans had lost what made us special – that rebellious, independent streak. I’m glad I was wrong! The more left-leaning media outlets and activist groups abused the Tea Party as a second Ku Klux Klan thinly disguised as Republicans, and piled on the pejoratives. But the charges just won’t stick. For one reason, Tea Partiers are nearly 10% Democrat, and 35% Independent. It is also a narrow stereotype for a group who has in common just two things: fiscal responsibility and love of liberty.
It must’ve dawned on Harry this summer that the Tea Party was going to spell real trouble. For the first time, the five-term Senator was truly in danger of losing his seat and the criticism grew louder. The test site, once a minor annoyance, gets trotted out in every interview. Harry’s close relationship with the banks and special interest groups is inconveniently analyzed. Then Candidate Sharron Angle inexplicably rose in the polls, and suddenly he’s in a white-knuckled race for his own seat.