A Harried Screed from Harry Reid

Marc Sheppard
First, he dismissed Roll Call's assertion -- that the majority of "airdropped earmarks" in recent legislation favored committee members and vulnerable incumbents -- as just "somebody's news article."  Then, literally seconds later, Harry Reid suggested that Iraqis' resentment of American presence on their soil can be readily assessed - by reading somebody's news article.

When asked at Wednesday's Democratic Leaders Year-End Legislative Briefing whether the role of "airdropped" earmarks in the $555 billion spending package approved by the House on Wednesday betrayed the "restoring accountability" reform promise Dems ran on last year, Reid replied:

"I would suggest you read the bill, rather than read somebody's news article."
And then, as though suddenly unacquainted with my highlighted word's meaning, he made this rather odd statement:

"We worked very hard on this bill.  And any piece of legislation that we deal with, any appropriation bill, there are earmarks the president has.  That's part of the deal."
With no one in the gallery standing to challenge the peculiar gaffe, the Senate leader went on to suggest that Congressional pork was therefore necessary because "[the president] should not have total control over the appropriation process."  And, lest anyone in the crowd remain anywhere short of thoroughly bewildered, he added:

"So all this airdropping stuff -- this is a new term that has just come recently.  We followed the rules.  No one raised a point of order when it was in the Senate." [my emphasis]
Call me a knit-picker, but shouldn't the Senate Majority Leader understand the system he plays such a vital a role in enough to know that it makes no provision for presidential earmarks?  And that executive signing conditions, being completely transparent, are thereby analogous not to surreptitious but rather committee approved amendments?

And perhaps be familiar enough with this  "new term" - which has recently celebrated its first birthday -- to understand that "airdropped" earmarks are those added by conference committees after the bill has passed both the House and Senate?  And that, with all time for "points of order" having expired, and Conference Reports virtually immune to modification, these pork spending amendments are invariably adopted into law without the approval of either house?

Perchance that's what the reporter was getting at when he asked about "restoring accountability."

Is it any wonder that Harry would have us calculate the corrupt - which Heritage figures to be the second highest number in American history - amongst the 10,000-plus projects comprising this omnibus spending bill by suffering through its thousands of pages rather than trust "somebody's news article?"  What's more -- the news media have been known to get it wrong - right?

But get this -- when the very next question was aimed at his 2008 plans "on the Iraq issue," the dingy one directed the questioner to "look at one of your newspapers."  That's right -- Reid declared that the American people were "dissatisfied" and then offered extensive interviews reported by the Washington Post as proof that Iraqis were too, stating that,

"... all people in Iraq -- different Shia sects, all of the Sunni sects -- believe that the problem in Iraq is based on that invasion that took place, almost five years ago.  And they further believe that we're an occupying force and the only way that things are going to work out in Iraq is if we get out of there.
Of course, the report couldn't possibly affirm that all Iraqis concurred; nor did the WaPo piece, which cited many who blamed Iranian meddling for Iraq's problems -- not "that invasion."  Nevertheless, based solely upon selected passages of this -- "somebody's news article" -- Reid concluded that America was to blame and "that's how the Iraqis feel."

Notwithstanding the fact that the question was about legislative focus, and the response was another cloudy attempt to shift blame, let's briefly recap Harry's news article reliability scale:

Reports of tangible and verifiable numbers such as these from Roll Call are suspect:

"Of the 298 identified airdropped earmarks included in the bill over the past several weeks, 174 will go either to members of an Appropriations committee or to vulnerable incumbents. Members of the House and Senate Democratic leadership teams accounted for an additional 18 airdropped earmarks."

Yet those which report purely subjective focus-group findings and can be easily cherry-picked to support Democrats' surrender plans in Iraq are perfectly trustworthy - almost. Apparently not perfectly enough to be honest about their conclusions, which in this case concurred with military analysts in finding the results of the study the Senator painted so negatively as, in fact, quite positive:

"Overall, the report said that ‘these findings may be expected to conclude that national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible. In reality, this survey provides very strong evidence that the opposite is true.' A sense of ‘optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups . . . and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis.'"

So then, within a short span of 60 seconds, the Senate Majority Leader attempted to deflect allusions of Democrats' duplicity by crafting sentences monumentally duplicitous.  He also managed to respond to challenges to promises of accountability by either fraudulently confusing or wholly and palpably misrepresenting facts, thereby confirming himself to be all things but accountable.  And all while defending his party's failure to produce the results they promised their constituency on their two most infuriating issues.

And, while the press dutifully respected his Democrat "do not harass" pass on every passing faux pas, they surely sensed something amiss.

Watching them on the podium, it occurred that while not a single Democrat leader evaluating the waning First Session of the 110th Congress wore that expression of smug certitude with which they celebrated the session's birth, Reid emerged particularly despondent.

Perhaps responsibility for what another WaPo article referred to as the "first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years" being forced to limp out of Washington "mired at a historic low in public esteem" has proven too much for the frail-looking Nevada Senator.  As even the Post pointed out:

"Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush's powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit."
Yet during that same eerie 60 second Wednesday screed, Reid made this -- perhaps the strangest statement of all:

"The president did not get his priorities, we got ours."

Might the Captain Queeg-ness of the Leader's performance betray something more than a man in the midst of a face-saving political spin cycle?  After all, whether in consideration of his dismal record itself, or the thousands of articles eviscerating it, there can be but one conclusion: Reid's victory avowal transcends partisan gamesmanship.

It's sadly delusional.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.
First, he dismissed Roll Call's assertion -- that the majority of "airdropped earmarks" in recent legislation favored committee members and vulnerable incumbents -- as just "somebody's news article."  Then, literally seconds later, Harry Reid suggested that Iraqis' resentment of American presence on their soil can be readily assessed - by reading somebody's news article.

When asked at Wednesday's Democratic Leaders Year-End Legislative Briefing whether the role of "airdropped" earmarks in the $555 billion spending package approved by the House on Wednesday betrayed the "restoring accountability" reform promise Dems ran on last year, Reid replied:

"I would suggest you read the bill, rather than read somebody's news article."
And then, as though suddenly unacquainted with my highlighted word's meaning, he made this rather odd statement:

"We worked very hard on this bill.  And any piece of legislation that we deal with, any appropriation bill, there are earmarks the president has.  That's part of the deal."
With no one in the gallery standing to challenge the peculiar gaffe, the Senate leader went on to suggest that Congressional pork was therefore necessary because "[the president] should not have total control over the appropriation process."  And, lest anyone in the crowd remain anywhere short of thoroughly bewildered, he added:

"So all this airdropping stuff -- this is a new term that has just come recently.  We followed the rules.  No one raised a point of order when it was in the Senate." [my emphasis]
Call me a knit-picker, but shouldn't the Senate Majority Leader understand the system he plays such a vital a role in enough to know that it makes no provision for presidential earmarks?  And that executive signing conditions, being completely transparent, are thereby analogous not to surreptitious but rather committee approved amendments?

And perhaps be familiar enough with this  "new term" - which has recently celebrated its first birthday -- to understand that "airdropped" earmarks are those added by conference committees after the bill has passed both the House and Senate?  And that, with all time for "points of order" having expired, and Conference Reports virtually immune to modification, these pork spending amendments are invariably adopted into law without the approval of either house?

Perchance that's what the reporter was getting at when he asked about "restoring accountability."

Is it any wonder that Harry would have us calculate the corrupt - which Heritage figures to be the second highest number in American history - amongst the 10,000-plus projects comprising this omnibus spending bill by suffering through its thousands of pages rather than trust "somebody's news article?"  What's more -- the news media have been known to get it wrong - right?

But get this -- when the very next question was aimed at his 2008 plans "on the Iraq issue," the dingy one directed the questioner to "look at one of your newspapers."  That's right -- Reid declared that the American people were "dissatisfied" and then offered extensive interviews reported by the Washington Post as proof that Iraqis were too, stating that,

"... all people in Iraq -- different Shia sects, all of the Sunni sects -- believe that the problem in Iraq is based on that invasion that took place, almost five years ago.  And they further believe that we're an occupying force and the only way that things are going to work out in Iraq is if we get out of there.
Of course, the report couldn't possibly affirm that all Iraqis concurred; nor did the WaPo piece, which cited many who blamed Iranian meddling for Iraq's problems -- not "that invasion."  Nevertheless, based solely upon selected passages of this -- "somebody's news article" -- Reid concluded that America was to blame and "that's how the Iraqis feel."

Notwithstanding the fact that the question was about legislative focus, and the response was another cloudy attempt to shift blame, let's briefly recap Harry's news article reliability scale:

Reports of tangible and verifiable numbers such as these from Roll Call are suspect:

"Of the 298 identified airdropped earmarks included in the bill over the past several weeks, 174 will go either to members of an Appropriations committee or to vulnerable incumbents. Members of the House and Senate Democratic leadership teams accounted for an additional 18 airdropped earmarks."

Yet those which report purely subjective focus-group findings and can be easily cherry-picked to support Democrats' surrender plans in Iraq are perfectly trustworthy - almost. Apparently not perfectly enough to be honest about their conclusions, which in this case concurred with military analysts in finding the results of the study the Senator painted so negatively as, in fact, quite positive:

"Overall, the report said that ‘these findings may be expected to conclude that national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible. In reality, this survey provides very strong evidence that the opposite is true.' A sense of ‘optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups . . . and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis.'"

So then, within a short span of 60 seconds, the Senate Majority Leader attempted to deflect allusions of Democrats' duplicity by crafting sentences monumentally duplicitous.  He also managed to respond to challenges to promises of accountability by either fraudulently confusing or wholly and palpably misrepresenting facts, thereby confirming himself to be all things but accountable.  And all while defending his party's failure to produce the results they promised their constituency on their two most infuriating issues.

And, while the press dutifully respected his Democrat "do not harass" pass on every passing faux pas, they surely sensed something amiss.

Watching them on the podium, it occurred that while not a single Democrat leader evaluating the waning First Session of the 110th Congress wore that expression of smug certitude with which they celebrated the session's birth, Reid emerged particularly despondent.

Perhaps responsibility for what another WaPo article referred to as the "first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years" being forced to limp out of Washington "mired at a historic low in public esteem" has proven too much for the frail-looking Nevada Senator.  As even the Post pointed out:

"Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush's powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit."
Yet during that same eerie 60 second Wednesday screed, Reid made this -- perhaps the strangest statement of all:

"The president did not get his priorities, we got ours."

Might the Captain Queeg-ness of the Leader's performance betray something more than a man in the midst of a face-saving political spin cycle?  After all, whether in consideration of his dismal record itself, or the thousands of articles eviscerating it, there can be but one conclusion: Reid's victory avowal transcends partisan gamesmanship.

It's sadly delusional.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.