My Interview With Senator Harry Reid

About a month ago I met Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the Senate. He was speaking on the UCLA campus about various issues, including his autobiography.

One thing he made crystal clear was that he felt that President George W. Bush had broken his word. According to Senator Reid, on two separate occasions, President Bush lied to him.

While I hope that this is a misunderstanding, I was delighted when Senator Reid agreed to do an interview with me by email. Given how passionately he spoke about the issue of integrity, I wanted to see if he walked the walk.

With me, he absolutely did. His staff was overwhelmingly gracious. In terms of cooperation, they might have been among the best I have ever worked with. The entire process took less than a month.
On more than one occasion, his staff emailed me or telephoned me to let me know that they had not forgotten about me. I made it clear that I more than understood. The man is busy. The entire Senate hinges on him. This is an awesome responsibility.

Promises were made on both sides. I gave the Senator my word that the top democrat could do an interview with a conservative republican blogger and be treated fairly. His staff vetted my blog, and felt comfortable that integrity would be valued on both sides.

More than one person I know expressed that the only reason the Senator agreed to do the interview was because (insert sinister motive here). This is unfair to Senator Reid because it makes him a bad guy whether he does the interview or not. Overanalysis leads to silliness. He graciously accepted my offer, and followed through. On this point, there is no reason to delve further.

I want to make it clear that I am absolutely not embracing many of Senator Reid’s policy views. He is left of center, and I am right of center. We have differences. Having said that, opponents should never be confused with enemies. I would absolutely break bread with the Senator.

Before meeting the Senator, I had two major concerns about him. The first concern was that he came across to me on television as dour. I don’t recall him smiling much. After learning about his hardscrabble life, I had a better understanding of him. He has had pain in his life that nobody should have had to endure. I have not walked in his shoes, and his serious demeanor is that of a man that has walked a long hard road.

The second concern I had about Senator Reid is his intense dislike of President Bush. I do not know if it is a hatred, but it is definitely a dislike that goes beyond politics. Senator Reid has given his reasons. I wish he felt differently, but again, his shoes are his own.

With that, I bring my interview with Nevada Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid.

1) Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is known to have expressed that those in the minority can
afford to resort to tactics, but leaders, especially the Majority leader, have to get things done. This involves working with the other side. What major legislation has become law because of your leadership, and which republicans did you work with to get these bills passed?
Senator Reid: Despite our differences with our colleagues from the other side, we have accomplished a great deal for the American people. For instance, last year out of the gate we passed sweeping lobbying and ethics overhaul, we passed legislation to implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, and with 17 Republicans joining us we passed funding for stem cell
research. Unfortunately, this bill was vetoed by this President. Furthermore, it was a bi-partisan group of Senators that fought for and passed legislation to provide health insurance for low-income children, which the President also vetoed. Not too long ago, a strong bi-partisan group of Senators came together and passed an energy bill, which for the first time in decades, raised CAFE standards.

2) To put it mildly, you do not have a warm relationship with President Bush. It appears to be more personal than political. How is your relationship with Senator John McCain? Given that he is a staunch backer of the War in Iraq, could you still work with a President McCain on other issues?

Senator Reid: I came to Washington with John McCain in 1982. I served with him in the House and we came to the Senate at the same time. I respect his service to our country. However, he is just wrong on the war and wrong on the economy. Despite our differences, as mentioned above we have always found ways to work with Republicans on a number of issues, accomplishing a great deal for the American people.

3) With gasoline prices reaching all time highs, some Democrats have talked about taxing the profits of the oil companies. Aren’t the real villains the foreign Middle Eastern governments? Doesn’t blaming
corporate America put us in a circular firing squad?

Senator Reid: At a time when oil companies are making record profits on the backs of American families, our neglected energy policy under this administration needs to be revisited. I think the better question is, how do we get America on the path toward energy independence, and that is something Senate Democrats have repeatedly worked to do. We passed and got signed into law the first increase in fuel efficiency standards in decades. We are also pushing energy legislation that seeks to roll back tax breaks for oil companies and invest that money in renewable energy, protects consumers from price gouging, forces big oil to pay its fair share, curbs market manipulation, and stands up to OPEC.

4) 2008 is a year of political boldness. Who are some people Barack Obama should consider for Vice President that have not been bandied about yet? What do you think of former Senator Max Cleland as a bold choice? Is America ready for a potential handicapped President such as Cleland, or New York Governor David Patterson?

Senator Reid: That is a decision Senator Obama can only make and I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do. As for your question about America being ready for a Vice President who is physically disabled, I think we should all give Americans more credit. Certainly the right person for the job is someone who can fully support the agenda of the Obama administration, being disabled has nothing to do
with that.

I would like to thank Senator Reid for taking the time out to visit the Tygrrrr Express. I again would like to thank his staff for their professionalism. The manner in which they dealt with me was exceptional. I would also again like to extend regards to the Senator’s wife Landra, who when I met her was as pleasant as they come.

With regards to issues, I still would prefer to see Senator Reid as the Minority Leader. It is not personal. We disagree on issues, and those disagreements are normal and healthy.

As for his charge that President Bush is a liar, I was not in the room. As for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell charging Senator Reid with being a liar, I also was not in the room.

What I can say is that with regards to me, Senator Reid absolutely kept his word.

I cannot in good conscience wish the Senator success from an electoral standpoint, but I genuinely wish him well personally.

eric

7 Responses to “My Interview With Senator Harry Reid”

  1. Micky 2 says:

    “Unfortunately, this bill was vetoed by this President. Furthermore, it was a bi-partisan group of Senators that fought for and passed legislation to provide health insurance for low-income children, which the President also vetoed.”

    Yea, I wonder if the 28 year old kids making 65,000.00 a year had something to do with that.

    “At a time when oil companies are making record profits on the backs of American families,”

    Sales are up, not the profit margins.

    “We passed and got signed into law the first increase in fuel efficiency standards in decades. We are also pushing energy legislation that seeks to roll back tax breaks for oil companies and invest that money in renewable energy, ”
    Increase in fuel efficiency means that we are talking about “gas fuel”
    Where is the oil going to come from if we are to be efficient with it ?
    What makes him think that the oil companies simply wont turn around and try to retrieve the cost of additional taxes from the consumer ?

    One way to pay for these tax breaks he wants to offer is to do away with the subsidies we are paying corn farmers.
    Ethanol has proven to be waste of money on a collosal scale from production costs all the way up to the consumer trying to buy a gallon of milk. Food costs would come back down and the revenues to be invested in renewable eneries would be greater than what the tax breaks alone would offer.

    I dont wish the guy any harm.
    I just wish he would go away.

  2. If only ceratin conservative bloggers would ask such probative questions of conservative public figures… Oh well, a man can dream!

    Of course, the answers were the usual Reidian median. So what more could you ask?

    As usual, Tygrrrr, you get the best interviewees on the blogosphere, and I wouldn’t hesitate to assume that your neutral style is the very reason you get them. Kudos to you, all the same. You’re brilliant.

    And I’m glad to see a politcal stance here. It’s been a while. Good ol’ insanely stupid Jersey McJones just happens to think, and have always thought, mass-market ethanol is about the most self-defeating idea since the popular ancient Aztec gameshow “Eat the Best Virgin.” (And I’m not speaking cunninglinguistly!) On the other hand, be careful when you speak of dairy subs – they’re all-American and worth every penny. πŸ˜‰

    JMJ

  3. Micky 2 says:

    Cunninglinguistly ?
    I’ve never seen anyone go so far out their way to just say “orally”

    By the time you get done saying it your tongue will be too tired.

  4. timbudd says:

    “I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and β€” you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows β€” (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid.
    You should of asked him if he stands by that statement.
    Also, maybe query him about his shady conflict of interest land deals (β€œThe Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002”. the Laughlin bridge, and not disclosing other land deals, among others).
    Does he still think Clarence Thomas is an embarassment? Am truly racist because I think the U.S. should have a single, unifying, official language, like he says I am?
    Continually saying we should trust the generals but then when they didn;t say what he wanted making disparaging comments about them?
    Break bread? I wouldn’t shake his hand.
    He is a poster child for what is wrong in DC.

  5. I think Clarence Thomas in an embarrassment to the judiciary period! The man was never qualified in the first place. GHWB only nominated him as a political middle finger held up to the nation on his way our the Oval Office doors…

    JMJ

  6. steveegg says:

    The Morning Scramble – 6/25/2008…

    In honor of ex-Milwaukee alderman Michael McGee/Jackson Jr, freshly convicted of 9 federal felonies, I present some more AC/DC (hopefully the alderthug doesn’t get any ideas of a jailbreak; they tend to end badly)…

    I was……

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