EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 12, 2012

Harry Reid, just another angry old white man

Taylor Armerding
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — It’s always amusing to hear old, rich, white guys complaining about other old, rich, white guys. They may be senior citizens, but mentally they’ve never really gotten out of middle school.

And this week’s poster “child” for that syndrome is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, one of the best at this juvenile game of hypocrisy. He’s been getting the most press for his crackpot, unsubstantiated assertion that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years while at Bain Capital.

But the most revealing moment, which didn’t get nearly as much publicity, came when he was warning darkly that the influence of independent political groups could give Republicans control of the Senate.

”Where the problem is, is this,” he told the Huffington Post. “Because of the Citizens United decision, Karl Rove and the Republicans are looking forward to a breakfast the day after the election. They are going to assemble 17 angry old white men for breakfast, some of them will slobber in their food, some will have scrambled eggs, some will have oatmeal, their teeth are gone. But these 17 angry old white men will say, ‘Hey, we just bought America. Wasn’t so bad. We still have a whole lot of money left.’”

It bears mentioning, at the start, that this is the Senate leader of the party whose president issued a self-righteous call for civility in political dialog last year, after Jared Lee Loughner shot 19 people, including then-Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, outside a supermarket in Tucson. Six people died, and Giffords, who suffered a severe head injury, eventually decided to retire from Congress.

This is a man who postures as a relentless advocate for senior citizens — a leader who will not tolerate age discrimination. Yet if elders are wealthy, politically active and don’t share his views, he mocks them for the kind of infirmities of old age that will come to everybody, including him, if they live long enough. He wants to talk about them drooling into their food and how many teeth they are missing. Classy – so very classy.

Memo to Dirty Harry: You, at 72, are an angry old white man. You are wealthy — at an estimated $2.6 million, not wealthy like the demonic billionaire Koch brothers on the right or the angelic billionaire George Soros on the left, but you are well into the 1 percent. The Occupy people are not just talking about Romney. They are talking about you.

If donating to a campaign means you’re trying to buy an election, then you are correct that conservatives are trying to buy the election. But so are liberals. You encourage it, when you exhort people to donate to your campaign or those of other Democrats. Have you somehow missed your president, Barack Obama, consorting with Hollywood millionaires, pulling almost $36,000 a ticket to fundraisers hosted by people like mogul Harvey Weinstein and featuring stars like Anne Hathaway, Aaron Sorkin and Joanne Woodward?

Or is it just that, for the past three months, the Romney campaign has been more successful at getting support than Democrats have for Obama’s campaign? The numbers for July showed Obama pulling in $75 million but Romney collecting more than $100 million. Let me guess — if those numbers had been reversed, you wouldn’t be complaining about anybody trying to buy the election. You’d be talking about the overwhelming support of the American people for the president.

Beyond that, for the entire election cycle, Obama has far outraised Romney. Since April 2011, he has raised more than $600 million while Romney is at about $300 million.

Beyond that, it was Barack Obama who broke a promise to stick with the public financing of elections back in 2008 — he was the first major-party candidate to do so — and then went on to raise and spend $750 million, while his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, was limited to $84 million.

Why no lament from you about buying the election? Why no mocking of angry, rich liberals having breakfast, drooling into their oatmeal?

Is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos trying to buy the gay marriage vote in Washington with his $2.5 million donation? Or will he be spared any such accusations, along with speculation from you on how many original teeth he has, because this is a cause you support?

This is not about your tired effort to promote Karl Rove as the most dangerous bogeyman in America. It’s not about the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which gives the same power to your public-employee unions as it does to corporations. And it is most definitely not about your moral objection to buying an election. You do that every time you run for office.

It is about trying anything to distract voters from the fact that the Obama agenda has not delivered even close to what was promised. If President George W. Bush had promised that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent if Congress just voted for a $787 billion stimulus bill and then unemployment was above 8 percent for 42 months, that’s all you would be talking about.

No wonder you’re angry, not to mention rich and old. Watch out for the oatmeal.

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Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net