Guy Farmer: Reid, Kerry blast from the past
It was like deja vu all over again earlier this month when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and ex-Secretary of State and failed presidential candidate John Kerry got together at the University of Nevada in Reno to talk about the good old days when they ran Washington. Those days are long gone, however, and for better or worse it’s a brand new ballgame in our nation’s capital city.
Just to be a wishy washy moderate, I’d say things are better in some ways and worse in other ways since the Reid/Kerry era in Washington, which is still mostly disconnected from Middle America despite President Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” Unfortunately, Trump, a narcissistic bully, is totally focused on himself rather than on what’s best for America. But let’s get back to Reid and Kerry in Reno.
Reid, originally from tiny Searchlight, lamented “polarizing political rhetoric and diminishing bipartisanship as a ‘peril’ to democracy,” which was the height of hypocrisy because he was a hyper-partisan majority leader who helped polarize Washington politics. I’ve known the retired senator since he was ambitious and feisty “Pinky” Reid, a protege’ of popular Nevada Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, who was Reid’s high school civics and history teacher in Henderson.
I had followed Reid’s political career ever since he served in the Nevada Legislature and as chairman of the state’s powerful Gaming Commission. And then he went to Washington, first as a congressman before moving onto the Senate in 1987. I was a big Harry Reid fan way back when because he was strong on Nevada issues starting with the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, which he fought against the way he battled opponents in the ring as an amateur boxer.
As time went on, however, Reid moved further and further to the left until he was one of ex-President Obama’s most fervent defenders. But as Reid became more “progressive,” he became less popular in Nevada until he decided not to run for reelection in 2016. I thank him for his service to the Silver State and question his late move to the far left. Early in his career, however, he was how I describe myself — a moderately conservative, states’ rights Nevada Democrat.
Now, what about John Kerry, who shared the stage with Reid at UNR earlier this month? He’s a prime example of a privileged, opportunistic establishment politician who turned against the men and women he fought with in Vietnam, eventually throwing his medals over a wall in Washington. He was a weak Secretary of State and a terrible presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2004, almost as bad as Hillary Clinton was in 2016.
Who can forget wealthy Boston patrician Kerry trying to act like a regular guy by carrying a rifle on an phony hunting trip, the way Obama did in 2012? Those images were almost as off-putting as that bizarre video of another anti-war Democrat, ex-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, riding in a tank. Remember that embarrassing spectacle? Where is my hero, Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson of Seattle, when we really need him?
So what did Kerry have to say in Reno? He praised high school students for walking out of class to protest the horrific Parkland, Fla., shooting and “bemoaned the country’s increasingly cash-driven politics,” according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. This from one of the wealthiest people in national politics, thanks to his marriages to a pair of rich women.
I’ll look forward to the next installment of the Harry Reid Public Engagement Lecture Series, but hope the next one is less hypocritical.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.