Good Riddance, Dirty Harry

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Harry Reid is retiring. Whatever happens to his Senate seat in 2016, this is good news for Republicans and it is good news for America. Good riddance, Harry. Good bloody riddance.

Today we will hear a lot about Reid’s “service” to the Senate and to the American people. Ha! “Service” indeed. The truth of the matter is that Harry Reid is a stone-cold killer who has damaged Washington considerably, who has elevated his own political preferences above the institution he was elected to protect, and who has made worse the partisan rancor that our self-described enlightened class claims to abhor. The greatest service he can do America is to go away.

From a purely Machiavellian perspective, there is a strong case to be made that Reid has been the most effective federal politician in the United States over the last decade or so. In order to protect the president and to advance his movements’ goals, Reid has been willing to diminish the influence, power, and effectiveness of his own institution; in order to thwart his opponents, he has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to play dirty — a capacity that sets him apart even from other harsh players such as Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz, and Dick Durbin; and, in order to satisfy his own need to feel powerful, he has perfected the scorched earth approach that has kept Obama’s presidency on life support since November of 2010 (in my estimation, the Democratic party’s success during the 2013 shutdown was the product of Reid’s obstinacy and resolve, not Obama’s).

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey notes just how much chaos Reid has wrought:

By any objective measure, Reid has been a blight on the Senate and on Congress. He declared the Iraq war “lost” while Americans were still fighting there, and he derailed a budget process that had worked well before his ascent into leadership. He stripped the Senate of one of its debate functions after sabotaging the amendment process, and nearly destroyed regular order. On top of that, Reid used his post to commit McCarthyite character assassination of Mitt Romney, claiming to have inside knowledge that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years, a smear that turned out to be utterly false. He has been a malevolent force for years in American politics, and nothing he did in Washington will improve the place as much as his leaving it.

I can only imagine that the consequentialists among us  will consider these tactics to have “worked.” Certainly, progressivism is in better shape today because of Harry Reid. But for those of us who care about process, who do not believe that the ends justify the means, and who are concerned primarily about the integrity of the American constitutional and political order, Reid has been little more than a dangerous menace. I have not been one to take any delight in the terrible injuries that Reid sustained after his accident. Indeed, I wish him nothing short of a full recovery and a long life. I am just glad that the remainder of that life will be lived outside of the United States Senate and away from the political process that he has done so much to maim.

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