Monday, December 06, 2004

Harry Reid: Is he the best we can do? The new Democratic minority leader presented a mish-mosh of centrism without any innovation, salted with ideas designed to pander to Republicans, including possibly abolishing the income tax and staking a strong anti-abortion position. Some samples from his "Meet the Press" appearance:

MR. RUSSERT: You also said this back in 1994. "I believe in a consumption tax. ...The income tax is not working as well as it should. I think we should do away with it." Is that still your view?
SEN. REID:... So what I say is if we can figure out a way to make our tax less burdensome and if we could go to a consumer based tax, I think it would be wonderful. But the transition rules of that are very difficult and I have looked into that. It's extremely difficult.

MR. RUSSERT: But the national sales tax or consumption tax is very regressive. Poor people get hit very hard with that as...

SEN. REID: No question.

Reid then backed off a bit from his pro-consumption tax views, but still stood by his anti-abortion stance, with some rhetorical fog-making added in to mollify any Democrats who might be listening:

MR. RUSSERT: This was the Associated Press about Harry Reid. "Reid voted with Republicans to ban a procedure that opponents call partial birth abortion. In 1999, he was one of two Senate Democrats who voted against an amendment expressing support for the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion."

Would you prefer to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade which allows legal abortions across the country.

SEN. REID: Tim, I have--my views on abortion are very clear. I've never tried to hide them. I think it's something that people understand about me. But I also understand that this is a very complicated issue, very difficult issue. And, you know, in our caucus, our Democratic caucus, we have wide-ranging views. My sister, as far--I don't have a sister, but as close as I have ever had to a sister is Barbara Boxer. Her views and my views differ. But, you know, we don't have a litmus test in the Senate with Senate Democrats...

And then to futher blur the differences with Republicans, he went on to make clear his opposition to gay marriage (although expressing feeble opposition to the proposed anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment):

MR. RUSSERT: You are a Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had a statement on marriage: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman."

Do you accept that message, the statement from your church?

SEN. REID: Tim, we have in America today many, many states--I don't know the exact number; I think 11 or 13 in this last election cycle--said there can no--in our state, you have to have marriage between a man and a woman. That's the law in the state of Nevada. And within a couple years, even Massachusetts, that will be the law. And we in Congress recognized there would be some controversy over this, so we passed the Defense of Marriage Act that says you do not have to recognize the marriage laws of another state. That's the law of the land.

Even for a party out of power, this is a depressing performance for a Democratic leader. There was no vigor in his presentation or ideas, and certainly no reason from his appearnce on the show that would inspire anyone to support the Democrats in Congress or in future elections.
MSNBC - Transcript for Dec. 5

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