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John L. Smith On Reid's Anti-Trump Rhetoric

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AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nev., speaks with reporters along with Nevada's newly elected Congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

While most Democrats have been licking their wounds following the election of President-Elect Donald Trump, retiring Senator Harry Reid has not held back. 

Reid fired off a fiery response to Trump's election, which said:

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement about the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States:

"I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

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“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try. 

“If Trump wants to roll back tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”

John L. Smith talked to us about what is going on.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

What is behind Reid’s rhetoric?

I think there are a number of things going on. First, you can’t discount the fact that this guy has got a bully pulpit for a few more weeks and he plans to use it.

He looks at Trump as an egregious overstep for the American public and for the presidency. I think that a lot of what Trump has espoused is pretty much the opposite of what Reid has been standing for.

I get the sense that – and with Reid you never really know exactly what he knows and what he believes and those aren’t always the same thing – but I think that there is a sense that there is more to Trump’s problems than have been in the news. And he is certainly trying to fill that gap and keep that fired up.

It is a reminder to - from my perspective - that Harry Reid was always – it seems to me – more comfortable as a whip. More comfortable as a guy ready to fire up the public, fire up his troops, and also through his Senate career, to fire up anger in the opposition.

What do you make of Reid’s letter?

I think he’s clearly overstated it. There’s no question about that. But there’s some truth if you’re trying to reflect the rhetoric of Trump during the campaign. Now whether Trump – now this is the big question for America – is the president of that rhetoric or has some new calmer version of himself that’s a little bit more in the mainstream that remains to be seen.

But clearly, Reid doesn’t believe that’s going to happen. He’s – I think – trying to remind folks just to not forget what has been said by the candidate who is now the president-elect.  

What does Reid do when he gets out of office? Can he go back to being the nation’s whip?

It’s always possible. With a guy like Reid, he is well suited for column at a website or a newspaper – perhaps.

But the other part, after seeing him cast a vote with his wife Landra, I was reminded that he’s been in this fight for an awfully long time. He might just be content with relaxing and showing up on a Sunday talk show once in a while to give his considered opinion.

Do you believe that?

I do not!

I think there will be a memoir part two. If he’s got the energy for it, I’m sure it will be all full of epithets.

Reid’s political machine has been well documented. It helped Nevada buck a national trend and elect Democrats to a number of top positions. How do you overcome this?

I think Harry Reid took the investment of the opposition in Nevada  - most of that investment coming from outside the state in the form of the Koch brothers and others – I think he took it pretty personally. He’s taken a great deal of pride in his own machine, getting out and rallying folks, whether they’re organized labor related or not. Taking the Democrats of a previous generation and giving them the 2.0 treatment. And it was obviously successful in Nevada and not successful elsewhere.

Are the Democrats going to have smooth sailing in the Legislature?

I think absolutely not. After being so generous with room tax revenues and tax set asides, the fact that there’s a $400 million deficit – and there might be a revise of that right before the session. I would assume that it will be written down with some new accounting – but when you look at the Democrats are now the one’s with the short checkbook and that’s a challenge for a party that wants to press out and expand funding of public education, higher education. Clearly, they’ve got a potential ally in Governor Sandoval but the bottom line is where the money is going to come from. 

Faraday Future came in with a lot of fanfare but so far not much has happened and now there are some financial issues. Talk to us about that:

Poor North Las Vegas. The Rodney Dangerfield of Nevada towns takes another one on the chin. Faraday has missed payments to contractors, depending on how you’re doing the accounting its either $25 million or about $55 or 60 million. That all sounds like a bunch of money, but what we should all be focused on is whether the state is releasing its largess that it agreed to.

There are a couple of things going on. I think Faraday will continue down the pipeline. They’re already promoting stories and we’ll see if these are just forward looking statements, like you see with penny stocks sometimes. But they’re talking about the CES show in January, a car that’s ready to go with a 300 mile range. Hopefully it will have two seats, because last year’s model only had one.

There’s that issue. But there is also another issue over at Apex. A lot of landowners there for a long time have been wanting infrastructure improvements. Those are very costly items. We’ll see if that is part of process that it goes forward.

Guests

John L. Smith, contributor 

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