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February 1, 2015

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Jon Ralston:

Will Angle win by revising history, slandering Reid?

If you are one of the most powerful men in America and you have portrayed your opponent as unfit for office, you cannot stand next to her and not tower over her. You cannot appear side by side with a person you have described as essentially straitjacket-ready and make people wonder who is less qualified to be in the U.S. Senate. You cannot allow a woman who has reduced your quarter-century in the Club of 100 to a caricature to continue to paint that portrait without a spirited rebuttal.

But on Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid let it happen, appearing more bloodless than Michael Dukakis ever did and seeming lost in his own rhetorical world — the Hyde amendment and pink football helmets? I’m surprised he didn’t talk about reconciliation and bill markups.

So by the immutable laws of expectations, and by his own apparent disgust with having to be there, Harry Reid lost the debate to Sharron Angle.




There has to be — or at least should be — some sense of proportionality. Although any political campaign, especially by the end, is reduced to a mind-numbing superficiality where only buzz words reverberate, the most salient question about the U.S. Senate race, for which that debate provided a microcosm, is this: Has Sharron Angle, who makes stuff up, changes her positions and revises history, gotten away with it? And, more to the point, and this is occurring all over the country: Can candidates who are historical deniers and demagogic inciters cause passion to overrule rationality?

I understand many, many people think Harry Reid has been in the U.S. Senate too long (the most benign feeling) or believe he has been corrupted by his time in Washington (the least benign view). But if you get beyond the notion that Angle looked reasonably credible Thursday — and she did — you cannot get away from some truly mind-boggling and frightening things she said, which she has been doing for months, if not years.

When asked whether insurance companies should operate unfettered, not being mandated to provide any specific coverage, Angle seemed astonished at the question (“Anything at all?) and declared: “I think … what we have here is a choice between the free market and Americanism.” What?

Angle also flatly averred “Obamacare is destroying our economy” even though most of its provisions have yet to have any effect, accused Reid of giving “Social Security to illegal aliens,” a claim in several of her ads that has been debunked by objective observers, and flatly denied several positions, including eradicating the Education Department, that she is clearly on record as having taken.

There were several other examples, too, in the hourlong debate. And she said it all with a straight, smiling face.

But all that aside — and it is hard to put it aside — days later, I remain flabbergasted that during a U.S. Senate debate, one candidate flatly accused the other of venality, without any facts, and the other hopeful responded like Wally Cox to this calumny.

Here’s what Angle said: “You came from Searchlight to the Senate with very little. Now you’re one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate. On behalf of Nevada taxpayers, I’d like to know, we’d like to know, how did you become so wealthy on a government payroll?”

And while we’re at it, Senator, when did you stop beating your wife?

Reid, who is hardly one of the richest men in the Senate, tepidly responded that this was a “low blow” and talked about being a successful lawyer (brilliant!) and a good investor (more brilliant!), instead of directly confronting Angle with the facts.

Reid was a millionaire when he arrived in Washington in 1983. As veteran journalist Dennis Myers pointed out, the senator reported a net worth of $1.1 million on his first House disclosure 27 years ago.

Angle either knows that or doesn’t care. And she was doing what she has done the entire campaign, with her “Second Amendment remedies” lunacy and her “domestic enemies” echo of a deluded radio host: Play to the worst fears and visceral beliefs of voters despondent about the economy, alienated from government and looking for someone to be a repository for their bilious unease.

You know what that is, folks: It’s dangerous. But, alas, these days I don’t think it’s that extreme.

I know most people have made up their minds. I know many people in this state are upset with the country’s direction and Reid has to be, perhaps should be, a lightning rod. I know some folks are mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.




[email protected] / 870-7997

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  1. ...again, I'm left to wonder;
    What kinda nasty Angle-Juice did Jon DRINK on Debate Night???

    Jon knows Harry Reid.
    Jon is being TOTALLY disingenuous when he professes to be flabbergasted at Harry Reid's performance during the debate.
    Complete grasp and control of the facts.
    Wise as the day is long.
    A real, genuine love for the state he represents.
    A champion of "The People".
    And a little eccentric and a lot quirky.

    What IS your agenda here, Jon???

  2. Great analysis Jon. I appreciate the fact that you don't pontificate too much on your own political views, save the need for better education. I agree, Sharron Angle isn't my first choice for the job. I would have enjoyed seeing John Chachas get the nomination. He would be a better fit and not as controversial.

  3. Harry lost the debate, only because he didn't put her away when he had the chance. He came off as he normally does, that is who he is, mild mannered.

    Too many people that I know and respect are so disillusioned, are either not going to vote or going to vote for Angle. To be truthful, I do not want to vote for Harry, I feel that he has let the State of NV down. He has the majority in the Senate and he can't seem to get his agenda accomplished. He is not cable of getting his message across to the public and the republicans can. For example, "Man up, Harry" in the debate.

    I agree, if he is the most powerful man in the Senate, I must admit, I don't think so, he comes off as he is a weak old man. If someone that reads this can reach him, tell him he needs to show that he is the most powerful man in the senate, if it is not too late.

    Although, Angle's beliefs with the exception of stopping the taxation and government spending is a complete contradiction to mine, keeping more of my money is almost important enough for me to put the rest of my beliefs on hold for this election.

    What to do, what to do?

  4. Do you know that pursuant to the laws of the State of Nevada, it is VOLUNTARY for a candidate to sign the oath of fair campaign practices. Read the Nevada Revised Statutes. That's what it says. In other words, candidates don't have to sign and can say whatever the heck they want about their rival and it doesn't matter that it is a lie. This has to change folks. Not only should they be required to sign the oath in order to even become a candidate, it should be made a Class A felony if they violate it. You want smaller government. That's how you get it. Make it a law for these people to tell the truth.

  5. The short answer (if she wins the election) is yes.

  6. Never, ever vote Republicant.

  7. Angle did, in fact, defend her position on abolishing the DOE in the debate. She stated that she believes the control of the education of our children is better kept at a local level than being controlled in DC. I think she's right.

  8. To "NevadaConcernedCitizen": You asked why Reid can't get much of his agenda done? I submit that he is getting way too much of his agenda (and Obama's) accomplished! The "stimulus porkulus" and "Obamacare" issues alone are crippling us! How much more of this destruction can we stand? If they aren't stopped, they want to pass "cap and trade", another boondoggle that will blow the lid off energy costs to us consumers under the guise of "raising taxes on big energy-producing businesses". Not enough for you? How about the "value-added tax" and "national sales tax" initiatives they have waiting in the wings? They (Reid, Obama, Pelosi, etc.) aren't going to stop until they have all of us in soup lines. Then they will have total control of us, which is the secret agenda behind it all. I hope Reid is stopped in his tracks on Nov. 2.

  9. "SLANDER"? That's a powerful word, Ralston! Telling the truth is not slanderous. Reid tries to hide from his record, and for Angle to identify his record and call him on it is proper procedure. What is it about this procedure that gets to liberals? Oh, yeah, they hope that the things they do in the dark of night won't be brought to the light of day. Reid and his gang have to hide behind closed doors to pass their Marxist agenda. What happened to "open and transparent"? Oh, yeah, just another liberal lie.

  10. I watched this debate from New York with a group of friends who like me are interested in facts. We found Ms. Angle totally unprepared for higher office. Her grasp of policy was flimsy and regarding healthcare simply wrong. Sen. Reid is clearly no great debater, but he was clear on the facts, challenged her when she was wrong and stood strongly for the positions he championed. I am not certain what criteria were used to declare Ms. Angle the "winner," but her grasp of facts as well as her positions made her look silly not statesman like. This is not American idol. Nevada is a state which needs a helping hand; it needs someone with a grasp of the details of government to bring jobs to the state. Most important, it needs its citizens who have suffered greatly during this recession to understand what eliminating the safety net, which is essentially what Ms. Angle proposes, will mean in their lives. For us, there was no contest. I heard nothing from Ms. Angle that would explain what she would do to alleviate Nevada's distress. How could someon who tells a classroom of Hispanic students that they appear Asian be taken seriously here--or more importantly in Washington. The question the debate was meant to answer was who would be the better advocate for the State in the Senate, and I think that contest was won by Sen. Reid.

  11. Bottom line is that Americans don't care if Tea Party candidates have ever been elected to anything. They don't care that Tea Party candidates have some skeletons in their closet. They don't care that Tea Party candidates don't have golden tongues. Those attributes don't matter.

    The Americans I meet on a daily basis in grocery stores, restaurants, airports, gas stations and on Main Street USA -are- mad as hell and want true change in Washington. They know the only way they will achieve corrections is to send a new breed of politician to Capitol Hill. Let's send as many Ms, Mrs. and Mr. Smiths to Washington with their crowbar of common sense and tell them to swing it often. It is a target-rich environment. Jail-break that zoo and we jail-break ours.

    The only way out of this mess is new senators and new representatives enacting time-tested successful ideas and rejecting the time-tested failed ideas. Both lists are long.

    Our Founders made that first selection well. Now it must be our turn or we will get sicker and die.

    Clean house and clean it well this time.