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Harry Reid's Shield of Shamelessness
It's not hard to understand why so many people are upset over Harry Reid's baseless proclamation that Mitt Romney hasn't paid any taxes over the past ten years. After all, it's a pretty serious accusation, especially coming from a high-ranking politician like Reid who happens to be the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. If the public believes that Mitt Romney - an ultra-rich presidential candidate - managed to sidestep the Tax Man for an entire decade, it could very well cost him the election.
Fortunately, the charge won't stick. Even from inside the liberal bubble that is the mainstream media, there are enough consciences left in the punditry to concede that Reid's phony claim is nothing more than a partisan hatchet-job of the worst kind. In other words, Reid's anonymous source that supposedly provided him with Romney's tax information is about as authentic as the hair on Joe Biden's head.
Regardless, the sad reality is that Harry Reid accomplished exactly what he intended to. He got the media to focus once again on Mitt Romney's taxes, instead of on the latest, negative news on the U.S. economy. I don't blame Reid (or whoever instructed him to make his comments) for wanting to change the subject. A falling economic growth rate and a rising unemployment rate isn't exactly great news when your political party holds the presidency and the U.S. Senate, especially with a major election only three months away.
Republicans are hitting back hard against Reid with RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, going as far as calling Reid a "Dirty Liar". Normally, that sort of name-calling would be considered provocative and uncivil in our political discourse, but any intellectually honest person - regardless of their political affiliation - knows what's going on here, and they know that Priebus isn't out of bounds at all with his unflattering categorization.
Will Harry Reid pay a price for his blatantly dishonest rancor? Unfortunately, no. And that brings us to a much larger problem - one that could possibly be the most damaging element that exists within our country's cultural fabric these days: An absence of shame.
Like far too many people these days, Reid just doesn't care. It's as simple as that.
If he went down in the books as the biggest hack in the history of American politics, I don't think he'd really mind all that much. If he went down as the guy who fell on every sword the Democratic party laid out in front of him, I think he'd be totally fine with that. If a photograph of his face was displayed above the term "bald-faced liar" in every published reference book until the end of time, I think he'd just shrug his shoulders and chuckle.
Shame is what keeps people grounded. It's what keeps people honest. The greater the acceptance society has for people who have no shame, the worse off our society becomes.
In a perfect Democratic Republic, an elected official couldn't stay in power for very long if he or she had no interest in building and preserving their own, personal integrity. Harry Reid, unfortunately, is a product of what happens when a leader is not held to any standards and couldn't care less about what people think of him.
Reid has already achieved everything a career politician could possibly hope for. His net-worth is in the millions (no one knows why, of course, because he ironically refuses to reveal his own tax returns). He's a permanent fixture in Nevada politics thanks to the state's extensive, union-organized voter-outreach machine that transports every last porn-peddler and strung-out junkie from the Las Vegas Strip to voting booths whenever his name is on the ballot. He even got to see his own hand-picked presidential candidate, Barack Obama, become the leader of the free world. If you're Harry Reid - a man who's been chasing after political power since the late 1960's - life is very very good.
With that mindset of political immortality, however, comes a shield of shamelessness that shelters one's judgement from any internal qualms that might otherwise force them to say or do the right thing.
While our troops are in harm's way, putting their lives on the line to battle insurgents and terrorists in an intense war in Iraq, that shield might let someone proclaim to the world that our country has, in fact, already lost the war. Harry Reid, as some might remember, did exactly that back in 2007.
While speaking to a group of school kids, that shield might let someone proclaim that the President of the United States of America is "a loser", like Harry Reid did when talking about George W. Bush in 2005.
While in the midst of an economic crisis, that shield might prevent someone from allowing forth a federal budget, like Harry Reid has been guilty of for three straight years now.
While discussing the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, that shield might let someone publicly complain about how bad Washington tourists smell, like Reid did in 2008.
That shield might let someone have the gall to invoke the spirit of a political opponent's dead father in order to criticize that opponent, like Harry Reid did with Mitt Romney just last week.
Perhaps the saddest thing about the shield of shamelessness is that without demanded accountability and consequences, there's no motivation for people to ever stop using it. The problem just grows and dishonest drivel becomes the generally accepted method for debating serious issues. One has to only watch dueling cable news "analysts" toss party talking points back and forth for an entire segment to see how unproductive the result is. Nothing gets resolved and nothing gets taken seriously, yet we continue to look to the Harry Reid's of the world for leadership when people like him haven't the integrity nor sufficient interest to put any forth.
The only thing that matters to people like Reid is the prolonging of their own relevance, no matter the cost. Honesty doesn't matter. Character doesn't matter. And until voters demand it to end, the shamelessness will unfortunately continue on.