MY COLUMN: Harry Reid packs a lot of nonsense into one week

Sometimes Harry Reid is crazy like a fox. But sometimes he’s just crazy.

I’m not suggesting non compos mentis, although I’m sure some Republicans, Bundyville residents and blog commenters might disagree. I’m saying that for someone who has long catalogued Reidisms, from the inartful to hyperbolic to nasty to just wrong, I don’t remember when the Senate majority leader has packed more “what did he say?” moments into one week.

From his patently false exaggerations about his favorite brothers from the Midwest to his nearly conferring sainthood on Sheldon Adelson, this was a week to remember, even for Prince Harry. And it’s only May.

It’s a given that whenever Reid does an interview, his combination of media disdain and relaxed demeanor will produce news. Accidents will happen. And quite often Reid will say anything, whether he’s talking about a president having a Negro dialect or being a loser. He also draws a tactical line closer to the ethical abyss than many would, saying just about anything to further his cause, with the best example being that repeated McCarthyite jab at Mitt Romney for not paying his taxes. (Turned out to be false, but Reid didn’t care. Jon Huntsman, Sr., told him, according to "Double Down" -- so it was fair game.)

Reid, as I have said before, generally does not care. Unlike most politicians, he doesn’t give a whit about his image or his approval ratings. He barely believes in polls. And after his 2010 exhumation, he believes no one can kill him.

(Maybe he’s not planning to run in 2016. I think he will, if he and his wife, Landra, who has had breast cancer, are healthy. But I could be wrong and he may just want season tickets to the Nationals to see his pal, Bryce Harper, as often as possible.)

Reid’s campaign against the Kochs is potentially smart politics, no matter how repetitive or annoying it may seem to junkies. Reid knows not just the minutiae of parliamentary procedure, but he is a master political metereologist. He always knows which way the political winds are blowing; and if he senses they are against him, he will try to change their direction.

No matter what he says publicly, Reid knows the Democrats are in big trouble this year. He can mock Nate Silver all he wants, but the man from Nevada knows the odds.

So Reid is trying to give the base something to fight against to create an atmospshere that will allow him to hold his majority in November. Through their Americans for Prosperity affiliates, the Kochs plan to spend $125 million to change Reid’s title. He needs to drive turnout, and with no presidential race on the ballot, he plans to create fear of a dystopian future with the GOP in charge, a Kochtopia where people must live without health care, without a reasonable wage, without immigration reform.

Just as he helped President Obama demonize Romney in 2012 as an out-of-touch plutocrat, Reid hopes to caricature the Kochs as out-of-touch billionaires willing to destroy the environment and ignore the less fortunate in pursuit of even greater wealth. He’s already at more than 100 Senate floor mentions of the Kochs and he may get to 1,000 by November.

But, as usual, Reid is not content to simply talk about what’s on the record. He has to rhetorically wander into nutty territory.

He repeatedly refers to the Kochs, as he did last week, as the “two richest men in the world,” which they are not. But it sounds better, right?

And also last week, he offered an inconvenient truth that is even more so because it is false:

“While the Koch brothers admit to not being experts on the matter, these billionaire oil tycoons are certainly experts at contributing to climate change. That’s what they do very well. They are one of the main causes of this. Not a cause, one of the main causes, Reid said.

Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler generously gave this absurd claim three Pinocchios  on his scale. This is slightly below the highest/lowest rating of four (a k a lies) and represents “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

As Kessler put it, “Certainly, Koch Industries contributes to climate change, but the relative impact falls well short of being a “major cause.”

Reid was not done with the Kochs – when is he ever? – and told NBC’s Chuck Todd the difference between them and another billionaire who likes to influence politics, Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson:

I know Sheldon Adelson.  He's not in this for money…. He's in it because he has certain ideological views.  Now, Sheldon Adelson, social views are in keeping with the Democrats on choice, on all kinds of things.  He just got a beef with-- organized labor a few years ago.  And he previously was a Democrat.  So, Sheldon Adelson, don't pick on him.  He's not in it to make money.”

Don't pick on him? Really, senator?

As I have written before, Reid has long practiced the art of keeping his enemies closer with Adelson, occasionally chatting with the man worth $38 billion. Adelson likes Reid; Reid likes Adelson.

But to say there is some moral difference between Adelson and the Kochs is a magical parsing that even the shameless Reid can’t possibly believe. The Kochs and Adelson are both ideological. They both want to make money. And, yes, Senator Reid, they both are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence politicians to do what they want, in some cases to undermine organized labor and in some cases to help them make even more money.

Oh, and they both would rather not see you be in your current job come January.

Salon’s Jim Newell captured it well and noted, “This is not a good look for Harry Reid. It’s obvious to anyone that the only reason Reid would say such kind things about Adelson, who drops a lot of money to defeat Democrats on the federal level, is because the two share a residency in Nevada.”

Reid wasn’t done, either. He told Todd, using the same number Obama has, that he, unlike LBJ, had to overcome 500 filibusters as majority leader. This is patently false. Reid, a process master, knows this. But – I know I say this all the time – he just does not care.

And why should he? What exactly is the penalty? He was still the Senate majority leader after spending 2012 using that execrable tactic on Romney. And he’ll still be the leader after November, no matter what he says about the Kochs or the Republicans he says are in thrall to the Kansas billionaires.

Harry Reid is willing to do and say the things his colleagues wouldn’t dare because they would be afraid of their approval ratings falling or being ousted from office.

Reid fears neither.

So as the majority leader gets older and more careless, perhaps, maybe we will keep seeing more weeks like the last one, where Reidisms become more frequent, Republicans wail in faux horror and YouTubes of their Enemy Numero Uno go viral. And Reid will keep doing what he has always done because the only vote he has to worry about is the one he surely believes he’ll never lose, the one inside his own caucus.

How crazy is that?