Harry Reid hides be­hind Con­sti­tu­tion to hit Koch broth­ers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

When the founders in­cluded the “Speech or De­bate” clause in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, they wanted to pro­tect mem­bers of Congress from the whims of any out­side tyrant who might abuse the power of his of­fice to ha­rass, con­trol or de­stroy his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies.

To­day, in this pu­trid era of Se­nate his­tory, we re­al­ize it was a gross over­sight that the founders did not ex­tend such pro­tec­tions to or­di­nary pri­vate cit­i­zens from mem­bers of Congress. Even in their deep cyn­i­cism about the hu­man na­ture of politi­cians, the founders ap­par­ently never dreamed that a man like Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid would one day con­trol the U.S. Se­nate.

The spe­cific pur­pose of Ar­ti­cle 1, Sec­tion 6, of the Con­sti­tu­tion was to en­sure that law­mak­ers could carry out their du­ties in Congress with­out be­ing de­layed, ar­rested or jailed on trumpedup charges by po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies.

Fur­ther, “for any Speech or De­bate in ei­ther House, they shall not be ques­tioned in any other Place.”

This gave mem­bers of Congress the free­dom to speak as faith­fully and truth­fully as they could with­out con­cern that their po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies might later levy ret­ri­bu­tion against them. Mem­bers of Congress, in other words, were pro­tected be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter any of­fi­cial busi­ness from the un­bri­dled bul­ly­ing of tyrants out­side of Congress.

So what pro­tec­tions are there for the tax-pay­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zen from a tyran­ni­cal bully if that bully hap­pens to be a mem­ber of Congress us­ing his pow­er­ful po­si­tion to slan­der, smear and slime that cit­i­zen’s char­ac­ter and mo­tives? Noth­ing, ap­par­ently.

Take Charles and David Koch. They em­ploy some 50,000 Amer­i­cans and have spent hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars on char­i­ta­ble causes, ed­u­ca­tion and po­lit­i­cal ad­vo­cacy. Yet at the end of the day, the wealthy and suc­cess­ful broth­ers amount to noth­ing more nor noth­ing less than the most trea­sured Amer­i­can as­sets: pri­vate, tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens.

What re­spect does this earn from Harry Reid, the man who once pub­licly ex­pressed re­lief at the com­ple­tion of the $621 mil­lion Capi­tol Vis­i­tor Cen­ter (that you paid for) be­cause he would no longer have to “lit­er­ally smell the tourists com­ing into the Capi­tol?”

It has earned the Kochs more than 100 men­tions on the floor of the U.S. Se­nate in dis­jointed, con­fus­ing tirades by Mr. Reid.

He has called them “power-drunk bil­lion­aires,” ac­cused them of ly­ing and ques­tioned their mo­tives. There was a time in this coun­try when Harry Reid would have been shot dead in a duel over less.

“It is too bad that they’re try­ing to buy Amer­ica,” Mr. Reid said in one par­tic­u­larly in­co­her­ent di­a­tribe.

“It’s time that the Amer­i­can people spoke out against the ter­ri­ble dis­hon­esty of these two broth­ers who are about as un-Amer­i­can as any­one I can imag­ine.”

Mr. Reid has smeared the Kochs with such calumny, it is a won­der the Kochs have not sued him for slan­der.

Oh yeah. They can’t. Be­cause Harry Reid’s slan­der­ous speech is pro­tected in the well of the Se­nate.

Not only is Harry Reid pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion for slan­der­ing pri­vate Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, he is also pro­tected from the wrath of any other mem­ber of Congress who might want to re­buke him for such weaselly be­hav­ior. (For­give me. I don’t mean to in­sult weasels.)

That is be­cause Se­nate de­bate rules specif­i­cally pro­hibit any mem­ber from “di­rectly or in­di­rectly” sug­gest­ing an­other se­na­tor’s “con­duct or mo­tive un­wor­thy or un­be­com­ing a Se­na­tor.”

So Harry Reid is above the law when he slimes the Kochs from the belly of Congress and he is co­cooned in pro­tec­tion from be­ing jus­ti­fi­ably slimed by oth­ers.

Is there any de­scrip­tion for this truly dis­hon­est, un-Amer­i­can, trea­sonous con­duct other than “cow­ardly bully?”

For some time now, people in the cor­ri­dors of Congress and out­side ob­servers have in­creas­ingly won­dered whether Harry Reid is go­ing in­sane. Is he los­ing his mind? Is he in the grips of de­men­tia?

If so, I hope to be for­given for my harsh as­sess­ments of a sick man.

But you know what is even scarier than a crazed, power-drunk lu­natic abus­ing his high of­fice to tor­ment pri­vate Amer­i­can cit­i­zens? That there are 54 other duly elected sen­a­tors who again and again vote to make Harry Reid one of the most pow­er­ful men in the world.

Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com and on Twit­ter @charleshurt.

Harry Reid

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