The Politics of Goofiness

By Jeffrey Page

You think New York is a political circus?

In this year’s senate election in Nevada, the incumbent is the hapless Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, who alienated millions of people out of jobs and maybe out of hope with some ill-conceived comments. He’s being challenged by the treacly Sue Lowden, a woman in her own sentimental dream world.

Let us begin with Reid and recall that skin-crawling moment in March when he hauled himself in front of the microphones to discuss the February jobs report. Labor observers had anticipated a loss of 75,000 jobs. The actual loss was 36,000. Reid should have celebrated the unaffected 39,000, expressed some sympathy for the 36,000 newly unemployed people, and called it a day.

But he blew it with a line that will be remembered when Nevadans – those with jobs and those without – go to the polls this fall. He said: “Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”

That’s an accurate quote. Democrats will complain that it was taken out of context, but there are 36,000 people who will remember it as the message from a man who doesn’t care much. The Republicans raised a good point when it suggested that Reid ask a few of the 36,000 people whom had lost their jobs in February how “really good” the numbers were. It’s virtually assured that Reid’s gaffe will be replayed time after time in GOP campaign ads this year.

But wait. Just when you thought Harry Reid is a blithering idiot, along comes the blithering Sue Lowden, who is Reid’s likely Republican challenger. Lowden has some ideas about medical coverage and insurance she’d like you to know about.

She said: “You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say [to the doctor] I’ll paint your house…. In the old days that’s what people would do to get health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.” (A chicken for an office visit is a “system?”)

First of all, Lowden knows nothing of days when you might have paid the doctor with a chicken since she’s only 57 years old and doctors weren’t accepting chickens in lieu of payment in the years after 1953.

Second, to fully appreciate the cynicism of her chicken-in-lieu-of-cash recollection it is important to note that Sue Lowden and her husband are worth about $50 million and never – even if they live to be 100 – will fret about their ability to obtain and pay for the finest medical care available. You and I may know people who’ll decide to save money by cutting their prescription dosages in half. But the Lowdens never will have to do that.

Chicken for treatment, indeed. I must quote the inimitable Gail Collins of the Times, who said recently: “Lowden has yet to explain how much poultry it would cost for a colonoscopy.”

Lowden’s health care solution places her in the jabbering wing of the Republican Party that believes if you stand on the shore of the Bering Strait as the fog lifts you qualify as an expert on Russo-American relations because you’re facing Russia 55 miles across the water.

If elected, Sue Lowden presumably would go to Washington loaded with uncomplicated, easy-to-understand solutions for other problems we face.

Education? Dismiss all those high priced teachers.

Taxes? Just end ‘em.

Immigration? Dig a 5,000-mile trench wide and deep.

Jeffrey can be reached at

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