Mormon Hero

Mormon hero

Allow me to make a prediction: by 2030, if not much sooner, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will be regularly mentioned in a highly positive way by the Public Communications department of the church when the question comes up about Mormon involvement in civic affairs. As perhaps the crucial player in making it likely that the United States government will introduce general egalitarian reforms in how health care is delivered and paid for around the country, his accomplishments will not be ignored by a church intent on making it clear to the curious that our Christian principles were not in any way officially limited by the particular political culture of the Intermountain West.

Which is really just a long-winded way of saying that we Mormons are eventually going to be hearing Reid’s name a fair amount, and so we might as well get ahead of the curve right now.

Let’s be clear: I’m not a big fan of the health care bill that, early this morning, Reid and his people started moving towards all but inevitable passage. (“All but inevitable”: Senator Lieberman could change his mind, again; Senator McConnell could go insane and open fire upon his colleagues with that concealed handgun he no doubt carries with himself everywhere; a meteor could strike the Senate building, expressing God’s disapproval; etc.) I like it, but I don’t love it, for reasons which can be considered and debated, if you so choose, over here. For purposes of this post, I’m making a simpler claim: that Senator Reid has managed to pull off something quite remarkable, and that by managing it, he has likely made himself, a Mormon, one of the indisputable heroes of the quest to create a broader social welfare net in the United States. A little surprising, that.

Was holding together 60 Democratic (actually, 58 Democrats adn 2 independents) votes in the face of near-total Republican opposition over a heavily compromised, undeniably convoluted, constantly changing bill really that remarkable of an achievement? Yes, it was. The U.S. Senate, designed to be an aristocratic deliberative body that would balance popular interests against those of the collective states, has evolved over the past few decades into a maddeningly undemocratic supermajority institution, where the threat of a filibuster–not an actual filibuster, mind you; hardly anyone ever does that anymore–forces Senate leaders to get 60 out of 100 senators to agree to even bring legislation up for a formal vote. It didn’t used to be that way; as recently as 40 years ago, when President Johnson’s Democratic party passed Medicare legislation, and back when opponents in the Senate would actually filibuster legislation, as opposed to preventing votes from being cast in the first place, the job of the Senate majority leader was much easier: in the end, they just needed a majority of the body to agree with them. Reid needed a majority, plus nine more. That he was able to do so, despite massive opposition on both the left (who hate all the deals Reid has been forced to make) and the right (who just don’t want anything in the bill to pass, period), was improbable from the start. The vote this morning signaled a remarkable achievement for Reid.

A lot of people dislike Reid–a large number of them in his home state of Nevada. He seems like an angry man, a tough talker, a loudmouth and a grump. But by all accounts, his fellow Democrats in the Senate adore him. He approaches the Senate the way more than a few of us Mormons might recognize as how one approaches discussions in Sunday school, or debates in ward councils….or how general authorities approach their own councils, for that matter. Constant gentility, frequent apologies, no personal disagreements being voiced publicly (they’re to be whispered fervently in the foyer, of course), and with an overriding commitment to consensus, loyalty and unity ultimately leading everyone to a conclusion. Perhaps not a great conclusion, maybe not even a very good one…but a conclusion nonetheless, with the alternative–dissolution, the group falling apart and everyone going their own way–being seen as too terrible to contemplate. If hardball tactics are called for, then they’ll be used, but only in the least confrontational manner possible (like waiting until someone is out of town to take a vote). In truth, Reid’s negotiations with his Democratic caucus sound, to me anyway, like nothing so much as a stake president trying to stay on schedule during a meeting with his ornery, long-winded, opinionated High Council.

Which suggests another possibility to me: that perhaps Reid’s presence as the Democratic leader in the Senate was…providential. A window opens for the most powerful nation in the world to learn a lesson from some of its less-powerful allies, and actually pass some legislation that, one way or another, reflects a broader set of social concerns than any that had been passed in more than a generation. But standing in the way was the Senate. The charisma and speaking skill and moral passion of a Senator Obama actually probably wouldn’t have made a bit of difference there. But the patient, determined working of a man who believes his party membership and ideology is a demand of his faith, and who, though Senate Majority Leader, still gets his home teaching done? Maybe God cares about what happens in Washington DC after all. At least, I bet, once all the dust settles and the American public moves on to the next controversy, that’s something you’ll hear the folks at Public Communications saying occasionally. (Though off the record, of course.)

Comments

  1. This post puts into words a lot of the same things I have been thinking. Thanks, Russell. And thanks, Harry.

  2. Agreed. Here’s hoping Harry can get re-elected next year.

  3. I wish I lived in Nevada just so I could campaign for Harry.
    He gave a phenomenal forum/devotional at BYU last year. What a good guy! And I also tend to agree with him.

  4. I think that this is the reality for Reid and his cohort right now.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/obama_and_democrats_health_care_plan-1130.html

    This legislation is very unpopular

  5. I learned as a young man that nothing good happens after midnight. If Harry and crew were so happy with the results of their sausage-making, they would have conducted their business during the light of day, not in the dark of night after a lengthy cloak-n-dagger hide-the-bill-a-thon.

    History will tell the tale, but in my opinion, this was not a shining moment to see how the wheels of governemnt turn.

  6. I’m surprised by the number of members of the church, when finding out that Senator Reid is LDS, ask the question, “Is he active?”.

    I know that the current bill is not popular, but still, if nothing else, needs to be recognized for eliminating the preexisting condition limitations on health insurance, and getting insurance available for many that have been unable to afford it in the past. Senator Reid has indeed pulled off a remarkable achievement in the face of so much opposition by both the extreme right and extreme left. I remember when he was elected to the position of Senate Majority Leader that many of the qualities listed here were addressed: tough, pragmatic, hard-nosed but compassionate and highly principled.

  7. Like his politics or not (and none of my family members who still live in Nevada do — more’s the pity), Senator Reid and his family are fine Latter-day Saints. He’s an honorable man. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know him and is letting his own politics get in the way of his own honesty.

  8. I appreciate the point you’re making, Russell, but I fear that this will be remembered differently by most. The deal-making, the vote-buying, the requirement that most Americans acquire health insurance (which sure is nice if you’re an insurance salesman); these aren’t beautiful stories, but rather political gamesmanship between liberal democrats, moderate democrats, and all manner of lobbyists.

    What is amazing is that they pulled it off without the Republican Senators even participating.

  9. Despite having a 60 Democrat majority, Reid appears to have barely got this legislation through, which shouldn’t be that great an accomplishment. Unless you consider it remarkable that he was able to pass such an unpopular, ever-changing hodge-podge that no one really understands. I guess if he can pass this he can pass anything, but does that make him a “Mormon Hero”?

    I guess Reid was successful in getting a consensus if you consider the massive bribing favors that were promised to win Democratic Senators from Louisiana and Nebraska (among others) consensus building. But I don’t think stake presidents work that way. The only consensus attempted was with Democrats and when you can’t get assistance from the very-moderate GOP Senators like those from Maine that says a lot about Reid’a abilities. He was able to hold his caucus together, that’s it. I thought bipartisanship used to be a good thing.

    And as for being genteel, I don’t know how comparing the powerless, minority to the slave apologists as becoming of a “Mormon Hero.” For a guy holding all the cards, you would think he have a little more restraint but he just can’t help himself.

    As the most prominent Mormon political leader, I’m sure he will have a long legislative legacy. Just like Senator Smoot.

  10. Until we have a government that recognizes fiscal sustainability as a necessary predicate to implementing ideals, we’re toast–but that isn’t the point of this post.

    As for Senator Reid, I so want to defend him. But his public discourse is so acerbic (contrary to the post, I know), particularly the tagging as “hate mongers” those wanting healthy debate about health care reform generally, that I find it very difficult to raise his banner. Comparing this messy healthy bill to emancipating slaves and womens’ suffrage? Not quite. I thought the tone of his BYU forum also left a lot to be desired. There, he could have made one of the great statements of all time about public service as a gospel virtue, and yet he again wet the bed with unnecessarily polarizing comments (see comments about the late prophet, President Benson, that he made that same day).

    So I’m torn. I find myself wanting more from one who is willing to hold himself out as a representative of my church and that holds such significant public influence. Don’t mind his politics, though. That’s his choice.

  11. Thanks for this, Russell.

  12. I’ll add that I believe Sen. Reid’s prominence has been a good thing for the Church as he’s shown that Mormons can be Democrats and don’t have to be Republicans. That’s good.

    But as others have noted his rhetoric is very sharp and far from what this posts suggests. Among the other cited examples, as soon as he walked out of his BYU devotional, he attacked right-wing christians as the most unchristian people he knew, while still on campus. And he has called Pres. Bush a jerk and loser.

    A lot of nasty rhetoric gets thrown around but usually leaders let their surrogates take the low road. But not Harry Reid. He’s very self-reliant in that regard.

    You may agree with his views but I don’t see how he qualifies him as a great example of a “Mormon” politician.

  13. As far as the bill is concerned. I am really curious to see what will happen when millions of 18-25 year olds living at home or with roomates start getting hit with fines for not carrying insurance. What a mess that will be.

  14. Me,

    I learned as a young man that nothing good happens after midnight.

    I trust there will be many Mormons passing that concern along to Republican senators like Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, as it Republican procedural tactics that are forcing the Democratic majority to delay every cloture vote until the end of a 30-hour waiting period. The votes exist for this bill to pass right now, in the daylight, at this very moment. The Republicans aren’t letting it happen.

    David,

    The only consensus attempted was with Democrats and when you can’t get assistance from the very-moderate GOP Senators like those from Maine that says a lot about Reid’a abilities. He was able to hold his caucus together, that’s it. I thought bipartisanship used to be a good thing.

    Reid spent the entire summer and autumn trying all sorts of ways to bring Republican ideas into the mix, and Republican senators into the bill. Enlived by the Tea Party and Birther maniacs, otherwise reasonable and intelligent Republican senators decided to refuse every compromise offer. Even Snowe, in the end, backed away, bowing the the procedural mandates of her caucus. If bipartisanship didn’t happen on this bill, it didn’t happen for two reasons: 1) the Republican leadership, when confronted with a Democratic majority, said “No bill by any means necessary” rather than buying into and thereby helping to shape the bill, and 2) because the Democratic majority was enough to survive fillibuster threats. Barely.

  15. Harry will lose reelection if I have anything to say about it. And you better believe I will be donating to his opponent. I disagree completely with your assessment, as this legislation is a shell of what was originally proposed. While some will argue that something is better than nothing, this in fact will equate to nothing. US legislators are perfect as creating legislation with mass amounts of loopholes, holding no one accountable, and doing anything but overhauling and bringing about the necessary change. He, like all the other modern politicians, will go down in history as those responsible for ‘the end.’ Thank you, Harry, thank you. I can’t wait to not ever hear him voice his opinions in public again. Will next November get here soon?!!! Not soon enough.

  16. Steve Evans says:

    (making popcorn, sitting back and enjoying the show)

  17. David,

    You may agree with his views but I don’t see how he qualifies him as a great example of a “Mormon” politician.

    This is a fair point, and one I wondered about in writing the post. Obviously, what he’s doing isn’t “Mormon” in any kind of substantive sense. He’s a Mormon, and what he’s doing can be arguably aligned with (some) Mormon priorities, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a “hero” to Mormon causes or the Mormon people, any more than Steve Young ever was. So how am I using the label? Pretty simplisitically, I’ll admit: he’s a member of the Mormon church who has pulled off something difficult, and as such is–I strongly suspect–likely to be heralded for having been a major player in these reforms by church members in the future looking to build associations between the church and such causes. Nothing more than that.

  18. S.P. Bailey says:

    I too think that the finger of providence is at work here. It seems likely that the people of Nevada will hold brother Reid responsible next year for this unpopular, ineffectual, pork-filled, economy-killing, nobody-has-actually-read-it-yet, damn-the-torpedoes-nationalize-it-now-before-they-vote-us-out “reform” bill. At that point, brother and sister Reid will be free to bless many lives somewhere far away from Washington, D.C. For example, I think they would make an excellent senior missionary couple. The people whose lives they touch in that capacity might some day rejoice when they look back on Brother Reid’s political suicide.

  19. Russell at #17,

    That’s a fair point too but to liken his behavior to a stake president? I don’t see how any effectual politician can pull that off LDS or not, GOP or Dem.

    He does strike me as angry and when he was being frustrated by those of his own caucus he lashes out at the opposition, demonizing them, despite their powerlessness.

    By the way, despite what the talking points say, the GOP have had their own suggestions for meaningful health care reform but they have been duly ignored. The only attempts to reach out to to moderate GOPers was to work on the Dem terms. Which is understandable with their majorities, but contrary to what the President promised last year. And perhaps the opposition to the Dem’s “pass anything approach to HCR as long as the government has greater control” is principled rather than just being a stick in the mud.

    But to complain and demonize the GOP as simply obstructionist? How? They can delay things out a bit, but that’s only because Reid and his Dems are in such a rush to get anything passed before people understand what’s in the bill.

  20. Well said Russell. While I personally am more aligned with Bernie Sanders, I am amazed that Reid has been able to hold together a coalition ranging from Sanders and Boxer to Lieberman and Nelson. I think it is funny that people do not like all the deal making taking place. That is what legislatures do.

  21. S.P. Bailey says:

    “I think it is funny that people do not like all the deal making taking place. That is what legislatures do.”

    Sneer and call it naive, but some people still entertain fantasies of disinterested statesmen legislating in the best interests of the American people. I certainly can’t bring myself to laugh while cynical little men like Reid waste millions or even billions of taxpayer dollars to buy cloture votes to ram through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want.

  22. Thanks, Russell. I agree.

  23. john willis says:

    One positive impact of health care reform for the Church in the United States is that fast offering funds which have been used to pay medical bills of members who did not have the funds or insurance to pay will now be freed up for other purposes.

    While I don’t believe that the church has payed many $20,000 hospital bills it has often helped indignet members with some medical costs.

    I suspect some of the brethern said a silent amen this Sunday when the vote for cloture in the Senate came in.

  24. S. P.,

    I tend to that legislators working face to face is how the public is best served. Madison and Rousseau were right on that.

    While I appreciate the impulse to replace Congress with Gallup, it is a foolish impulse. Hence, I sneer.

  25. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    As for wishing for bipartisanship or disinterested statesmen, I’m pretty sure we’ve never had them. Sure people have gotten along better in the past, but bipartisanship or disinterest? We’ve never had them, not even (especially?) during the Washington administration.

    I think the statement that Harry Reid will be remembered in similar fashion to Reed Smoot is very apt. Both of them are devoted to their party, sometimes are rather harsh towards their opposition, and cause a lot of headache for many Mormons in Utah. Sounds like a great match to me!

  26. I am really curious to see what will happen when millions of 18-25 year olds living at home or with roommates start getting hit with fines for not carrying insurance.

    A large chunk of those will be covered by their parents. As for the rest, you have to have healthy people in the pool to offset those who actually need insurance.

  27. At the moment, I’m struggling to think of anything that defines Hatch or Bennett as great Mormon senators, *EXCEPT* the fact that Hatch could always be counted on to work with Kennedy, and he writes terrible music.

  28. When very similar legislation (market based, individual mandates, insurance regulations, etc) was considered as a national referendum in Switzerland, the debate was rancorous and apoplectic. It passed by about one percentage point. Fifteen years later, it has over 95% approval.

    LDS conservatives whose heads are exploding over this (they exchanged policies for votes and made compromises with industry, oh the horror!!!!!!) will be eating crow. bbell is correct that the act is unpopular. Never underestimate the power of disinformation and political acrimony. Every major provision of the bill has wide popularity. So does the (apparently dead) public option. Passing this might cost Reid his job. But 30 years from now, obstructionist Republicans will look in hindsight like sore-loser dinosaurs. Mormons the world over will know the name Harry Reid, but will scratch their heads confusedly if you ask them about Mitt Romney. And democratic Mormons will tease their republican coreligionists by never letting them live down the fact that Sens. Hatch and Bennett participated in all the obstructionism.

    This is a far, far from perfect bill. Landmark legislation always almost shapes up to be something that almost no one is happy with but everyone (at least all the people who try to participate constructively, meaning non-Republicans) agrees is the least bad outcome possible. That it will clear the supermajority Senate threshold by year’s end, given the breathtaking efficiency with which the insurance industry and the Republican noise machine pounced this summer, is an astonishing feat on Reid’s part.

  29. Which suggests another possibility to me: that perhaps Reid’s presence as the Democratic leader in the Senate was…providential.

    That’s funny. Just last month, didn’t we all decide that the problem with Mormon Republicans was that they thought God agreed with them?

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/11/29/are-right-wing-mormons-more-likely-to-be-annoying-than-left-wing-mormons/

  30. David,

    #12,

    And he has called Pres. Bush a jerk and loser.

    Not to get too side tracked, but Senator Reid hit the nail on the head. :)

    On the overall point, Senator Reid did a fantastic job in getting this bill to where it is, but he didn’t have to go this route. He could have fought the more important battle (which would have benefited this bill far more), and that is the removal of the ability to filibuster from Senate rules. This health care bill should only have needed 51 votes (as any bill should). The point being that elections have consequences, and in 2008, we debated health care reform like nothing else out there. This was topic numero uno. Voters made it clear last November that they did not like the Republican plan (did they even have one?), and that they wanted to give Democrats a chance to reform health care. Certain individuals and certain parties do not like that elections have consequences that go against them, and will do everything in their power to undermine the results of those elections. That’s fine. Politics is a contact sport. Senator Reid should have removed the filibuster first. Anyways, I hope they learned their lesson and are moving to remove the filibuster before taking on the energy bill.

  31. I’m curious as to why my comment is awaiting moderation?

  32. some people still entertain fantasies of disinterested statesmen legislating in the best interests of the American people. I certainly can’t bring myself to laugh while cynical little men like Reid waste millions or even billions of taxpayer dollars to buy cloture votes to ram through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want.

    If that fantasy were an actual requirement, nothing would ever get passed. In, like, the past… well… ever. If you don’t like the dealmaking and interest-bowing that our legislative apparatus entails, maybe you should vote for more Republicans to curb the influence of special interests and lobbyists. That you’re suddenly beside yourself with grief over the practical necessities and compromises and non-disinteredness of Washington but haven’t been wringing your hands in anguished protest since Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency (or, say, during the past eight years) suggests you might think twice about promiscuous use of terms of art like “cynical little men.”

  33. sister blah 2 says:

    Thanks for the upbeat take on things, Russell. Watching the healthcare debate this past week, I’d all but given up every shred of hope for kindness and real democracy ever winning the day in this fallen world. But if you and Chris H can manage to keep your chins up, maybe it’s not so bad.

    Reid’s biggest mistake of his career is not booting Lieberman out of the caucus in the most humiliating way possible long, long ago (think the scene in Mary Poppins where the dad gets sacked and they turn out his umbrella and punch in his hat). Perhaps, as you outlined, some of his most Mormon characteristics helped him accomplish what he has. But if not turning on Joe can also be blamed on Mormonness, then it was also his downfall.

  34. Swing and a miss, JimD. Russell wasn’t making an argument about Reid’s policy preferences, per se, but about his behind the scenes statesmanship and dealmaking, about his leadership. I happen personally to think that God cares more about egalitarian health care access than about the profitability of private insurers, but that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have any wider implications about any particular Party’s overall platform.

  35. S.P. Bailey says:

    Brad:
    I don’t know you, and you sure as hell don’t know me. So why assume that I am “suddenly beside myself” or that I “haven’t been wringing [my] hands in anguished protest” since the Teddy Roosevelt administration? I take it that you find this particular hunk of sausage tasty, and that (in this instance) you are believer in the sausage-making process. Good for you.

  36. I think a lot of folks figured the possibility of major health care reform died with Senator Kennedy. Several times in the last couple of months, the bill (while not sweeping health care reform, at least does a fair job of reforming health care insurance for the better) seemed dead. I think it took a lot of behind the scenes work to get an agreement to get both moderate and liberal democrats to all agree.

    With the Republican party out of power right now, its leadership has been trying, mostly successfully, to tap into Tea Party and libertarian sentiments, and have no interest in a truly bipartisan solution. When you are on the outside, it is easy to scream that no one is working together, and blame it on the other party. Democrats did it during the last few years of the Clinton administration, when republicans controlled both houses. Republicans are doing the same thing now.

    Compromise is ugly, hard, and rarely popular with the masses. Without it, though, we would never get anything done in Congress. If Senator Reid gets booted by his constituents next November, he will be in good company. JFK’s book, Profiles in Courage, is all about senators who did unpopular things that turned out to be the best things for our country, and often were rejected by voters at the time. While not the sweeping reform many sought, this bill, which after the first of the year go to conference committee for resolution with the House bill passed earlier, will likely be remembered as the most positive accomplishment of Reid’s career in the Senate.

  37. Paragraphs one and three of my previous post (#36) are prime examples of why you should read your comments two or three times before hitting the “submit comment” button.

    Paragraph 1: I think it took a lot of behind the scenes work to get an agreement from liberal and moderate Democrats.

    Paragraph 3: “..which after the first of the year will go to conference committee for resolution with the House bill…”

  38. The fact that the Reid bill substantially mirrors Mitt’s health insurance law is too rich. Especially since so many of our LDS brethren and sisters were jumping on board Mitt’s train, touting his health care achievements, and ready to support him during his campaign for president.

    Now, Brother Reid comes along with substantially similar legislation and, suddenly, because he has a “D” beside his name, the bill is so much “sausage-making” and “hodge-podge” and Reid will “go down in history as those responsible for ‘the end.’” Wow!

    Said otherwise, it’s amazing to me how if you carry the banner of Republican-mandated insurance you are riding a White Horse, but if you are a Democrat carrying the same banner, that white horse suddenly morphs into one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

    (And yes, I understand that Mitt’s bill and Harry’s bill have differences. I understand that. Go ahead and complain loudly about that fact, just don’t choose to ignore the point that there’s no small amount of hypocrisy going on here as folks evaluate Reid.)

  39. Steve Evans says:

    With each comment you make, Hunter, you are making my Christmas wishes come true! Just FYI.

  40. The only “Amen” pronounced was on the Republic, as another trillion dollars worth of entitlements brings us closer and closer to the future foreseen by the prophets of an America in disarray and dissolution. But hey, as long as the pro-Democrat bloggers are happy…

    PS: Just out of curiosity, how many Republicans have you declared “Mormon Heroes”? Or is being a (R) an automatic disqualifier in our ever-so-liberal Blogernacle?

  41. If Andy Reid wins a Super Bowl, he’ll be a Mormon hero. I think that Stephanie Meyer has probably hit that category. (Although, I’m finding that there’s a generation of 20yos in the Church who have never heard of Orson Scott Card.)

    Carlos (40) – The astonishing thing about Mormon political heroes is that we can’t *find* any with an (R) next to their name, except the man who was once governor of Massachusetts. I wonder where that guy went.

  42. The New Jersey nutjob says:

    Pleases refresh my memory: a similar plan, enacted in a state (Massechusettes), was spearheaded by…?

  43. The Church will remember Harry Reid just like they remember LDS Senator Reed Smoot who co-authored the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that worsened the Great Depression. You don’t hear the Church talking too much about Smoot, do you?

    The CBO notoriously underestimates the cost of proposed government healthcare programs. Since HarryCare doesn’t bend the cost curve, we’re going to get even higher costs. Reid’s tax increases and Obama’s tax increases won’t generate nearly as much money as they hope since they are based on economic forecasts that are way too optimistic. When the bill for HarryCare comes due and hastens the bankruptcy of the U.S., the church is going to relegate Reid to the Reed Smoot section of Mormon celebrities.

    But hey, at least he’s one of us.

  44. Brad, I’ll have to remember that one on the next Mitt Romney thread. :)

  45. I’m a bit surprised at the hatred spewing forth here. It’s disturbing. It would be disturbing aimed at Mitt Romney too. You can disagree with someone without hating them–especially when that someone has the same religious beliefs that you have.

    I think it’s great that the Senate Majority leader is LDS. It’s a shame that his faith is not mentioned much in the news (certainly not mentioned nearly as often as it is for Mitt Romney). I guess the Democrats don’t care about a politician’s religion as much as Republicans do.

    Face it. We’ll never have a Republican LDS president while the Bible Belt exists. If one wins in the primaries, those who supported Huckabee because Romney is Mormon will vote for someone else (handing the presidency to a Democrat). If a member of the church becomes president in the next 20 or 30 years, he or she will be a Democrat.

    Reid, like Romney, has flaws. But I’d welcome both with open arms if they moved into my ward. I hope others that call themselves Saints would do likewise.

  46. For the record, I’m a libertarian-leaning independent so don’t respond with “Republicans are just as bad or even worse” because that’s beside the point.

  47. Everyone claims to know that guy who wonders how Reid can be an active, believing member and still have a hand in the policies promoted by the Democratic party (particularly, the more leftist policies like increased federal funding for abortion found in this bill). And some are aghast, saying that one should never equate religious conviction and policy preference — that happens a lot here, I notice. How dare someone assume that a policy preference has any bearing on religious conviction! How small-minded! Except, here, I guess, when it isn’t?

    Reid will be remembered in many ways, a “Mormon hero” is certainly not one of them. Most people don’t know he’s Mormon, and he’s never had to deal with the scrutiny given to Romney (where Mormonism is played up as a negative he must explain).

    His unfavorable ratings exceed 50%, and if his health care “reform” manages to impress the American people (a highly dubious proposition, since it doesn’t lower any costs for the vast majority of the already-insured population), Obama will get that recognition — not Reid.

    So, I guess look for your heroes where you must. I prefer to look to actual Mormon heroes, quietly serving others without calling those with whom they disagree “evil-mongers.”

  48. The New Jersey nutjob says:

    @ queuno: I think Hatch’s verse and lyrics are quite serviceable! After all, he’s trying for popular balladry and not (necessarily) cutting-edge art.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    Jana H: “Most people don’t know he’s Mormon”

    Really? Where are you getting this from?

  50. The New Jersey nutjob says:

    @ Jana H.: Reid personally cut deals in which, at the last minute, mandates for abortions’ coverage were removed from the bill (that is, in situations other then rape, health of mother is at stake, incest).

  51. Aaron Brown says:

    If people would quit eating meat, except in times of winter like the scriptures demand, then they’d never get sick, and health insurance of any sort would be completely unnecessary.

  52. @45 Tim:

    You said, “I guess the Democrats don’t care about a politician’s religion as much as Republicans do.”

    Romney’s faith was plucked and poked during the Presidential primaries by the mainstream big media outlets. A cynic might say that it was a convenient way to discredit him among a public that has a negative view of the LDS faith. Reid receives no such scrutiny, and it really isn’t a mystery as to why.

  53. @Steve Evans

    YOU know he’s Mormon, WE all know he’s Mormon. If you survey the vast majority of Americans, most won’t even know who he is, let alone his religious convictions. It’s silly to think he’s going to become some great Mormon hero. Political successes and failures stay with the Presidency, if even that. Medicare isn’t associated with the Congress of the time, it’s associated with LBJ, for example.

  54. Steve Evans says:

    Jana, you’re making some pretty big generalizations which just don’t seem supported.

    “If you survey the vast majority of Americans, most won’t even know who he is, let alone his religious convictions.” I mean, really? What’s your basis for asserting this, besides just a general belief that Americans are ignoramuses?

  55. @The New Jersey nutjob

    The compromise only allows for states to opt-out of the abortion funding, and 13 states have laws currently that say the state must provide abortion coverage. The result? States that do opt-out are still paying for abortions in states where courts have determined state law demands abortion coverage. Payments for abortions will be made by separate check, so I guess it’s all good. Except for those of us who take our objection to our tax dollars funding abortion seriously. I’m hoping Stupak shows some intestinal fortitude in conference — that is, if Pelosi even lets them have a conference.

  56. @Steve Evans

    The Intercollegiate Studies Institute found that fewer than half of survey respondents can name even the three branches of government. It certainly isn’t an extrapolation that I can back up scientifically, but I’m willing to bet that if more than half of the people can’t drill down and identify Congress as a branch of our government, they probably don’t know the guy that’s in charge of Congress, let alone his religious preference.

    It’s nice, though, that you give your fellow countrymen the benefit of the doubt when it comes to civic literacy. You’ve clearly never sat through one of Jay Leno’s “Man on the Street” bits on his late-night talk show.

  57. Sorry, Jana, but most of the negative prodding I saw was from conservatives (such as Huckabee). That may have been different if Romney had won the primaries, but thanks to rampant anti-Mormonism in the Republican ranks, that didn’t happen.

  58. addendum: by “Congress,” I mean the Senate. And yes, I know that Joe B. is actually the President of the Senate, but hey, he sure ain’t in charge over there.

  59. I do think Jana’s right on two points–both about the ignorance of the public (even Cal Thomas, a well-known Conservative newspaper editorialist, gets the three branches of the government wrong–see here: http://townhall.com/columnists/CalThomas/2009/09/17/the_racism_card) and about people (non-members, at least) not knowing Harry Reid is LDS. My well-educated, politically-informed LDS friends don’t know he’s LDS unless I tell them. I think if more Democrats knew the LDS church actually has political diversity, more would be interested in joining.

  60. @57 Tim

    I disagree. The day that Romney announced his candidacy, USA Today’s cover story was “Will Mormon Faith Hurt Bid for White House?” Certainly, Huckabee was sly about making sure to point out Romney’s faith early and often, but he was far from the only person discussing whether Mormon faith would affect a President’s ability to govern.

  61. Sorry–that link doesn’t work. If you want to see Cal Thomas embarrass himself, try this: http://townhall.com/columnists/CalThomas/2009/09/17/the_racism_card.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    OK, Jana, you win, Romney rules and Americans are stupid. Can we move on now please?

  63. Liberal-leaning newspapers certainly covered it, but from what I saw, the more offensive and the more negative stuff came from Conservatives. I don’t know what the USA Today cover story was about, but the title sure was prophetic. His faith did hurt his bid for the White House.

  64. Jana H,
    Your misrepresentation of the abortion question bespeaks either willful ignorance or prevarication. The current version permits private plans that offer abortion coverage to participate on the insurance exchanges but expressly forbids federal monies from subsidizing them. To say nothing of the fact that abortion is currently a legal, constitutionally protected medical procedure. Do pacifists get to prevent their tax dollars from funding the DoD? Do ACLU members get to keep their taxes from funding Patriot Act enforcement?

  65. Jana H,
    Every news story I’ve seen about Reid mentions his Mormonism. I can think of articles in the New Yorker, the NY Times and, I think, the Atlantic.

    It may be true that the vast majority of Americans don’t know who Reid is (although I suspect that that vast majority is getting smaller and smaller as I type). But pretty much everybody who is interested in politics, or who reads the NY Times, WSJ, or listens to NPR (or, I suspect, watches any news network) knows who Reid is and, I suspect, many if not most of them know he’s Mormon.

  66. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Jana, beware! I argued with Brad about abortion once, and now we’re friends.

  67. FWIW, a few years ago the CBC (Canada’s NPR/BBC) asked Canadians to vote for “The Greatest Canadian.” The winner of the vote was Tommy Douglas, Canada’s ‘father of Medicare.’

    He is seen as a Canadian hero, as we Canadians are generally very proud of our flawed-but-dependable system. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that the founders of a similar system in the US will be regarded too differently in the future, once all the political dust has settled.

  68. Sarah, you don’t understand. All the apocalyptic predictions about what should happen when universal healthcare is enacted in a modern, industrialized country — it doesn’t matter that they’ve never come to pass anywhere else, because THEY WILL HERE!!! And everyone will see what a misguided, sad, cynical, sausage-making, non-hero Reid really was. And when brave Republicans finally swoop in and save the republic by returning us to the pre-Christmas-2009 status quo, it will probably be some true Mormon hero that negotiates the groundbreaking compromise.

  69. I don’t comment often, but felt the need to stick my nose in on the comparison of Reid’s supposed acceptance among Dems vs. Romney’s rejection by Republicans. Reid was elected in a state with heavy concentrations of LDS and has never run for national office. Human nature has a way of accepting its own – note Democrats consider Sharpton and Jackson as examplars of faith in the public sphere, while making evangelicals out as religious nuts. This example is not to say Republicans are any different; they aren’t. The point being, if Reid ran nationally there would be just as many doubters of his faith on the left as Romney faced on the right. Catholic democrats still have to walk the, “Is he/she free from the dictates of his church?” question. Let’s face it, we Mormons are weird.

    Personally, I opposed Romney for passing Mass-Care. And, for what it is worth, I grow more sure of my rejection of him every time he pretends he didn’t pass-what-he-passed.

    As for the bill, how can anyone debate something that hasn’t been seen, hasn’t been read, hasn’t been vetted by the (notoriously optimistic) CBO? It doesn’t exist, and won’t exist in any meaningful sense until Nancy and Harry tell everyone what they are going to pass. For all the talk of transparency and openess, how can anyone justify the way this bill has been pushed through behind closed doors on a schedule driven by artificial deadlines?

    Hey, is there anything in the Book of Mormon about clandestine groups of people attempting seeking their own interests and imposing their will on others out of the public eye…seems like I remember something about that somewhere…Perhaps my reaction is mostly because I’m pissed I didn’t buy stock in the major insurance companies, it could have helped pay for my subsidizing the State of Nebraska. After the Wall Street bailout, I should have known the script.

  70. Steve Evans says:

    Out of the Congress
    Out from the Senate
    Can’t have a public option this tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime

    We are the people
    Mormon generation
    We are the ones they left behiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind

    And I wonder if threads are ever gonna change
    Living under the fear, got no political range

    (all the children say)
    We don’t need a Mormon Hero!
    We don’t need Healthcare Reform!
    All we want is market-based choice systems Thunderdome!

    (chorus repeats)

  71. Brad #64
    Do pacifists get to prevent their tax dollars from funding the DoD? Do ACLU members get to keep their taxes from funding Patriot Act enforcement?

    We sure wish we could because isn’t it Satan’s plan to take my money to give people healthcare, I mean build weapons, against my free will? I certainly love the hypocrisy of those who decry using taxes for addressing issues of health, poverty, etc but dont bat an eye if it goes towards fabricating gods of stone and steel – ships, planes, missiles, fortifications.

  72. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Nice legs, Tina.

  73. S.P. Bailey says:

    “America will be more like Canada!” = not inspiring confidence.

  74. Steve Evans says:

    SP, why is that? Canada pretty much outclasses the U.S. in most standard of living criteria.

  75. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Jelly doughnuts ahoy!

  76. Hunter said:

    “it’s amazing to me how if you carry the banner of Republican-mandated insurance you are riding a White Horse, but if you are a Democrat carrying the same banner, that white horse suddenly morphs into one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

    I will be repeating this verbatim and passing it off as my own in a thousand future conversations, just so you know.

    ———

    As for Reid’s future, I think he’s great, and the Church and Nevada and America can be proud of him. Part of me, though, hopes he loses reelection so that they can make him a mission president or general authority already.

  77. S.P. Bailey says:

    It turns out that Mitt’s health care experiment in Mass. is not just something liberal Mormons can use to browbeat their brothers and sisters who are troubled by the current legislation. It is also a preview of things to come: failures to control costs, rapidly increasing insurance premiums across the board, budget deficits, etc., etc.

  78. #67 and 68: You do understand that those modern industrial countries have money, and we don’t, right? Those kinds of little details make a big difference. We’re the biggest debtor country in the world, and we were already headed for disaster in 2007 (see former GAO head David Walker on 60 Minutes). That was before we started printing money and before trillion dollar spending bills became commonplace. There is no way this can end well.

  79. Steve Evans says:

    SP, don’t we have those problems already? Those three things you identify have been the hallmarks of healthcare for many years now.

  80. S.P. Bailey says:

    Steve: I like Canada, I just don’t think America should aspire to emulate certain things (e.g., higher taxes, rationed health care, minimal armed forces, the long winters, hockey, etc., etc.)

  81. S.P. Bailey says:

    Steve (No. 79): Right. And the current bill will apparently exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it!

    I am not a partisan hater. I would love to see Barack Obama and Harry Reid and all the rest enact true reform that gets a handle on costs, covers more people, doesn’t undermine the quality of care or stifle innovation, and so on. Nobody has actually “read” this bill, but the reports I have read don’t give me much hope on those counts …

  82. S.P. Bailey says:

    That should read: “is fiscally responsible, gets a handle on costs, covers more people, doesn’t undermine the quality of care or stifle innovation, and so on …”

  83. Last Lemming says:

    (notoriously optimistic) CBO

    Please direct all complaints about CBO’s optimism to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. They seem to have missed it. (See http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3910 for an example).

  84. The Wall Street Journal, like everyone else, has changed their opinion on the inevitable profits in the stock market since 2001. See today’s article>, for example.

  85. (and of course, I got the link to that article from your sidebar, she said sheepishly. Thanks, by the way.)

  86. I just don’t think America should aspire to emulate certain things…rationed health care…

    Give me health care rationed by corporate insurers and market forces or give me death!

  87. No one is saying we have a perfect system now. But the problems in health care are complex and they aren’t going to be solved by the government spending money that we don’t have. If there’s anything that people and companies should have learned in the past 2 years, it’s that going into overwhelming amounts of debt is just makes problems worse. (By overwhelming, I mean impossible to repay.) Overwhelming debt is destructive for governments too.

  88. I was so, so excited when Harry Reid was elected as the majority leader in the US Senate. I just have sort of a painful, sinking feeling now every time I see or read of him. I think you can dream of him being some kind of a mormon hero, and I am sure he is a good person, but I think you’re in the minority if you think his performance as majority leader has been something that is going to be lauded for all time. He is unpopular among his own constitutents and among the general population of the US. It’s been disappointing to watch.

  89. Are you saying, Sara, that if this bill were, say, deficit neutral, you’d have no problem with it?

  90. Haven’t I read this exact same thread about . . . a dozen . . . no, two dozen times in the last three years? The amazing part is that the posts that inspired the threads were all quite different.

    No matter what someone thinks of Sen. Reid’s political ideas, getting this bill passed would be a TRULY remarkable accomplishment. Say whatever else you want, but Sen. Reid is an amazing politician.

  91. I think he’s going to lose reelection. I have to be honest and admit that it would surprise me if he is made a GA.

  92. Stephanie,

    Surprised a lot of people when Wayne Owens was made a mission president, too.

    (And, after he completed his mission, it didn’t stop the Utah GOP from starting the most vile rumors about him at their convention when they selected Bob Bennett to run against him for the senate.)

  93. Saying it’s deficit neutral doesn’t make it so. You’ve read the differences in 1969 projections of the cost of Medicare, versus how much it really cost, right? There was a 10x difference between the two numbers, right? Politicians will say what they want you to believe, and then later when the real numbers come out, they will ignore it. It will be like the number of jobs saved or created by the Obama stimulus.

  94. Pedro Olavarria says:

    “an angry man, a tough talker, a loudmouth and a grump”
    Too bad most people don’t list such traits with being “Christ like”. I do.

  95. I am less than thrilled about how the Senate took a healthcare bill and watered it down until it became an insurance reform ‘lite’ bill. That said, I have almost thanked God several times in prayer for allowing Harry Reid to be a contemporary LDS counter example to Glenn Beck.

    Senator Reid – Thank you for demonstrating that Mormon’s are capable of social and political actions more noble than the politofroth that is Brother Beck’s worldview.

  96. I hate to say anything negative about anyone, but Reid is certianly the LEAST popular Mormon among Mormons who lean politically. On the other hand, he’s been useful to the Church in arguing that we are not all Republicans, and that the Church should be politically neutral, except where major moral issues come into play.

    At the heart of this health care reform is a moral idea (getting everyone covered) that will work out to be hugely immoral in practice, hurting far more people than it helps and carrying with it a price tag that is sure to rip apart the financial threads of our country. In practice, the bill doesn’t even DO what it says it is meant to do, which is insure everyone. Republicans have noted (prior to the House vote) that this will cost at least 5.5 million jobs while covering only an additional 5 million or so people. It may even cost 15 million policies, as small business owners find themselves unable to continue to foot the bill.

    This bill is a bad idea all around, and I suspect Reid will be remembered for it.

    The compromises in this bill are so vast that they will leave us worse off than where we started, and America knows. The only people who should be pleased are the something for nothing crowd.

    The bill is thoroughly un-American, un-Constitutional (in the sense that Congress does not have authority to pass such a bill), and un-sustainable.

    The fact that they are now trying to force a supermajority in order to overturn it is unconscionable and probably illegal.

    America does not want it, and we will not forget it, especially come annual tax time…

  97. Steve Evans says:

    Jed, your linked name is all you really needed to say. The rest of your dumb comment was redundant.

  98. Holy crap. I go abroad for 2 minutes and the whole country goes to hell. Figures.

  99. #96

    “Republicans have noted…”

    Well then it must be true. Of course ‘Democrats have noted’ otherwise, but they certainly can’t be trusted as they are blinded by their moral prudence.

    “This bill is a bad idea all around”

    Of course! Because Republicans have said though. Republicans complain that their hasn’t been a bill to read and then complain that the unread bill must inevitably fail. Which are they right on? Both! Because Republicans are always right and Democrats are always wrong.

    “The compromises in this bill are so vast that they will leave us worse off than where we started, and America knows.”

    Again, because Republicans are the only true Americans and embody everything that is America, if they know something, then obviously America knows as well.

    “he only people who should be pleased are the something for nothing crowd.”

    Like that Jesus-guy… but he wasn’t a Republican, and surely not American… so his opinion doesn’t matter. That whole grace and charity thing of his just proves he was a Marxist anyways.

    “The bill is thoroughly un-American, un-Constitutional (in the sense that Congress does not have authority to pass such a bill), and un-sustainable.”

    Well of course they are! While others have said quite the opposite, it doesn’t fit the absolute hyperbolis of truth offered by Republicans. So of course, the Republicans are unquestionably right again.

    “The fact that they are now trying to force a supermajority in order to overturn it is unconscionable and probably illegal.”

    Well it’s not… but we can all be Republicans and pretend like it is.

    “America does not want it, and we will not forget it, especially come annual tax time…”

    Listen to the America speak.

  100. “Face it. We’ll never have a Republican LDS president while the Bible Belt exists.”

    True.

    Would a Democratic LDS presidential candidate have a chance? I’m just wondering …

  101. Constant gentility, frequent apologies, no personal disagreements being voiced publicly (they’re to be whispered fervently in the foyer, of course), and with an overriding commitment to consensus, loyalty and unity ultimately leading everyone to a conclusion. Perhaps not a great conclusion, maybe not even a very good one…but a conclusion nonetheless, with the alternative–dissolution, the group falling apart and everyone going their own way–being seen as too terrible to contemplate.

    I like this definition. I am quite disgusted by the Russ Limbaugh ditto-heads regurgitating the extremist liturgy in very absolutist terms.

    Life will not end with general health care. Actually, life is likely to get much better for a lot of people, who now can’t get an insurance because of preexisting conditions or lack of funds. Americans actually pay very dearly for the “freedom” they have in their health care system.

    As for Reid’s dealmaking: Living life is about making deals. Life without compromises is a life full of bitter disagreement and disappointment. We should make an effort to become better, sure. But we must recognize that we will never be perfect in this life.

    And as for Russell’s prediction, I don’t know.

  102. I think an LDS Democratic presidential candidate would have a better chance. I don’t know of any Democrats that have issues with the fact that Reid is LDS. Granted, scrutiny for presidential candidates is much greater than scrutiny for the Senate majority leader, but still…
    I think Democrats tend to be more open to diversity. Recall that our only Catholic president was a Democrat.
    An LDS Democrat may also be able to get much-needed votes in the West, leaving only the South (and perhaps a couple of states in the West) to vote Republican.
    I really don’t know how an LDS Democratic presidential candidate would fare, but I like to think that there would be less bias against him from members of his own party.

  103. Russell Arben Fox Says:
    December 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm
    Me,

    I learned as a young man that nothing good happens after midnight.

    I trust there will be many Mormons passing that concern along to Republican senators like Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, as it Republican procedural tactics that are forcing the Democratic majority to delay every cloture vote until the end of a 30-hour waiting period. The votes exist for this bill to pass right now, in the daylight, at this very moment. The Republicans aren’t letting it happen.
    ——

    hahah.. thanks for the laughs. Go grab some more kool-aid.

  104. I cannot speak for Russell (as a liberal egalitarian, I often misread communitarians), but I prefer Diet Coke over kool-aid.

  105. Last Lemming says:

    Surprised a lot of people when Wayne Owens was made a mission president, too.

    National political observers interpreted Owens call to Canada not as any kind of affirmation, but as being sent into exile to keep him from running for something else.

  106. @ me (#103),

    From the AP:

    The Senate has been voting at odd hours since Monday around 1 a.m. because Republicans have insisted on using all the time allowed them under Senate rules to delay the bill. Not to be thwarted, Reid, D-Nev., has refused to postpone action until after the holidays. Hence the unusual schedule. On Tuesday, they started voting at sunrise.

  107. Steve M,
    Non-koolaid-drinkers steer clear of LIBERAL-leaning sources like AP…

  108. Steve M. If you shout “AP!” Loud enough, he’ll come busting through your wall.

  109. I like Canada, I just don’t think America should aspire to emulate certain things (e.g., higher taxes, rationed health care, minimal armed forces, the long winters, hockey, etc., etc.)

    People, let’s not malign the nation that brought us Smarties, Geddy Lee, and the Guess Who.

    What am I forgetting?

    Ah, yes: Canadian quarters.

  110. What am I forgetting?

    N. Eldon Tanner, Hugh B. Brown, and Neil Young.

  111. Last Lemming:

    “National political observers,” huh? And who would that have been?

    I didn’t realize that the Lord used mission presidencies for such political whims!

  112. S.P. Bailey says:

    Canada is also a nice place to visit, but I …

  113. I’m Canadian neutral, as I figure that Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette cancel each other out.

  114. Last Lemming says:

    What am I forgetting?

    Bob and Doug MacKenzie, Yosh and Stan Schmenge, Ed Grimley. Cylon Model #6.

  115. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    #6?

    I thought she was Caprican.

  116. Thanks for you post Russell. I agree completely.

    Now, for satire:

    This extension of health insurance to regular people is just as bad or socialist as the provision of government provided or subsidized health insurance to the poor (Medicaid) and to the old and disabled (Medicare). Just as the majority of countries that have adopted government provided or subsidized health care or insurance are clamoring to return to a U.S.-style system, most of the poor and old and disabled whom I know truly hope for the end of the evil and socialist Medicaid and Medicare system (not to mention Social Security).

  117. …but I prefer Diet Coke over kool-aid.

    It goes beyond a mere preference. I’ve seen Chris have Diet Coke with breakfast.

  118. “I’ve seen Chris have Diet Coke with breakfast.”

    Doesn’t everyone?

  119. Thanks for the many fine comments, everyone. I’m enjoying the thread a lot. (Regarding Canada, everything you need to know about what’s great about The Great White North may be found here.)

  120. Do any of you actually reside in NEVADA??? Have any of you ever read the senator’s comments to the Beehive, a LDS publication in southern Nevada. When asked his views on abortion, he said he fully supports it! When asked how he balances church and the Senate he said “I keep church separate from my political job” Aren’t we taught to approach our jobs and daily lives according to the principles of the gospel? Or does that only apply to those of us not named Harry Reid? Harry is an IDIOT!!! He’s only a Mormon when it benefits him!

  121. John,

    “Do any of you actually reside in NEVADA???”

    Look out the window and I see water. So, I guess not.

    Do you have a link to your source?

    “When asked how he balances church and the Senate he said “I keep church separate from my political job” Aren’t we taught to approach our jobs and daily lives according to the principles of the gospel?”

    I think that most Mormons in public office have said sometime like this. His job is to represent the common good and not to advocate Mormonism.

    Take a deep breath.

  122. From Mitt Romney’s religion speech at the George Bush Presidential Library:

    “Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

    “As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.”

    I’m not a big fan of Romney’s politics, but I think he got it right here, and he elaborated well on what Reid stated succinctly.

  123. What’s the irony coefficient when an idiot uses the word IDIOT in an idiotic comment in ALL CAPS with promiscuous exclamation points?!!!!!!!

  124. From Wikipedia:

    “Regarding specific issues, Reid believes that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned and in 1999, he voted against an amendment that explicitly expressed support for Roe v. Wade. He has stated that he believes in a restricted right to abortion, stating that ‘abortions should be legal only when the pregnancy resulted from incest, rape, or when the life of the woman is endangered.’ He has also voted several times to ban the ‘intact dilation and evacuation’ or ‘partial-birth abortion’ procedure.”

    So, John, does this sound as if Reid fully supports abortion? Like Chris, I’d like to see a link to the Beehive article, so we could see what Reid actually said and in what context he said it.

  125. Further, supporting a woman’s legal right to choose is not the same as supporting (“fully”) abortion. John’s inane and misleading little outburst suggests that Reid thinks abortion is completely morally unobjectionable, even admirable. Perhaps he should vent spleen at a site where participants are less likely to see through such flagrantly stupid rubbish.

  126. So it has taken me a few days to read through all of this, and the comments have been quite entertaining. I am especially amused by the fact that the OP tried to focus on Harry Reid as a positive example of “Mormon involvement in civic affairs”. Russell then went on to say that this post was not intended to become another debate on the health care bill (which, of course, it has become).

    After reading all of the comments, I decided to pop on over to the LDS newsroom to say what they had to say on the subject of Harry Reid and Mitt Romney. I found a grand total of one article that mentions both of them by name. The key parts I drew from the article were these:
    “When some members… achieve high office — as in the case of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or former governor Mitt Romney — the Church… recognizes that they do not speak for the Church any more than the Church speaks for government. As individuals responsible to their constituencies, they are free to support or oppose whatever political platform or policy they choose.” (emphasis added)

    “Meanwhile, Church Public Affairs staff have walked a narrow but very distinct line — unwilling to discuss political issues but very willing to talk to the news media and others about the Church itself.”

    From these statements, I would just say that Russell’s prediction will not come to pass. The Church will not use Bro. Reid, Bro. Hatch, Bro. Romney, or any other LDS politicians as specific examples of civic engagement that goes beyond another. I do think we will continue to see these three members, especially, mentioned whenever the Church is asked about its involvement in politics. They are used as examples of individual members acting independently (and bravo for them), and always with the follow-up that the Church itself will not speak on the political issues.

  127. I find it ironic that Reid will be the one to usher in the biggest free agency killing bill in American history.

    As late as June 2007 President Hinkley said; “That war (the War in Heaven), so bitter, so intense, has never ceased. It is the war… between agency and compulsion,”…

    I think Reid and this bill will be remembered as the instrument used by Satan to bring down America.

  128. Steve Evans says:

    Reed, does Kathy know you’re posting comments without her permission?

  129. I can’t take him anywhere.

  130. Eric Russell says:

    I just don’t understand how you can call anyone other than an athlete a “hero.” Max Hall is obviously the real hero of the week. Case closed.

  131. Eric,
    What about soldiers, firemen, and police officers? But other than athletes and those three professions, you’re right on.

  132. Thomas Parkin says:

    I think a baker can be a hero. A chef, too. ~

  133. I think maybe the Coug OL is the Mormon hero of the week.

  134. “He seems like an angry man, a tough talker, a loudmouth and a grump.”

    I am in Brother Reid’s ward. Although I do not agree with his politics, he is a very kind, well-spoken, happy man.

    He is very active. He comes to church every Sunday and even makes it to some ward activities.

    Think what you will about his politics ( I certainly do) But, from what I’ve seen he is a very faithful and amazing person.

  135. I think that Reid is a good man, and I applaud him for not supporting abortion, but I think that he needs to serve mankind in other ways. Civil “service” nowadays leads down dark roads. He is pretty smart if he believes that Jesus’ teachings were “socialist” in their nature, like many people do, but people need to understand that the United Order cannot be administered without divine authority. Man is far too greedy and corruptible.

    The people of the Dynastic Periods of the Roman Empires learned this the hard way. For instance, Justinian I, of the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) was an extremely ambitious and capable man, but many his successors were idiotic, lusting, gluttonous playboys who squandered the wealth of their once great empire, and neglected their provinces and military. Only every once in a while would the Byzantines receive a reliable ruler.

    Let us have the wisdom to learn from history.

  136. And given the spewing of hatred we have seen in the past few years, whether it be from the Right or the Left or the Third Party, I’m one ready to retire in the Austrian Alps….
    with no cable but a HD TV for videos, no AM radio and just sitting outside, enjoying some real peace and quiet….

  137. It’s official; Reid held the caucus together, and the Senate passed a health care reform package for good earlier this morning. As a Christmas present to the country–or at least to the president–I’ve seen better, but I’ve also seen a lot worse…and not getting the present delivered definitely would’ve been in the “worse” category. So final congratulations to Reid. Someday, maybe, when (if) basic and affordable health care coverage is seen by the American people as a social good, rather than a nice individual bonus, Reid, complete with his Mormonism, will be rightly seen as one of the heroes of the day.

  138. I suspect that the editors of the “Third Part of the Hosts Times” newspaper in the pre-mortal existence would have written similar things about Lucifer. ;-)

  139. Russell,

    This really is a triumph. While I am sad that this is the best we can do because of the American political climate, it is about time that something was done. I am hoping that this is the start. I would love to see something like the expansion of medicare and/or the public option.

    La Vulpe,

    This has nothing to do with the United Order, it is about bringing the health care system more within democratic control. It is also not about socialism. The socialist within me is very disappointed. But the political realities are what they are.

  140. Steve Evans says:

    Frank, you’re banned. Your comment is so far beyond the pale that your future participation here is not welcome.

  141. alextvalencic says:

    Not to be a party pooper or anything, but simply passing the Senate bill isn’t going to bring about health care reform. Now the House and the Senate have to try to meld their two bills together. I have my doubts about them being able to do so and still keep everyone happy enough to maintain the necessary number of votes.

    On a vaguely-related note, Russell, can you name any major domestic or foreign legislative action in which either the Senate Majority Leader or the Speaker of the House is given lasting historical credit? I ask because I still struggle to see how Sen. Reid, rather than Pres. Obama (or even in addition to), will be remembered for his role in this reform process.

  142. I think Frank Staheli’s comment hits the nail on the head. Ban me too if you will.

  143. Fine by me, Lou. Comparing a fellow saint to Satan — even obliquely — is completely unwelcome. If you think that’s cute or funny, you’re wrong.

  144. Well said Steve. The really crazy implication of Frank’s thinking (emoticon and all) is that the billions of Heavenly Father’s children on earth who have or will live longer and healthier lives because of state run healthcare systems, are actually just being lulled away by Satan.

  145. Blech – the health care bill is coercive and corrupt. It’s basically a bailout for the medical and insurance companies. It’ll end up in the same way the bailouts for the banks and the motor companies worked: mostly in disaster and theft.

    His work represents nothing that Mormons stand for.

  146. Steve Evans, you’ve GOT to be kidding! Banishing opinions that you don’t agree with?!

    What the hell kind of Mormon are you?

  147. The kind that bans trolls, I guess. Feel free to beat it if you don’t like it. Merry Christmas.

  148. “His work represents nothing that Mormons stand for.”

    There are Mormons who stand for what his work represents. The Mormon church does not oppose his work or what It represents.

    Would you care to restate your opinion with some reference to fact or authority? If not, Merry Christmas to you and your personal sense of Mormonism that entitles you to declare what we all believe.

  149. My comment was for #145

  150. Nate, how about the admonition against stealing for starters?

  151. Ron Madson says:

    Back to Harry Reid.
    Our law office conjoined his office for several years in Las Vegas. At that time I was an associate attorney and his associates and I spent a considerable amount of time together. The thing that struck me is despite their political and philosophical differences he and his associates had (and I personally never voted for him) they were awestruck by his integrity, kindness, decency and charitableness in helping the little guys in his legal practice. They simply loved him. They and I could tell other anecdotes, but the reality is that those that knew him personally always vouched for his integrity and decency—even local opponents

  152. Thanks for sharing that, Ron.

    Sadly, it’s much easier to stereotype and condemn those we don’t know personally just because we disagree with them than to try to understand them personally. How that is the Christian or Mormon thing to do is beyond me.

  153. Ron #151, The problem as I see it isn’t that Reid isn’t a wonderful and kind man. I believe he is. It’s just that EVERY decent Mormon I’ve seen go into politics and stay there for any length of time gets corrupted.

    Look at Hatch and Bennett and Romney for examples of betrayal of principles. The same has happened to Reid.

    I take it back. Romney never was a decent man to begin with.

  154. Ron Madson says:

    One other point. I am personally wary, as many are, of Health Care “reform” and their is some natural concern about the negative aspects of “socialism” as there should be for any “ism”–including capitalISM. However, I personally find linking “socialism” to the war in Heaven (as if we know the details/fine print of what happened) and then to being Satanic should be transparently silly. This “labeling” and then association game (Health Care–socialism–compulsion—war in Heaven—Satan–Harry Reid) is, imo, intellectually immature. Finally, socialism is the very nature of any good governance–it is in the end only matters of degree. Here is my satirical essay addressing those that think in terms of black and white/ all or nothing when it comes to “socialism.” http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/a-modest-proposal-to-end-socialism/
    Democratic socialism is, imo, not anymore evil in a practical sense then capitalism—both involve degrees of compulsion….

  155. Are my comments still moderated?

  156. Nate: It’s theft of money and theft of agency, both of which we are against. Or are you for these things if it’s for a so-called “good cause”? If you are, go read the parable of the wheat and tares again. That, and everything else Christ has said or caused to be written.

  157. Russell, can you name any major domestic or foreign legislative action in which either the Senate Majority Leader or the Speaker of the House is given lasting historical credit?

    The first civil rights bill to pass the Senate since Reconstruction, in 1957, is widely understood to have happened because Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was determined to make it happen. It’s what earned Johnson the title, “Master of the Senate.” And there are other examples as well.

    Will Reid be more associated with health care reform than Obama? Probably not. But to people who care about these things–and it seems to me the public relations department of the Church does often so care–the man who did the work will get his due.

  158. I met Harry and Landra Reid last year (I sat behind them at Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver.) I took the opportunity to ask them if they were familiar with the Bloggernacle- because that’s the kind of geek I am.
    They had never heard the term but seem tickled with it. I made them promise to check out fMH. For what it’s worth- they seemed very Mormon-y. The folks on here who are decrying him, I do believe if you met him you would recognize him as one of your tribe.

  159. Simmer down, Jeremy.

    To all: Merry Christmas. As a gift to all of you, I will keep this thread open, but I’m going to straight-up ban people if they can’t act and behave like normal, easy-going folks. It’s simply not worth the bother at this season to deal with overblown rhetoric and silly theories of agency tied to partisan politics.

    So — go forth and comment, but behave yourselves. No strike policy in effect.

  160. It’s not the man that I’m crying against, it’s what he’s championing. He might be a swell guy with good intentions – but it’s the consequences and the results that matter, not what we want to happen.

  161. BAN HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  162. Jeremy – I wish you a merry Christmas filled with all the money and free agency your personal sense of Mormonism usurps from your co-religionists.

  163. Jeremy, good. That’s an important distinction to maintain. But again, framing this legislation as a “theft of agency”, etc., is just unhelpful — it misinterprets what free agency is, and only serves to try and position a political view as a gospel view. That’s a major mistake, and forces polarization where none is warranted.

    So yeah, I’ll ban people for that sort of rhetoric, too. Tis the season.

  164. Easy, Nate. That’s not a particularly helpful tack either!

  165. Yes. I was too sardonic and personal in my response. My apologies Jeremy.

  166. Ron Madson says:

    #157, Jeremy and all those that see Health Care/taxes etc. as forms of theft and agency.
    I am like you uncomfortable with compulsion/”theft” of agency–although married now for 34 years one gets used to it and in an odd way learns to submit and adapt for the love of others. Here is my problem with getting all worked up over “socialism” and/or those voices I hear within the ranks of the so called tea baggers/revolutionaries—they are willing to rebel at the taking of their stuff/money but have no qualms about taking my money to support wars of aggression that take the lives/property of others. That is the only thing that I personally would civilly disobey and refuse to support if required by my government to be directly involved(see Thoreau’s Duty of Civil Disobedience)
    I believe that I can sustain and adapt to reductions of my own personal material possessions and also limitations of many personal civil liberties, and even onerous taxation as long as I can live peacefully and practice virtue within the limitations placed upon me. But I refuse to obey any order, law or government that tells me that I must engage in killing, harming or destroying another person’s freedoms and rights to life. To require me to do so is to rob me of what little virtue that I might have. It is far more criminal and morally reprehensible to force me to become an instrument of unjust killing and destroying someone’s freedoms, then to have others take, for example, some additional percentage of my income or put some limitations on my personal freedoms. So in an inversion of His example, we protest an ounce of taking or restrictions upon ourselves and threaten to disobey while having no qualms about most of our tax dollars invested in the tonnage of bombs we drop on others— destroying their lives, properties and freedoms.

    So here is my question that J. Madson posed in #71—if it is theft to take your money to pay to assist others medically, is it also theft to take my money involuntarily to bomb villages in foreign countries? You say one is noble and necessary and the other is not? Says who? Jesus? From my limited perspective He seemed a lot more troubled with the Zealots (“den of thieves”–correct translation) then those that taxed for social needs….

  167. #153 – Thank you for proving my point.

    Brother Romney was my Stake President while we lived in Boston, and he was a wonderful man. I have no doubt he still is, and I have no doubt that Sen. Hatch is, as well.

  168. #167
    Ray, It’s difficult for me to accept that any man who has made his way through the political system violating his oath of office along the way can remain a wonderful man.

    Hatch, Romney, Bennett, Reid and others may have started out wonderful men, but I believe their souls are now as filthy as Dorian Gray’s.

    The Lord tells us in D&C 98:7 that any deviation from the Constitution “cometh of evil”; not only have all these men pushed through laws that so deviated, they violated a sacred oath they made before God when doing so.

    I’m not sure progress can be made until we stop looking at which Mormon politician is in agreement with our personal pet issues, and start looking instead to whether he is faithful to the constitution and his oath.

    If anyone can show me under what section of the constitution the healthcare bill falls, I’ll support Harry Reid on it.

  169. 166 Ron,
    Well said. We must be as consistent in denouncing war as we are in any illegal use of political power, whether it originates from the left or from the right.

  170. Rock,

    See the Commerce Clause and the necessary and proper clause. Both are found in Article I.

    Nothing like the gift of political science 101 for Christmas .

    Merry Christmas

  171. Left Field says:

    As Chris said, Article I covers the health care bill.

    Doctrine and Covenants 134:5 gives government pretty sweeping power too.

    “All governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest.”

  172. Rock, I have no response for you other than to wish you a merry Christmas – and I do that sincerely.

  173. What Ray said — only without the sincerity.

  174. Rock,

    An expansive interpretation of the Commerce clause goes back to John Marshal. Nice try.

    Your interpretation of the Constitution is not rooted in the founding, but in the Supreme Court of the 1890s which sought to present the Constitution as an instrument of industrial capitalism. These are the people who tried to read the spirit of “decrease the surplus population” into the Constitution.

    I have read the Federalist Papers. It is a defense of the seperation and division of powers. Your ideological spin on the Constitution will find no support from Madison or Hamilton. Now, the anti-government opponents of the Constitution, well, you have much in common with them.

    Make arguments about policy or prudence, but your appeal to the Constitution on this is without merit.

    Ho Ho Ho. I better get to sleep or the jollt guy might not stop at my housr.

  175. Merry Christmas, everyone. Let’s all just let it go for a bit, okay?

  176. Chris at 177:

    The valid assertion of Supreme Court authority typified in Marbury has little to compare with the expansive interpretations we see today.

    I reject the late 19th century interpretation of the Constitution as an instrument of industrial capitalism, as I assume you do too. The recognition of corporate fictions as equal to actual persons under the law tended in the long run to marginalize actual human beings, and the law often became weighted in favor of corporate interests and away from the individual. What many today call Capitalism could be better described as
    “corporate communism”. I prefer free enterprise to Capitalism.

    Hamilton inclined in later years to a centralization of power, so yes, I am less persuaded by his opinions than to many others of the time. The founders were not all of one mind. If you are implying that I have more in common with the anti-federalists than with the federalists, I admit that in my dotage I have tended to appreciate their prescience more and more.

    Now, let’s drop all this bickering and go spend the day with our love ones, shall we? Merry Christmas, my friend.

  177. #172: Thank you, Ray, and my sincere good wishes to you, also.

    #173 My goodness, Ardiss, why the hostility?
    Here, have a candy cane, child. It will make you feel sweeter.

  178. Lightenn upp Rockk — yourss iss thee voicee off leadd whenn pumicee iss calledd forr.

    And I’m not your child, turkeyjerk.

  179. Point taken, kid.

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