Roger Villere isn’t the only Louisiana political figure to take a swing at Senate majority leader Harry Reid in response to his ill-considered comment that Hurricane Katrina was “nothing like” Hurricane Sandy – in an assumed plea for more relief dollars for victims of last fall’s devastating storm in the New York area.
Reid’s exact comments…
That obviously didn’t sit well with Louisiana’s Republican Senator – or with the most likely GOP candidate for the state’s other Senate seat when it comes up for election in 2014.
This morning, Sen. David Vitter tore into Reid for his comments, bashing him for a lack of mental capacity…
“Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents. Both Katrina and Sandy were horribly destructive storms that caused real human misery. And by most any measure, Katrina was our worst natural disaster in history,” Vitter said.
Vitter’s release with the statement included a factual tidbit from the National Hurricane Center: In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused 1,833 deaths and over $108 billion in damage. Hurricane Sandy has caused 131 deaths and $65 billion in damage.
But then came Cassidy, who many believe will be Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chief Republican challenger in 2014 with a little more long-winded attack on Reid…
“I saw Hurricane Katrina’s devastation firsthand while working with medical teams to provide care for Katrina victims. Harry Reid’s comments are repugnant. More than 1,800 Louisianans were killed in Katrina, not to mention billions of dollars in damage and destruction. The New Orleans area still bears the scars. People in Louisiana have the deepest compassion for those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. We understand what they are going through and pray for their swift recovery, we do not compare our tragedies. Harry Reid should immediately retract and apologize for his remarks. It begs the question, does Leader Reid value people more in one part of our country more than another?”
The verbal fusillade prompted Reid to turn into a tasty Louisiana crustacean…
“In my recent comments criticizing House Republicans for threatening to betray Congress’ tradition of providing aid to disaster victims in a timely fashion regardless of region, I simply misspoke,” Reid said in a statement. “I am proud to have been an advocate for disaster victims in the face of Republican foot-dragging, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, from fires in the west to tornadoes in the Midwest.”
Reid said he has worked hard with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., “to ensure that the people of the Gulf Coast have the resources they need to fully recover, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf until the region is fully recovered.”
And Reid’s backtracking gave his Democrat colleague cover for her own rather tepid – and tardy – release…
“Leader Reid misspoke and he has clarified his statement. Sen. Reid has been a strong advocate for the Gulf Coast’s recovery after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I am confident that he will continue to provide extraordinary leadership and support to the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast moving forward, as well as champion the needs of the people of the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”
There isn’t much Landrieu can say in the wake of Reid’s stupid gaffe. Cassidy had it precisely right in admonishing Reid for comparing natural disasters; there is nothing to be gained by saying this one was worse than that one, particularly for politicians, and Reid violated a relatively easy rule of political discourse to follow.
That said, dismissing the Friday gaffe as “Reid misspoke” doesn’t quite cut it. He didn’t have a slip of the tongue, any more than Todd Akin “misspoke” when he attempted to make the case that women have a vaginal goalkeeper who comes to life to keep a rape from turning into a pregnancy. That was a statement of belief, not a flub. By the current definition of a gaffe as an ill-advised statement which gets its maker in trouble, it was that. But Reid said what he wanted to say. That what he wanted to say was offensive to people who aren’t interested in their having lost their possessions, homes, pets or family members (or perhaps all four) minimized as “nothing like” some other tragedy they’re debating aid for in Washington doesn’t mean his misspoke.
What Reid needed to do was APOLOGIZE. And he didn’t do that. He said he misspoke but refused to say the magic words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” or even “I regret.”
Like Vitter noted, Harry Reid is too stupid for regrets. And Landrieu blew an opportunity to at least call him on that fact today by accepting his chicken-crap “I misspoke” statement.