Sunday, January 15, 2006

Harry Reid: Nevada Lawman

The media pundits have decided that Senator Reid is a bit too reserved for politics, celebrity style. No matter: Reid's about as near to an authentic Democrat since Bobby Kennedy. (Alright, Gary Hart was moving towards victory until the fundies and soccer mommies found out Gary actually consumed alcoholic beverages and had had sex with women)

Reid's political career was made in the 70s fighting Vegas mobsters as the Chairman of the Nevade Gaming Commission (a Reid-like character was featured in Scorcese's Casino--he denies a license to the mobster played by De Niro). That's a bit more significant a job history than most liberal polticos might claim: internship in an Ivy League or Bay Area non-profit agency not really adequate preparation for taking on the Mob or dixie fundamentalists.

"Reid may not be the most colorful figure in Washington, but his career is far more interesting than that of the average senator. In politics, Nevada is the next best thing to Louisiana. To take just one example, is there another U.S. senator who has been part of the inspiration for a character in a Martin Scorsese film? (A character played by Dick Smothers, no less.) In Casino, Robert DeNiro's character melts down in front of the Nevada Gaming Commission after the commission denies him a license to operate a casino. The scene is loosely based on a December 1978 hearing when Reid was the commission's chairman, and some of the dialogue spoken by Smothers is taken directly from Reid's words during the hearing. (The rest of the scenes involving Smothers, who plays a composite politician known only as "Senator," have nothing to do with Reid.) OK, it's lackluster Scorsese, but at least it's not Gangs of New York. And there are other Reid echoes in Casino: Joe Pesci's character refers to a "Mr. Cleanface," which gangster Joe Agosto said was his nickname for an in-his-pocket Reid, but a five-month investigation of Agosto's claims cleared Reid of wrongdoing.""


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