Harry Reid Gives Impressive Speech at BYU

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came to BYU today. There was a fairly large turnout to hear him speak at the Marriott Center. No, he didn't say anything about Rush Limbaugh. But he did have some pretty interesting things to say. I didn't agree with all of them, but I now have a much more firm basis to respect him as both a person and a politician.

Update 10/10/2007: Senator Reid subsequently says some very unimpressive things about "right-wing" members of the LDS Church.

Many people would rather listen to entertainers like Rush Limbaugh to get their information about what kind of person Senator Reid is. That would be a dire mistake. I decided to go to the source, and I am glad I did. I enjoyed what I discovered. Senator Reid said in his speech that "I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon," and not the other way around. I found his sincerity about his political beliefs genuine. I agree with him that people of various political parties can be true to their religious faith.

Harry Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada to poor parents. There were no worship services of any kind in the town; instead there were 13 brothels. He was one of 6 eighth graders to graduate in his elementary school class. Franklin D. Roosevelt was to the Reid family something of an icon.

For high school he boarded with an aunt and uncle in Henderson, 50 miles away, and on some weekends he would hitchhike home to Searchlight. His aunt was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and she gave him his first knowledge of Jesus Christ and his gospel. His wife was Jewish, and was nearly disowned by her parents when she and Harry got married. Soon after marriage, they attended Utah State University, where their landlord interested them more in the gospel, and they were soon baptized into the LDS Church.

Here are some of the political issues he discussed, my paraphrasal of his comments in italics, and my comments in regular text.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt fought for the working man. Because of him and his successes at relief and restoration, Senator Reid believes that government can be our friend when it comes to helping us get back on our feet. Social Security has been the most successful support program ever. I've mentioned recently on this site that I think FDR made some terrible mistakes. Although government can in rare circumstances be of help in such times of need, local government should take care of those problems. I believe that the time for paying the piper that FDR hired is fast approaching.
  • Unions have been responsible for many positive developments. I didn't used to agree with this, but now I do. Capitalism can indeed be oppressive, and unions can be a good counter to the uncharitable task master. But I also believe that individuals have a 'right to work' without being in a union.
  • Global warming exists, and the free market can't deal with it. It is not a cyclical phenomenon. We should be looking for alternative energy sources. I agree that global warming exists, and I agree that we should be looking for alternate energy sources, but I disagree with both of Senator Reid's other statements listed here. The free market can deal with any issue if left unfettered by government, but global warming is not a crisis, because it is cyclical.
  • "Iraq was the greatest US Foreign Policy blunder ever." Those, if not his exact words, are very close. This is one statement for which a more than moderate smattering applause could be heard in the Marriott Center. After he said that some people believe the Iraq invasion was a good thing, a smaller smattering of counter-applause occurred. I don't think it was the worst foreign policy blunder ever, because I think it is the continuation and result of the greatest blunder in the history of US Policy--that is US foreign policy in general. So, essentially, I agree with Harry Reid on this issue.
  • "I am pro-life." Other Democrats are pro-life. I agree.
  • Mitt Romney's campaign success should be determined by his policies, not his religion. This statement got the largest ovation. I completely agree. When Mitt's father ran for public office several years ago, his religion hardly entered into the discussion. Now Mitt's detractors seem to use his religion as a bludgeon. That being said, I will not vote for Mitt Romney, because I don't like his policies. I think Senator Reid would agree.
  • King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon said that when you serve your fellow men, you serve your God. Public service is an excellent way to serve your fellow men. Various LDS leaders have given public service in politics. Mormon missionaries are generally good public servants because they live among the people, the are clean, and they learn the language and culture of their host nation. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Although I disagree with Harry Reid on certain political issues (particularly the efficacy of social welfare programs), I did feel the power of his testimony, and the Holy Spirit bore witness to me that Harry Reid is a great and respectable man, and that he does have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ.

I'm glad I didn't rely on some entertainment-politico to tell me 'what I needed to know' about Harry Reid, because I would have never learned these important things about an important individual.

Update 10/10/2007: Normally following BYU Forums, there is a question and answer session with those interested in attending. This time there wasn't. I thought it was because the Senator was pressed for time. In actuality, Senator Reid had a press conference following his speech, in which he said some very rude things about former LDS Church president Ezra Taft Benson. Maybe he didn't think they were rude, but they were.
In remarks to the media following his address, Reid said that, "In the past years we've had some very prominent members of the church, like Ezra Taft Benson, who are really right-wing people.
"Members of the church are obedient and followers in the true sense of the word, but these people have taken members of the church down the path that is the wrong path," he said.
However, Reid says he doesn't have to answer to those who question his faith in the LDS Church.
"I have to go get my [temple] recommend, and they're not present," he quipped.
Okay, so now I'm not so impressed. Why didn't he say that to the BYU audience if he was being sincere about it?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the summary, I would have liked to hear his speech.

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  2. BYU Broadcasting Generally has devotional and forum addresses available in MP3 and text format a few days after the fact. Try here to see if it's available.

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  3. Senator Reid said:

    "Global warming exists, and the free market can't deal with it. It is not a cyclical phenomenon. We should be looking for alternative energy sources."

    You said"
    "The free market can deal with any issue if left unfettered by government"

    First off free market does not deal with many issues. That is where government comes in. Example: Who in their right mind would try to make money buy maintaining roads? Or cleaning up the environment? Or in many parts of the country even education is a block. This is where government intervention steps in. It fills gaps where the free market fails. Free market won't solve global warming issues, because it is not economically profitable to do so.

    You are correct that right now in the US global warming is not yet a crisis. However it is cyclical in that it the problem is not changing, however our perception if the issue is cyclical. When it is of debate, strong feelings are pressed towards it, and when it is not there is little mention of it.

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  4. Here is what Reid said about global warming. "I say global warming is here and is an environmental emergency. Some say it is only nature cycling and our free enterprise system will deal with it." So he didn't explicitly deny that there is a cyclical nature to global temperatures as Frank implied.

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  5. Reid has openly lied about many things, he deceives people all the time, and hasn't lived up to anything that he said he would do. I wouldn't think that any religion would want this man representing them.

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  6. I will admit that I don't know much about Senator Reid. But I don't want to hear it from Rush Limbaugh. Are there things that you know that weren't from Rush Limbaugh about Reid that are bad?

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  7. I've also found the full text of the speech here. After glancing through the text, it appears to be what he actually said (or in other words that he kept to his prepared notes).

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  8. Frank, was that a question to me? Just want to make sure.

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  9. It was just a general observation and question. But if you have insights, I'd be glad to hear them. I've talked with other fellow BYU employees, and one of them said that he was impressed with Harry Reid as a person, but not as a politician. He said something like "Reid's understanding of the proper role of government could fit in a thimble." This might be not a tactful way of saying it, but I essentially agree. His growing up without religion and his family's reverence for FDR, though, does explain a lot about where he's coming from.

    So, in a nutshell, I think Harry Reid is not a great politician but that he is a great and sincere person. If you have insight that would correct my observation about him as a person, that would be great.

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  10. Thanks for that... I must admit I think I respect him a lot more as well, having read that.

    I have been pleasantly surprized, since getting of the Ultra Conservative band wagon myself, that most people have the best of intentions, and that there is good in both parties. You just need to break out of the polarized funk promoted by the Limbaughs and MoveOn's of the world.

    As to his comments about President Benson... I'm not sure I would classify them as rude, and if that is indeed the case, I think the problem lies with members who are unable to realize that while a prophet may speak for God, he also maintains his own free agency and opinions. The plan of salvation was based on free agency, which only comes from being well informed. Blind obedience would seem to be closer to the other plan which was presented.

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  11. "o break out of the polarized funk"

    Exactly!

    You're probably right. I may have assumed it to be rude because I 'resemble his remark'.

    But along the lines of thinking for ourselves, there really ARE a lot of Mormons who don't. Unless there is sexual immorality involved, they are very apt to just follow the political leader.

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  12. Personally, I don't think the two can be separated. If you are a good person you would also be a good politician, as personal values define how you act in politics. Reid has insulted troops, lied about things others have said, ignored facts in order to maintain an invalid political opinion, and generally has acted without integrity.

    I like the line about the thimble, that's pretty good.

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  13. Rick,

    I see your point. The irony of my article and comments, perhaps, is that I don't want Rush Limbaugh to tell me who Harry Reid is, but I also can't figure out what Harry Reid's point is by attacking Rush Limbaugh in the Congress.

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  14. Frank,
    What was John Cornyn's point of attacking MoveOn in the Congress?

    It's political theater one in the same.

    As I've said before, there would have been no political response from Democrats if the Republicans hadn't gone ape-sh*t over an ad in the first place.

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  15. Don,

    You're right on this one as well. They ought to have a little more decorum all the way around in the congress.

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  16. Rick said:

    "Personally, I don't think the two can be separated. If you are a good person you would also be a good politician, as personal values define how you act in politics."

    I believe that this viewpoint effectively demonstrates the worst about American politics. The view that policy disagreements are the result of moral failings creates an atmosphere where every disagreement is virtually worth going to war over.

    The truth is that there are good people on both sides of most political issues. If we could separate the personal from the political politics would be a lot less ugly than it currently is.

    Urban Koda's comment was right on target. I too have recently revised previously held political beliefs and agree that most people do have good intentions and even those I disagree with often have logical reasoning to back up their policy positions.

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  17. I don't think Harry Reid is a good guy at all. (That's 14 years of being his constituent talking, mind you.) He's been involved in a series of shady land deals, one of his staffers came close to violating residency requirements when running for office in Nevada and his son has a series of ethics issues on the Clark County Commission. Add this to the mountains of money he gets from big gaming interests and his frequent position changes on the Yucca Mtn. repository and he's just another out-of-touch Washington insider. I also don't much like how he whips out his MormonCard around election time for some reliable votes; it's way too similar to what Hatch does.

    I'd like to see Harry try and procure some improved ethics from his faith instead of cheap political jabs.

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  18. Frank, Though I disagree with some of your analysis I applaud you for attending- I came across far too many people in Utah that because they dislike him, did not want to hear what Reid had to say.

    I agree, instead of getting our opinions from the mass media- be it CNN or Talk Radio, we should take advatage of every chance to listen to every side of an argument and make a well informed decision.

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  19. Bingo. Exactly. Right on.

    Instead, Utahns (and many others) are content to have heads full of mush and to wait until Monday so that Rush Limbaugh can tell them what they need to know that they missed over the weekend.

    That's why I don't listen to Rush. Or Hannity. Because they treat us like we're stupid. Apparently, many are....?

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  20. I am a Republican because of my faith. Harry must have missed much about the Church and it's teachings pertaining self sufficiency, free agency, church welfare, etc.

    The notion that having a government there to take care of social ills imposed by irresponsible citizens and playing the role of Robin Hood which justifys the stealing from the rich to provide for the poor.

    The Church which he belongs to would suggest that caring for the poor should come about by the goodness of mankind, not by strong arming them, but rather by sincere sacrafice of a willing heart. The widow's mite is illustration of this. The Saviour points out the signficance of her contrabution in spite of her limited means. There is no indication of how the publicans made this happen. Indeed, the publicans, tax collectors for those of you in Rio Linda, were looked down upon by the Saviour.

    I'm sorry, but Senator Reid's devotional talk made me want to puke! He made me feel that he was suggesting that unless you are a Democrat, you had no heart, no compassion. President Bush's tagline of compassionate conservatism has a good ring to it if it was ever implimented. The idea of giving a man a fish rather than teaching a man to fish seems more the ideals of the Democratic party and certainly distances itself from the LDS views on self sufficiency.

    I love a good rags to riches story as much as the next person, but I doubt that the unions of yester year which he spoke to doing so much for his family even remotely represent the unions of today which creates lazy workers and poorer quality. This is what has put the US at a disadvantage in the global market.

    As usual, even while speaking at a devotional, Harry Reid left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

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  21. I agree with pretty much everything you say, except that I'm not sure why you were so revolted by someone who seemed sincere in his beliefs.

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  22. Harry Reid is a pro-abortion Socialist. He is a Gadianton robber. He supports evil but is a better man than Chenney.

    Anyone that would be a Republican because of his religion certainly is not LDS. I doubt they could be Catholic or Baptist or Muslim or Jew.

    Maybe they could belong to the church of the German Reich that Hitler started.
    http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box31/a296p05.html

    After all the Republican party is the Neo-Fascist party while the Democrats are just old time Commies.

    By their fruit shall ye know them.

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  23. Harry Reid is a skillful liar, just like Korihor was. He speaks what is "pleasing to the carnal mind" while simultaneously working to undermine the very basis of our nation's existence. The Book of Mormon declares the Constitution to be a divinely inspired document. Harry Reid trashes it like it was a middle-schooler's position paper. Don't be fooled by wolves in sheeps' clothing!! It is Impossible for an evil spirit to hide from the eyes of those enlightened by the Holy Ghost. Compare Harry Reid to those things you KNOW to be true, and the answer to who Harry Reid is becomes a clear as a summer's morning.

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  24. Good point. I just read this blog post about Harry Reid somehow being a Mormon hero. Ooops!!! Wrong!!!! http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/12/21/mormon-hero/ 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. ;-)

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