Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says things from time to time that are at best impolitic and at worst pretty offensive.The term for both of these things in today's political vernacular is "gaffe."
"The Asian population is so productive," Reid told the group. "I don't think you're smarter than anybody else, but you've convinced a lot of us you are."
He added after his remarks that he has problems "keeping my Wongs straight." (Rimshot.) The remarks are already being given the g-word treatment. And, yes, they are certainly questionable.
Update 12:45 p.m.: Reid has now apologized, saying in a statement: "My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing."
But Reid has also made a career out of saying such odd things -- so much so that few tend to notice stuff like this. He's like Joe Biden; he's almost built up a gaffe immunity by committing so many small-ish gaffes.
It's hard to argue Reid (and Biden, for that matter) doesn't pay a price -- given his unpopularity back home and nationally -- but he has yet to ruin his career. Here's a sampling of some of Reid's greatest gaffes:
1) "Negro dialect"
Reid's description of President Obama, in the book "Game Change," included the remark that Obama was "light-skinned" and had "no Negro dialect -- unless he wanted to have one" (a suggestion that Obama's race helped him in 2008) and forced an apology from Reid in 2010.
2) Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years
Reid alleged in the 2012 presidential campaign that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes in 10 years -- a claim that Reid attributed to an unnamed person and turned out to be totally unfounded. At the same time, it had the desired effect, forcing a conversation about Romney's taxes. So it's kind of hard to call this a "gaffe." Still, what about Reid's credibility?
3) The hottest senator
Reid at a 2010 fundraiser referred to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as the "hottest member" of the Senate, with her sitting just a few feet away, according to Politico's Maggie Haberman.
4) Those smelly tourists
Offered without comment:
5) Ted Kennedy's death helping Obamacare
Reid said in 2009 that Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) death would help Democrats pass his life-long political cause: health-care reform. "I think it’s going to help us," Reid said.
6) No Hispanic Republicans?
That's what Reid alleged in 2010: "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK." This is only a partial list, of course. Some off these things -- especially the Romney comments -- can be chalked up to political gamesmanship. And Reid is nothing if not a political animal. But he's also the leader of the United States Senate. And his career of middling gaffes is a tribute to just how anonymous the leader of upper chamber can remain -- along with how over-used the term "gaffe" is these days.