Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suffered a personal calamity yesterday when his wife Landra and daughter Lana were injured in a chain collision on a Virginia interstate. Although both mother and daughter are apparently out of danger, Landra Reid’s injuries included, according to Reid’s spokesman, a “broken nose, a broken back, a broken neck.” Anyone who has suffered the sudden and serious injury of a loved one knows this must be consuming all his thoughts, and will instinctively utter a prayer for her recovery.
Which is why I was struck by the following few lines in the New York Times‘s coverage of the accident:
Reid, D-Nev., went to the hospital after being notified of the accident and returned to Capitol Hill for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on efforts to pass health care legislation. He went back to the hospital Thursday evening.
I really don’t mean to sound nitpicky. I understand that the American people have been waiting a long time for progress on health care. And that in the face of personal tragedy, there is something stirring about Reid’s commitment to the needs of the nation. I also understand that his wife’s injuries, though serious, are not life-threatening. Yet there is still something very upsetting about not giving the guy a day off to be with his wife and daughter, who may have just escaped a far worse tragedy. I don’t want to speculate whether he insisted on attending the meeting, or whether it was Emanuel and Pelosi who pushed it; even if he insisted, they should still have just canceled. Nor does it help to take the ultra-cynical view and say that, hey, they’re all politicians, and they will always put politics ahead of everything. Because even according to this approach, what does it say about what the voters are looking for in their leaders? Shouldn’t it be to the politicians’ advantage to appear as caring individuals who understand that there are just times when you drop everything and deal with the real things in life — especially if they’re asking for the nation’s trust in caring for the sick and injured across America?
But I’d rather not go down that route. I’d rather just chalk it all up to the inscrutability of human things, and wish the best for Reid’s family.