The Nevada GOP is questioning the veracity of a story told by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his "brush with a car bomb after serving as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission back in the early 1980s." Congressional reporter Carl Hulse came "swiftly" to Reid's defense, deriding the Republican charge as a "possible Swiftboat attack" in a Wednesday afternoon post on the Times "Caucus" blog, "Reid's Campaign Bats Back at Deflated Bomb Tales."
The Times is once again implying the Swift Boat attacks were false. That's how the Times treated the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's "unsubstantiated" accusations against Sen. John Kerry's claims during the 2004 presidential campaign.
So Mr. Reid's allies were not about to take it lightly when Nevada Republicans, eager to unseat the top Democrat in the Senate next year, began hinting around on talk radio that the device found in Mr. Reid's car was not really a threat - if it existed at all. One potential opponent chuckled at the car bomb story on air, questioning whether it occurred, and Gov. Jim Gibbons sought to play down the danger as well.
"My understanding is it was a telephone book and a shoe box," the governor said, according to an account in the Las Vegas Sun.
Sensing a possible Swiftboat attack, the Reid campaign responded aggressively, assembling police and bomb squad reports from the time as well as newspaper accounts that showed authorities took very seriously the discovery of a wire leading from the spark plug of his Oldsmobile station wagon to its gas tank. There was no explosion, but the car's electrical system began malfunctioning.
Hulse appears to be using the term "Swiftboat" as a synonym for "false." But it was the Swift Boat Vets who seemed to have more of the truth on its side when Kerry was forced to retract his recollections of spending Christmas 1968 on an illegal mission into Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
Hulse, who has little patience for conservative arguments, concluded with praise for Reid's "rapid-response" self-defense:
Mr. Reid also wrote about it in his book, "The Good Fight," saying that he and his family began starting their cars by remote control. "I began carrying a gun with me wherever I went," he wrote. "I was told to never be caught defenseless."
Judging by the rapid response to the Republicans on the bombing story, he hasn't let those defenses down yet.