It was "Reid vs. Palin" in a Thursday afternoon "Caucus " posting by congressional reporter Carl Hulse, who firstdowngraded an insult Senate Majority leader Harry Reid hurled at Republican presidential nominee John McCain, then let Reid take aim at Sarah Palin.
Hulse is apparently grading Reid'sinsults on a curve:
Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, took some harsh shots at President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney during his speech  at the Democratic National Convention a week ago. Last night, it was payback time from Gov. Sarah Palin in her prime-time address.
In her remarks, the Alaska governor gave wide visibility to Mr. Reid's recent observation to a Las Vegas newspaper that he could not stand Senator John McCain, a comment that one might not expect from one senator about another but certainly not the most derogatory observation Mr. Reid has made about someone.
In response, Governor Palin presented her view of Mr. Reid's rationale.
"Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man," she said about Mr. Reid's sentiment. "Clearly what the majority leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain. That is only one more reason to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House," she said as the crowd roared.
Hulse almost sounded like he was sticking up for a pal here:
Now Harry Reid is hardly thin-skinned and almost anything else Ms. Palin could have said about him might not have drawn much of a reaction. But to the former boxer from tiny Searchlight, Nev., that insinuation from Governor Palin amounts to fighting words. He sees himself as more than capable of standing up to Mr. McCain and, through spokesman Jim Manley, Mr. Reid fired back.
"Anyone who knows Senator Reid knows he never backs down when he's fighting for what's right and that he always stands up to John McCain when he is wrong," said Mr. Manley. "Shrill and sarcastic political attacks may fire up the Republican base, but they don't change the fact that a McCain-Palin administration would mean four more years of failed Bush-Cheney policies."