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Goodbye to Tom Reed

Submitted by Robin Messing on Thu, 05/12/2022 - 8:11am

Congressman Tom Reed announced last year that he would not be running for re-election because of a sexual assault allegation made against him. (See this story from last year for more information about the alleged sexual assault.) But we just received a surprise when Reed unexpectedly resigned early on May 10. We are now without a Congressman to represent our district. 

I do not know why he resigned so suddenly, but there are three possible reasons:

  1. He is joining the Prime Policy Group, a bipartisan Washington, D.C. lobbying firm. This is the reason he stated for his early resignation. But is it rthe real reason for his early resignation? Couldn’t he have waited until his term was up to join? Maybe not. Maybe they had a position that they had to fill right away. Still, I’m sure there would have been a job open somewhere for Reed as a Washington lobbyist had he waited until the end of his term to seek new employment.
  2. Reed wanted to resign early so that a special election could be held for his replacement. This could enable another Republican to win his seat, giving the rookie Congressperson the advantage of incumbency going into the 2022 election. My guess is that this is the most likely reason for his early resignation.
  3. Reed knew there was a new scandal involving him that was about to drop. He may have resigned early in the hopes that his resignation would prevent a shoe from falling.

I have written about Reed often in this blog He was a slippery politician who was no hero for democracy, but he was not as cravenly evil as full blown MAGA politicians. I started paying close attention to him when he came out against the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015. I was particularly struck by his "poll" about the deal that he sent to his constituents in Augst of that year. It was so deliberately slanted and misleading  that it was obviously designed to convince his constituents to oppose the deal or to get their endorsement of his already-pre-determined position.

Tom Reed accused President Obama and John Plumb, his opponent in the 2016 race, of being soft on Russia. He accused Russia of being a “threat to our national security” and called Putin “reactionary and dangerous.” He accused Obama and Plumb of bending the knee to Putin, but he was strangely muted when Trump showed abject weakness to the many signs of Russian aggression. Reed’s support of Trump despite Trump’s weakness was so extreme that I wondered if he was a victim of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Now don’t get me wrong. Reed was not a QAnon/MAGA Coup-Coup-for-Cocoa-Puffs kind of guy. He seemed like a very agreeable fellow. In fact, his theme was “Let's agree to disagree.” He earnestly sought to seek bipartisan compromise in his Problem Solvers Caucus. And he was extremely quick to recognize Joe Biden’s victory and congratulate him for his win.

But he never really gave a full-throated denouncement of Trump’s Big Lie or the voter suppression laws his fellow Republicans passed in response to the it. While his fellow Republicans were trying to gut our democracy with a poisoned knife, Reed was staking out the Mushy Middle. We needed a Lion for democracy. Unfortunately, Reed will forever be remembered as that timid mythological beast known as the Weaselmouse.

Now that he is out of politics, I hope Reed will search his heart, recognize that our democracy is under attack by right-wing extremists, and join the efforts of others to thwart that attack. That is my hope, but I am not holding my breath.