Few would dare hang up on the president of the United States. But Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has a habit of ending phone calls as soon as he’s through with the conversation, even when it’s the commander-in-chief trying to chit chat on the other end of the line.
“You'll still be talking and you realize he's hung up,” President
Barack Obama said during his recent trip to Lake Tahoe. “It takes you, like,
three or four of these conversations to realize he's not mad at you, but he
doesn’t have much patience for small talk.”
Reid, the longtime leader of Senate Democrats, invited Obama to
speak at the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Aug. 31 in Stateline, Nevada.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara
Boxer joined them at the environmental gathering on the southern shore
overlooking the clear, cobalt water.
Obama told the crowd of at least 7,000 he’d been swapping stories
backstage about being hung up on by the 76-year-old senator from Searchlight, who rallied leaders to save the lake shared by Nevada and California.
“He’s a Westerner. He gets to the point. He doesn’t mince words.
And he hangs up on you,” former Sen. Max Baucus of Montana told the Huffington
Post in 2010. “You talk to him and he gets his work done and when he’s done, he
hangs up. But not because he’s angry — because he’s just finished the
Several other Democratic senators, including Al Franken of
Minnesota and Maria Cantwell of Washington, reported that they too have heard
the dial tone in lieu of parting words from Reid.
The son of a hard-rock miner simply doesn’t bother with goodbyes. He’s not one to stick around for an "attaboy" after getting a job
Acknowledging that Reid doesn’t usually like people talking about
him, Obama took advantage of his time at the summit to thank the senator, who is
retiring at the end of his current term.
The president described the tiny town south of Las Vegas where
Reid grew up — the parched sand with sparse patches of sagebrush and cactus
around Searchlight didn’t look anything like the Sierra Nevada’s tree-lined
mountains and crystalline water.
“So when Harry discovered a lush desert oasis down the road called
Piute Spring, he fell in love. And when Harry met Landra, the love of his life,
he couldn’t wait to take her there,” Obama said. “But when he got to the green
spring that Harry remembered, he was devastated to see that the place had been
trashed. And that day, Harry became an environmentalist.”
The president said Reid has since been working to preserve the
natural gifts of Nevada and the nation. He credited the senator for his
accomplishments as a conservationist during his 30 years in Congress.
“I'll miss Harry, even though he's not a sentimental guy,” Obama
After three decades of quietly finishing his work without so much
as a farewell, it’s unlikely that anyone expects Reid to say goodbye when he
leaves the Senate for the last time.