The Unspectacular Harry Reid

“There should be a redeployment and after May 1st of next year all American troops should be out of there except those dealing with counterterrorism, training Iraqis, and protecting our assets. No precipitous withdrawal. But academics and military people say Iraq is in chaos right now. Al-Qaeda has an enemy, it's the United States. Even Iraqis, by a 70 percent margin, think that Americans in Iraq are doing more harm than good. So getting the Americans out of Iraq, except for those troops that I've just talked about, I think would lessen chaos rather than increase it.

But the marketing principal of “it’s not what you’re selling, but how you sell it” applies to politics, and there’s not much in Mr. Reid’s game to convince someone who doesn’t already know and like his product to buy in.

It wasn’t until the tail end of his segment that Mr. Reid emerged for the audience a colorful, three-dimensional figureironically by straying into the very territory that has earned him the loose-cannon label.

Mr. Schieffer brought up Mr. Reid’s past statements about President Bush, noting that the Majority Leader had apologized for calling Mr. Bush “a loser”but not for calling him “a liar.” Do you still think he’s a liar, Mr. Schieffer inquired.

“Well, Bob, when I have dealings with people and they tell me one thing and do something else, they're not telling the truth, what else do you have to call them?” Mr. Reid replied, adding that he still likes the president personally. That prompted a follow-up from an incredulous Mr. Schieffer, who wondered if those sentiments weren’t at odds with each other.

“I call them the way I see them,” said Mr. Reid. “I mean, I thought Alan Greenspanwhen they asked me about himI said I thought he was the biggest political hack in Washington. That's how I felt. Why shouldn't I say that?”

At that, a bemused Mr. Schieffer decided to offer the floor to Mr. Reid, inviting the Majority Leader “to take off on” anyone else he desired to. Mr. Reid declined, but noted that “if it comes to my mind and I feel like answering a question, I should do it honestly. I'm going to continue to do that.” Thus ended the segment.

It may be the only thing anyone remembers from Harry Reid’s visit to “Face the Nation.”