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The death of a former President usually means that the leadership of all three branches of the government gather to mourn on behalf of the nation and to pay final respects to those once chosen to lead it. These events come rarely and allow for a moment of ceremonial unity in the political world. Not every politician attends, but leadership is expected to make their appearances.
However, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his chief deputy Dick Durbin apparently can't be bothered. They had a junket scheduled to tour Macchu Picchu, and by golly, no dead President will convince them to reschedule:
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will miss the state funeral for former President Gerald Ford at the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday night, opting instead to lead a delegation to South America with an expected stop at the Machu Picchu Inca ruins.
Reid, D-Nev., left Wednesday afternoon from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with a bipartisan group of five other senators, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the incoming assistant majority leader, for what has been described as a weeklong visit to Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
The highlight of the trip is said to be separate meetings with the presidents of the three nations, with the last one scheduled in Peru on Tuesday morning.
"They would be difficult to cancel," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said via mobile phone as the congressional delegation took off in a U.S. military plane.
Baloney. It's not hard to cancel; all one has to do is to contact the consulates of those nations and explain that when one of our former Presidents pass away, elected leadership is expected to attend the funeral. Nor is it the case that Ford died after they left the country, as the junket started with an afternoon flight today.
They do have an excuse, however. Their spokesman noted that relations with the three nations are in need of improvement. Apparently, Reid has a deadline for improved relations that requires him to accomplish it on the day of Gerald Ford's funeral.
What a classless act, and Reid, Durbin, Kent Conrad, Judd Gregg, Robert Bennett, and Ken Salazar should be ashamed of themselves. If Harry Reid can't figure out that his new position as Majority Leader carries some extra responsibilities, then perhaps the Democrats need to find someone who does understand it.
UPDATE: Hugh says --- Turn. The. Plane. Around.Sphere It View blog reactions
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