Today I rise in defense of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been under attack from all quarters because of a joking comment he made suggesting that tourists to the Capitol sometimes smell.
During the opening ceremony for the new Capitol Visitor Center last week, he said: "In the summertime, because of the high humidity and how hot it gets here, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol."
According to an Associated Press story, Reid sought to explain himself in a letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal today.
"Much has been made of my comments at the opening of the Capitol Visitors Center," Reid wrote. "Anyone who took the time to watch my statement or read it in full knows the point I was making: I'm always pleased when the Capitol is filled with citizens eager to learn about our country's great history and the work we do in that historic building."
No need to make a (non) apology or (sort of) clarification. Tourists do smell, Harry. It's a well-known fact.
The reason that tourists are malodorous is that they tend to be overweight and they insist on wearing shirts made from perspiration-encouraging fibers. Moreover, given airline limits on baggage, today's tourists do not carry much spare clothing and therefore do not get to launder items as much as personal hygiene requires.
So they roam the world's capitals like a herd of buffaloes in Hawaiian shirts, emitting a great cloud of BO fumes. It is disgusting, yes, but at least they are soaking up history.
When I am finally put out to pasture by the newspaper industry, I intend to market an effective under-tourist deodorant. The current range of products do not do the job, perhaps because tourists regularly drop mustard all over themselves every time they stop at a hot dog cart, thus clogging their pores and fermenting their bodily vapors until such time as these erupt outside the Lincoln Memorial or in the National Gallery.
Until my product is perfected, the only thing residents of D.C. can do is carry a nosegay (uptight visitors may be assured that a nosegay doesn't mean that the rest of your body isn't heterosexual).
What really stinks here is that a politician can't surprise us by telling the truth without critics getting on his case.