Our Views: Reid, Vitter spar on storm

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said a really dumb thing recently when he told fellow senators that Hurricane Katrina was “nothing in comparison” to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. We’re glad that Reid later apologized for those remarks, which were made as Reid urged lawmakers to approve a disaster aid package for Sandy victims.

We’ll take Reid at his word that he didn’t mean to say what he said. His suggestion that Sandy caused more damage than Katrina was obviously untrue. Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and caused more than $100 billion in damage. Sandy took the lives of about 250 people and caused an estimated $60 billion to $80 billion in damage.

We can understand why U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was upset by Reid’s comments. Even so, we don’t think Vitter helped matters by calling Reid an idiot because of what Reid said. “Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents,” Vitter said.

Vitter’s characterization of Reid will no doubt prove popular here in Louisiana, where Katrina’s destruction continues to resonate. We certainly agree that Reid’s comments were deplorable, but Vitter’s name-calling is beneath the dignity of a U.S. senator. Such comments don’t help advance the kind of cooperation that’s needed on Capitol Hill.

We hope that Reid and Vitter can put this matter behind them and focus on the real work required of Congress.