WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has kept a famously clean mouth throughout his long career. But that doesn't mean the Mormon from Nevada doesn't appreciate a good cuss out every now and then.
Reflecting in his Senate office on his "special relationship" with outgoing House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Reid recalled one particular moment that earned his respect.
In the midst of tense negotiations leading up to the "fiscal cliff" at the end of 2012, Reid was angry that Boehner was delaying the inevitable moment when he would turn to Democrats to help pass a compromise bill, and was instead hung up trying to win over the far out wing of his party. Reid went to the Senate floor and accused Boehner of running a "dictatorship" and worrying more about his own political future than the fate of the nation.
That was too much for Boehner.
"I stepped out of bounds, he thought, so he said, 'Go fuck yourself,'" Reid told HuffPost. "OK, I can accept that. Wasn't the first time. I appreciate his being honest with me. And I have found that always to be the case with John Boehner, so I will miss him."
"To be honest with you, I kind of liked the way he handled me," Reid added.
The hallway cuss out has long been known about in Washington, not least because Boehner bragged about it, but Reid has never addressed it publicly before.
Reid, never one for sentimentality or niceties -- he famously never says goodbye, instead simply hanging up when he considers the conversation over -- said that he and Boehner wound up working out a mutually beneficial relationship.
I stepped out of bounds, he thought, so he said, 'Go fuck yourself.' OK, I can accept that. ... To be honest with you, I kind of liked the way he handled me. Harry Reid on John Boehner
"I'm not going to get into detail as to what I think he did which was wrong, which was a lot. But for me, I believe that my -- I'm trying to find the right word; joy isn't the right word -- my satisfaction, that's the right word, of serving in public life has been my relationship with people. And my relationship with John Boehner has been excellent," he said.
"He and I have done things together. We don't go out on the floor and say, 'Look, Boehner and I are doing this!' He doesn't tell anybody, 'Hey, I talked to Reid today, we've got a plan.' We did a lot of things together; I never said anything to my caucus, it wouldn't have helped me. He didn't say anything to anybody, it wouldn't have helped him."
With Boehner having retired his post of speaker and resigned his seat in the House, Reid said he'll miss their time together, even if those times usually involved rescuing the Congress from massively damaging self-inflicted wounds. Over the past few weeks, they've talked more frequently, usually over the phone, often plotting ways to put together a budget deal that would prevent another government shutdown.
On Monday, Boehner dropped by Reid's office with only a few minutes' warning. They talked, with the speaker leaving the meeting with customary teary eyes. Reid said he liked it when Boehner told Politico that, like a garbage man getting used to the smell of garbage, he had grown accustomed to dealing with the conservatives in his caucus.
"John Boehner and I have a very special relationship. I think he would tell you that. ... He and I will always be friends," Reid said. "I'm sorry he didn't get more done as speaker; I'm sorry he tried for so long to try to do everything within a majority of the Republicans. He decided he couldn't do that: He broke from that a few times, which hurt him with his caucus, but it was the right thing to do."