No Pity

Badly Injured Harry Reid Just Fitness-Shamed America

How Harry Reid became a missile in an exercise band is a mystery. But the Senate Minority Leader, facing losing the sight in one eye, wants you to know he does 250 sit-ups a day.

01.10.15 1:40 AM ET

How big is Harry Reid’s living room in his new house?

What “bands” were encasing him, and how?

How was he flung across a room at such velocity by a  
“band” that ultimately did such horrendous damage to his face that he may well lose the sight in his right eye? The accident also led to him breaking a number of bones around his right eye, four ribs, and left him with a concussion.

What resistance training is Harry Reid doing?

Was Harry Reid in fact climbing the walls of his own home, and swinging from the chandeliers? Was he apeing Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction?

What is this “band” made of? Has it got serrated studs?

How ripped must Harry Reid be?

These are the disparate questions emerging from Reid’s media confessional about the circumstances of sustaining some pretty nasty injuries from exercise, the ferocity of which goes to show that a gin and tonic is better for you than physical exertion. Photographs of Reid show him with a bandaged and taped right eye, and lots of discoloration and puffiness around the same, like an injured teddy bear.

Reid’s New Year’s Day accident meant he missed the first day of the 114th Congress this week, in which he was demoted from Senate Majority leader to Minority Leader.

He told KNPR’s State of Nevada station that he may not recover the sight in his right eye, but he and his doctors remain hopeful. Other photographs showed Reid meeting with colleagues at home. The message (student loans, the Keystone Pipeline were all topics swiftly moved on to) was business as usual, even though his doctors had ordered him to rest and he looked really beaten-up.

Not that he wants your pity: Team Reid’s spin revolves around the revelation of how much exercise Reid does—as memorable as his damaged face is the 250 sit-ups Reid does at a time.

Harry Reid doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him; quite the opposite, it’s the first injury story where you end up feeling envious of the injured—especially as he may be significantly older than many of the readers of his sorry tale.

“I don’t know how many people out there could sit down and do 250 pushups or do the strength exercise I did with those bands hundreds and hundreds of times—hundreds of times—every week, three times a week,” Reid said. “So no one has to question my physical ability.”

Somehow, instead of us being concerned over the possibility of his semi-blindness, Harry Reid just fitness-shamed America.

The accident was described in vivid terms by Dick Durbin, Reid’s No 2: “So, he was stretching these straps and one broke and tossed him like a slingshot against cabinets, built-in cabinets. He crashed into it with his face and the side of his body.”

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“This isn’t anything that is a slam dunk,” Reid said. “I had a serious injury in my eye. There was some blood accumulation there and they’re hoping it resolves itself.” He was just following doctors’ orders: “It’s a day-to-day deal.”

How Reid managed to make himself into a human elastic band missile is a  mystery—he told the radio show about using the second-strongest band there is (it’s gray, apparently), and being slammed into those cabinets. Please, no joke about enduring the slings and arrows of politics, or of being knocked off your perch, or about attempting to bounce back.

Whatever else one says about Harry Reid is, the man clearly does resistance band training at a level to make the queen of that particular exercise trend, Tracy Anderson, blanch.

“I’ve always been fairly confident in my ability to fight back,” Reid insisted. “I’ll continue to fight back. I’m in the process of setting up for the next go-around.”

This pugnaciousness is apposite for a 75-year-old former boxer, and Reid insisted butchly on a YouTube video: “As most people know I fought for a couple years. After any of those fights I never looked like I do now.”

In a raspy voice, he jokes that didn’t get “this black eye”—which is far more than a black eye, we now know—“by sparring with Manny (Pacquiao), or challenging Floyd Mayweather, or bullriding, or riding a motorcycle.”

Reid looks better, more craggily attractive, injured in his rather spiffily color-trimmed brown cardigan than he ever does in his suits, and made up for the cameras.

And just so we don’t think the accident has in any way dented his Iron Man resolve (although maybe he should lay off for a couple of days—just an idea), his spokesman tweeted on Friday Reid’s fearsome huff-and-puff regimen: “To recap Sen. Reid’s exercise routine: 250 SITUPS 3x/wk (750 total). Arm & chest: 420 reps w/exercise band 3x/wk. Walks 3 mi/day. Plus yoga.”

Now, all this boasting may yet be a swaggering, diversionary tactic from the more pressing question of how on earth this injury took place, and will the offending “band” be prosecuted for assault?

But still, 750 freaking sit-ups a week? As one person responded.

And who’s to say Reid’s team is underselling that, so he doesn’t seem too freakishly exercise-addicted? I reckon, make that 250 sit-ups a day. Harry Reid has abs of such steel that “Hottie Harry” should, as soon as he feels able to—shirtless, obviously—grace the cover of Men’s Health. Suggested headline: “There’s Nothing Minority About Harry ‘Reps’ Reid.”