Speaking of Harry Reid, the senator received an honorary degree and gave the commencement address over the weekend at his law school alma mater, George Washington University. Some of the speech dealt with the judicial filibuster problem, which had not yet been settled, and that section of the address was widely reported across the nation. But another part of the speech—an apology—went unreported:
“I last set foot on George Washington’s campus in January of 1964. That is the time I graduated from law school. In the 40 years since, I haven’t been back to campus or returned a letter. I’ve been holding a grudge.
“Law school was hard for me—I worked six full days a week as a policeman at the U.S. Capitol, and I was a full-time law student. At the time, my wife and I were very young and didn’t have a lot of money. We had a young daughter and, as I said, I was working full time and going to school full time. My wife was pregnant and wasn’t able to work.
“With my job at the Capitol, we managed to get by, but just barely. Then one fateful day, my Buick Roadmaster’s transmission collapsed. So here we were—no car, no way to get to work, too many bills, and now a car needing its own help.
“Seeking assistance and counsel, I sought one of the law school deans. After I explained my situation, he looked me in the eye and gave me this advice: ‘Why don’t you just quit law school?’
“I don’t remember exactly what I thought he would say, but that was not it. I thought perhaps he would offer some words of encouragement, or maybe even some assistance—but I never imagined he would tell me just to quit. Since that day, I’ve harbored ill-will towards this school. He was only one man, but his words stung, and they stuck with me for years.
“In retrospect, I should have gotten over it sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t. So I apologize to the entire faculty, administration and all of the law students for my pettiness. It’s not how I’ve tried to live my life.”
Reid said the filibuster battle and debate over the nomination of judges had “caused me to be conscious of advice and forgiveness.”