This is being portrayed as a story about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., putting his foot in his mouth again:

"I am going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator," Reid told local TV talk show "Face to Face with Jon Ralston." "He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

Reid then walked back his comments: "Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that's an understatement," he said.

In fact, Reid was correct the first time. There's a reason the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this year to a Chinese dissident. There are many such dissidents in China, where a sarcastic tweet is sufficient to land you in a labor camp for re-education. There is no freedom of speech or freedom of religion in China. In November, the Chinese government coerced a number of Catholic bishops to participate in the rump ordination of a bishop without the pope's permission -- a violation of Canon Law that carries a penalty of excommunication.

People talk about tyranny in terms of what it does not allow you to do. But there is no worse tyranny than the kind that forces you to participate in something you believe to be evil. It's rather disappointing to watch Harry Reid, the adherent of a religion that has suffered many persecutions, get wobbly about calling a dictatorship a dictatorship.