Well that’s probably anyone who used the words “Harry Reid” and “leadership” in the same sentence.
On Wednesday night, Democrats went to sleep expecting a productive, but not necessarily radical, reform of the filibuster rules that have allowed Mitch McConnell and the GOP to effectively run the U.S. Senate despite being in the minority. After previously waffling on the question of reform, Reid had finally gotten frustrated and publicly brandished his power to change the rules with a simple majority.
To the shock of Democrats, they woke up on Thursday to a memo from Reid and McConnell announcing a deal that accomplished all of nothing. There are now fewer stops on the legislative train where McConnell can derail bills…but make no mistake that his power to derail those bills remains.
It’s just another instance of the majority leader’s pesky unwillingness to actually “lead.”
I like Harry Reid as far as Senators go. I never had a serious problem with him until he ascended to his leadership role. Often Reid substitutes, “breaking openly with the White House and fellow Democrats” for “leadership.” Sometimes a leader breaks away from the status quo, but more often a leader is someone who gets their marching orders accomplished quickly and efficiently. Breaking from the lockstep by shooting yourself in the foot is ineffective.
And we all know how this will turn out: within weeks of this new spirit of bipartisanship, Mitch McConnell will begin filibustering everything in sight. Harry Reid will go on the news and whine about McConnell betraying their deal. McConnell will publicly mock Reid for being the weakest Senate leader in the modern era, and Harry Reid will take the floor with a tearful apology to Merkley and Udall for not going with their plan.
And another Senate session is lost.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite has an interesting take on this whole debacle. Christopher thinks that Harry Reid balked because he didn’t want to set the precedent that a simple majority can invoke the “nuclear option” to change the rules. In Reid’s mind, if the Republicans regained the Senate he did not want to have set a precedent that would allow them to abuse the Democrats with a simple majority.
But, as Christopher points out, McConnell and the Republicans really couldn’t care less about the precedent set today. They will invoke the nuclear option if it suits their needs and not bat an eye.
Perhaps the best way to sum up Harry Reid’s leadership is to point out that his greatest accomplishment required the entire Senate to be empty.