Harry Reid Embarrassing the Democrats?
The dean of the Washington commentariat, David Broder, terms Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “The Democrats’ Gonzales.”
Here’s a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats — a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance. If you answered ” Harry Reid,” give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end.
This war is lost. But the war can be won. Not since Bill Clinton famously pondered the meaning of the word “is” has a Democratic leader confused things as much as Harry Reid did with his inept discussion of the alternatives in Iraq.
Nor is this the first time Senate Democrats, who chose Reid as their leader over Chris Dodd of Connecticut, have had to ponder the political fallout from one of Reid’s tussles with the language.
Hailed by his staff as “a strong leader who speaks his mind in direct fashion,” Reid is assuredly not a man who misses many opportunities to put his foot in his mouth. In 2005, he attacked Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, as “one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington.”
He called President Bush ” a loser,” then apologized. He said that Bill Frist, then Senate majority leader, had “no institutional integrity” because Frist planned to leave the Senate to fulfill a term-limits pledge. Then he apologized to Frist.
The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.
Ed Morrissey has several more examples, which he dubs “The Five Myths Of Harry.”
As I’ve noted many times, I always found Reid a likable and honorable fellow and think he’s simply unsuited to play the partisan hack role seemingly required of congressional leaders in recent years. That’s likely a sign of good character but it’s painful to watch. It reminds me of the declining days of George H. W. Bush’s re-election campaign, when a good man befuddled that he was losing to Bill Clinton started referring to his opponents as “bozos.”
However much Reid’s rantings cause Republicans and moderates to scratch their heads, it appears to be a winning strategy with the base. Kevin Hayden scoffs at the notion that Reid needs to be more tactful if he wants to be able to negotiate with the president.
There is nothing ‘essential’ in pursuing the futile exercise of negotiating with a single-minded fool. The only course left for Reid is to keep talking the truth, while Bush’s legislative sycophants keep digging their brown noses deep into his posterior.
Because the bigger war is the war to restore sanity to our government. And Reid is displaying leadership in that effort. It was only last year I doubted that Reid could set aside his centrist values to provide that degree of leadership. And now that he’s doing so, Broder claims he’s confusing everyone. While making it clear that the real solutions must wait ‘until a new president takes office.’
Greg Sargent agrees.
Reid has refused to back down on Iraq while simultaneously maintaining public approval of his approach? He’s also maintained a respectable 46% approval rating — far higher than Bush, who Broder says is on the verge of a comeback. What is it that’s so profoundly threatening about Reid’s success to the Broders of the world?
Of course, standing firm on a politically popular position doesn’t require all that much leadership talent.
Josh Marshall thinks it is Broder, not Reid, who is in over his head.
People think of Broder as the ‘Dean’ of the Washington press corps because of things he did in the 60s and 70s. But the man he is today is much more a product of the long conservative ascendancy of the last three decades — an ascendancy still very much alive in the town’s journalistic and editorial elite. You can hear the animus more and more sharply in this columns as his inability to grasp the political moment becomes more and more clear.
Broder is “conservative” in the same sense as Cokie Roberts or Kevin Drum: He’s a liberal who believes in civility and thoughtful, honest discussion. It may well be, though, that time has passed him by in an era where those on opposite sides of controversial issues are deemed to be traitors or buffoons. Personally, I’m rooting for the return of Broderism.
Hmmm. (via Steven Taylor)