Obstructionist Reid Angered at Obstructionist Label

Reid Calls on Bush to Repudiate Attack on Him (Reuters)

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid hit back at the Republican Party on Monday for targeting him with an attack campaign reminiscent of one used to help oust Reid’s predecessor, Tom Daschle. Standing in the Republican-led Senate, Reid called on President Bush personally to repudiate and pull “a hit piece” against him by the president’s Republican National Committee. “What they want to do is just like (what) they did to Daschle,” Reid said.

Republicans last year effectively branded Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, as a “chief obstructionist” to Bush’s agenda on Capitol Hill and got his longtime constituents to vote him out of office. Daschle served in the Senate for 18 years, his last 10 as leader. Reid, of Nevada, noted Bush has called for bipartisanship and said the president telephoned him after last year’s election and said he wanted to “get along.” “Is President Bush a man of his word (or) is what he is telling the American people just a charade?” Reid asked. At the White House, spokesman Trent Duffy said, “The president looks forward to working with Senator Reid on addressing our country’s challenges.”

An RNC spokeswoman said a “research document” about Reid that the Senate Democrat had denounced would be distributed to about a million people, including donors, party activists and reporters. “It introduces the public to the real Harry Reid,” said spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. “He can try to paint himself as a centrist, but his votes to block tax reform and tort reform and his opposition to strengthen Social Security prove otherwise.” “We intend to make clear that Reid is an obstructionist who is out of the mainstream and we will hold him accountable as the Senate leader of the party of ‘no,”‘ Schmitt said. Reid was elected Senate minority leader by fellow Democrats after Daschle became the first Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.

That Reid is an obstructionist would seem beyond dispute. He’s the leader of the opposition party in the Senate, so there’s a sense in which Chief Obstructionist is his job title. But even beyond that, even though Bush has just been inaugurated to a second term and a new Congress, in which Democrats remain the minority party, has just started session, Reid and his comrades have decided that there will be no honeymoon period and no spirit of bipartisan cooperation.

In their “response” to Bush’s State of the Union last week, Reid and his counterpart Nancy Pelosi made it clear they have decided upon a strategy of opposing Bush’s agenda per se rather than offering an alternative set of policy proposals. They’re going to pretend that the election never happened and that the American people didn’t just vote for the agenda Bush campaigned on for two years and repudiate the message Kerry and the Democrats offered. That’s their right. It may even turn out to be successful, especially with respect to Social Security. But the Republicans have every right to fight back as well.

Calling an obstructionist “an obstuctionist” strikes me as merely the first jab. If Reid is going to start crying already, he should throw in the towel now.

Update (2-8): LAT has a version of the story now.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    So, if I think Social Security is in reasonably good shape, and the president wants to dismantle it, I can’t just say “that’s a really bad idea, and I oppose that”? I have to have an “alternative policy proposal”?

    What if my alternative proposal is “don’t do it”?

    I think we need to preserve some meaning for the word “obstructionist” beyond a mere synonym for “opponent.”

  2. James Joyner says:

    Well, we’ve just run an election, in which Social Security privatization was repeatedly emphasized by the winning candidate. Further, a majority of that person’s party presides over both Houses.

    So, yes, simply standing there and repeating the slogans that failed in the campaign and working to thwart the plan of the majority without an alternate plan is obstructionist.

  3. bryan says:

    So, if I think Social Security is in reasonably good shape, and the president wants to dismantle it,

    Yes, that would be obstructionist, especially if you continue to use hackneyed talking point phrases like “the president wants to dismantle it.”

  4. Hal says:

    Wow, just like they repeatedly emphasized WMDs. Cool!

    So, you saying that there are no democratic plans out there? Or are you saying that because Reid doesn’t mention them, he’s obstructionist?

    And are you deducing SS is in a crisis purely because of Bush’s victory and thus someone has to come up with a means to solve the crisis?

    Clever, certainly. But clearly circular.

  5. Just Me says:

    Um, if you are a member of congress, and you are opposed to the presidents plan, and you want to have credibility beyond the label of “obstructionist” then yes, you need to come up with an alternative plan, or series of ideas beyond “the president is a liar, and social security is not a mess” only a fool would believe that social security will remain solvent, if continued under its current rules.

    As for Reid being obstructionist, if the shoe fits . . .

  6. Toni says:

    When many of your own party members including your former party member – President Clinton- says that SS is in dire shape and you as the party leader object to any proposals laid out by the current President without any solutions then yes that is being an obstructionist. The Democrats can get by doing this for only so long without losing credibility and it’s been 4 yrs of obstructionism.

  7. Lt Bell says:

    Sure, anyone who disagrees with the Godlike Bush and the Christian Agenda must be an obstructionist.
    There are also plenty of proposals out there to help make Social Scty solvent, the easiest would be to have the wealthy make Social Scty payments on all of their income. You Know! Just like the rest of us have to.
    Bush wants to push the poor , the disabled, the wounded Veterans into his new “Faith – Based” welfare system. The one he spent 12 Billion Dollars on last year. Now where did he find 12 Billion dollars for churchs (did he buy the vote of the religious right), and is that enough to save social scty?

  8. Hal says:

    Geez Louis. You people need to take a reading course or just – y’know – start paying attention. There’s plenty of alternative plans out there. Let’s just take Ted Kennedy’s that he laid out on Meet the Press – i.e. Let’s roll back 1/3 of the tax cuts to the super rich and we won’t have any SS problem what so ever.

    See, it’s only a crisis if you make it so. And seeing as how it oh so much more important to give away money to people who have incomes of over $1million a year than actually – y’know – save SS, it seem to me that it’s your sorry republican asses who have SS in a sling and you want to throw it out the window.

    No alternatives? Only if you don’t actually listen and run around like chicken little claiming the sky is falling.

  9. Bithead says:

    Look, gang, let’s call this one out, OK?
    The Democrats have for eight deacdes wailed and moaned about being called ‘tax and spend liberals’, about constantly having their politics compared to that of Marx, and so on.

    Being corectly labeled, it would appear, is the worst thing that can happen to a leftist. Wo why would Reid’s complaints be anything new?

  10. notherbob2 says:

    Ted Kennedy’s suggestion is: “You have a problem? Elect me and those like me and we will raise taxes and that will solve it. And your problem, sir? OK, more taxes for that. A tax for every problem.” Hal and the other tax and spend folks never met a tax they don’t like.

  11. Anderson says:

    Toni: What about when you’re president and “many of your own party members” say your alleged Social Security crisis is nonexistent and your “plan” is a nonstarter? What word do we use for that?

    More generally, fellow commenters, if the President says “let’s blow up the Moon!” and my only alternative “plan” is “hey, let’s NOT blow up the Moon,” then apparently I am an “obstructionist”?

    That word … I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  12. student says:

    dems as the tax and spend folks? are you aware the clinton not only balanced the budget, but had a SURPLUS going on…and bush not only blew that to hell, but has no legit way to solve it, nor does he show he cares.

    and as a recommendation to those who think ‘liberals’are ranting loons, read history….from the beginning, look at the cycles of power and realize their causes. as well, look into the methods power is achieved in the modern days….really, for the good of humanity, open your eyes into that which you are not already blindly supporting

  13. mark says:

    Hals problem like most liberals is that they just can’t stand to see people get more individual:
    + Freedom
    + Control
    + Power

    The liberals real problem with partial privatization of SS is that the people get more control so the government gets less. They will argue all over the board from it’s not broken to Uncle Ted’s idea of simply raising taxes. Trust me. It’s all about control.

    Remember how all the libs looked when they felt they had to say something nice about the Iraqi elections. They looked like they had just tasted shit! It was good for a couple of chuckles. The point of course was wholes masses of people were attaining democracy and control. A horrifying idea to any lib.


    W…….still the PRESIDENT

  14. Rep. Raul Ryan (R, WI) has some further experience with obstructionism on SS reform by the Democratic leadership.