I've written in the past how the Republicans and Democrats pick their leaders in the Senate for diametrically opposed reasons: the GOP wants an authoritarian taskmaster who gets Senators to vote with the party position; and the Dems pick a leader (in this case, Harry Reid)who will let then run around like cats in heat, voting any which way they want.
Part of this has to do with one of the most basic differences between Republicans and Democrats: the GOP respects hierarchy and following the leader (think military mindset), and the Democrats love to be off leash and independent.
So when the Dems look for a Majority or Minority Senate Leader, they look to someone who isn't going to lean on them too heavily, and that's how we got Harry Reid -- who seems to have a new opinion and prediction every day -- as Majority Leader for the Dems. Before him was the equally feckless Tom Daschle, who always would tell the press that he never knew if had the votes for any legislation because "his" Senators vote the way they see it.
One of the key similarities between Reid and Daschle -- which I've noted before -- is that they are both from red states (although Nevada is trending blue because of urbanization, particularly around Las Vegas), which means that, ironically, the Dems and the Republicans both have leaders in the Senate from red states.
Remember Trent Lott as the GOP Senate Leader?Uh, was he from a blue state? Of course not. Are you getting the picture?
The comparable Democraticleader to Trent Lott would be Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin, perhaps. They are both from blue states and Durbin, in particular, leans to the progressive wing of the Party.
But the Dems in the Senate elect someone who will let them go their own merryway, for the most part, on votes, and from red states, because that means leaders such as Reid and Daschle are always looking over their shoulders on how their positions will play in a red state. This is not good for passing bold Democratic legislation.
Daschle, of course, lost re-election while he was the Democratic leader to John Thune. The Republicans did their usual attack dog number on Daschle, so it really didn't matter that he tended to try to be the mythical "centrist," not to mention the water he carried for a lot of "K" Street lobbyists, including his wife.
Harry Reid, by all accounts, is a nice, comparatively incorruptible guy. As far as Senators go, he's relatively modest and down to earth.
But one thing he ain't is a party line enforcer.
And that's just the way the Democratic Senators want it, to the detriment of the future of America.
Don't believe any rumors about Reid promising to sink the Stupak Amendment or including astronger Public Option in the joint reconciliation bill with the House.
Harry swings like the wind, buffeted by forces from all sides that he has no inherent ability to keep in line.
It's like having a chef who lets the cooks put whatever they want in a recipe and doesn't discipline them to follow the recipe.
Harry just wants the friendship and admiration of his colleagues; but if they don't fear him a little, nothing bold gets done.
And we've seen that over and over again.