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OK, Harry Reid won, but is he the leader we need?

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First the good news. Harry Reid was reelected to the US Senate representing Nevada. Next, the not so good news. Harry Reid is likely to remain the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate.

There are many reasons why much of the legislation adopted by the Democrats in the House under Nancy Pelosi's leadership died a quiet death in the Senate. The inability of Reid to peel off even one or two members from the Republican minority was a major road block. On a couple of votes Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins defected, but those instances were rare indeed. The battle over health care took an eternity and literally became the summer from hell in 2009 when Reid turned the process over to Senator Max Bacus. As one of the heath care industry's favorite Democrats, Baucus wasted a year chasing an Olympia Snow vote that never materialized. In hindsight the lost time was a devastating setback.

It was quite obvious early on that Reid, President Obama, even Pelosi, were making legislative promises they knew they couldn't keep. Perhaps the plan was to fail and campaign by blaming the failure on the Republicans. If that was the plan, it never made the Republicans expose their obstructionist tactics in prime time.

The best example of this is Reid's willingness to fold at the mere threat of a GOP filibuster. It would have been far more effective if Reid had actually told Mitch McConnell, "OK Mitch, we'll clear the elevators while your folks bring in the cots and blankets; I guess we're going to be doing a lot of overnights." In other words call their bluff. Make them actually stand up and talk endlessly in an effort to defend their strategy to bring everything to a screeching halt. It would have given the American public a chance to see these stiffs in action. The public would have seen the Democrats on the right side of numerous issues.

Unfortunately, McConnell knew he could just threaten to filibuster a bill and Harry would fold. How many times did we hear, "We don't have 60 votes"? Some leadership. Instead of forcing the Republicans to carry out their threat, Reid let them off the hook while creating no real avenue for his side to gain points with the public. Or to pass good legislation.

I often think Democratic party leaders refuse to fight because they fear defeat in any form. On the other hand, some of the Democrats of the blue-dog ilk clearly were not supporting parts of the progressive agenda. But, to force a filibuster doesn't require a vote from Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman. It requires a Speaker to "man-up" and fight the good fight for his principles.

Harry only got around to really fighting when his job was threatened. We and he need to do better in the next Congress. We need a leader who'll fight for the rest of us the way he fought to keep his own job. At least that fight kept a nut job like Sharon Angle out of the Senate. Fighting fights over issues might have made her a non-issue a lot sooner.


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Dedicated and proud liberal, political news junkie. Formerly active in local politics in New Jersey and at one point employed as Aide To The Mayor of a central NJ community of 50,000. Currently writing a manual about Opposition Research for use (more...)
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