Reid's Run of Destruction
Now that Reid finds himself in the minority, he pretends to want to get along.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) broke character after the wave Republican election victory with a conciliatory statement to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will be the new sheriff in town come January. Reid said, “I’d like to congratulate Sen. McConnell, who will be the new Senate majority leader. The message from voters is clear: They want us to work together.” Oh, now let’s get along.
Reid’s plea for comity after his iron-fisted rule is laughable to the point of tears. As for his take on the message voters sent, well, he was going to put whatever spin on it he needed to save face.
The real message from the voters on Tuesday was that Americans are fed up with Democrats’ big-government experiment. After six years of Obama in the White House and eight years of Reid’s mob controlling the Senate, it’s abundantly clear that leftist government doesn’t work. Of course, the cold, hard facts of history have proved this time and again, but people have to learn at their own pace.
Reid’s statement does not in any way indicate we will now see a kinder, gentler man from Nevada. At age 75, this lifetime politician has always had a reputation for being rude and downright miserable. Being humiliated on such a historic scope is unlikely to teach this old dog new tricks.
Since assuming the leadership when Democrats took the Senate in 2006, Reid almost singlehandedly poisoned what was once an august governing body. The Senate was designed by the Founders to be a deliberative chamber, where slow, reasoned debate and special rules and measures would counterbalance the simple majority rule of the House. Senators didn’t lose power simply by being in the minority. Procedure would keep the machinery of republican government humming, but at a reasonable pace to keep the majority party from running roughshod over the country and jamming an unsupported agenda down the nation’s collective throat.
With the full support of Barack Obama, Reid set out to change all that.
Reid’s single biggest destructive act was evoking the so-called nuclear option – eliminating the filibuster from Senate voting procedures for most nominations. Upset at Republicans blocking activist liberal judicial nominees, Reid yanked the filibuster out of the rulebook in November 2013 in order to get Obama’s nominees a series of up-and-down votes. McConnell likened the action to Obama’s famous lie about ObamaCare: “[Reid] might just as well have said, ‘If you like the rules of the Senate, you can keep them.’”
The hypocrisy was astounding, and it wasn’t lost on midterm voters. In 2005, Senate Democrats, then in the minority, brought the chamber to a standstill to block a number of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. When talk of the nuclear option surfaced at the time, then-Sen. Barack Obama said, “The talk of the ‘nuclear option’ is more about power than fairness.” Then-Sen. Joe Biden added, “The nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power.” What a difference being in the majority can have on your view of fairness and power.
It’s unclear if McConnell will restore the filibuster – especially when many Senate Republicans are eager to give Reid a dose of his own medicine. Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), who called Reid a “pathetic majority leader,” wrote, “To restore the [filibuster] rule now, after Mr. Obama has installed his controversial judges, would cement a part of some double standard: when Democrats controlled the White House and Senate, judicial nominations need only 50 votes; but when Republicans control both, judicial nominees require 60 votes, allowing Democratic minorities to block Republican nominations.” Hatch declared that now is no time to “unilaterally disarm.”
Reid has personally insulted Republicans in front of reporters, baselessly accused them of corruption, and buried hundreds of perfectly good bills that came from the House simply because they were Republican bills. His one-man war against the Koch brothers was another sign of just how vindictive Reid can be – to the point of assaulting First Amendment rights.
Reid’s office is confident he will be elected minority leader for the next congressional term. He did receive public support from Senate Democrat leadership and many members, but that was before Tuesday’s pounding. He has fallen in line with many key Democrats in drumming up excuses for their losses – racist Americans, dumb Americans, poor voter turnout (lazy Americans), and so forth. At this point, though, no Democrat senator has come forward and publicly blamed Reid or challenged him for the leadership.
McConnell could put pressure on Dems to get rid of Reid by freezing them out of the committee process or squeezing them in other procedural ways; essentially falling back on tactics that Reid used with impunity. McConnell could lock things up until Dems get their house in order, but that could be a dangerous move. The Republicans won their big victory Tuesday not so much because they had broad public support, but because Democrats had completely squandered their own support. Any moves that smack of Reid-style politics could anger voters further. And there’s a White House to win in 2016.
For now, it looks like Reid might remain with us, but if he has to hold any position of power in the Senate, minority leader sure has a nice ring to it.