Friday, January 23, 2009

A Boy Doing a Man's Job?

72 hours into the Obama Administration and two things are already clear:

1) The remaining Congressional Republicans really are the true-believing, kool-aid drinking partisan zealots we thought they were. Their actions in this short legislative week suggest that they would burn the village rather than save it. Holding up cabinet nominees, rattling sabers about legislation that hasn't even arrived yet. These are ugly people who plan to play even uglier.

2) In the Senate, where because of byzantine rules the few can hold up the will of the many, Harry Reid is not up to the task of leading Obama's agenda past Mitch McConnell and the drooling dogs in his party.

I have never been particularly impressed with Reid. He deserves some credit for taking over the Democratic Senatorial leadership at a low-water mark. But since becoming Majority leader in 2007 he has struck me as not having much of a vision, nor the political skills to turn that vision into successful legislation. Even with a majority, Reid couldn't stop most of Bush's agenda, though at that point there was nothing to be gained in cooperating with the president.

Shortly after the November election, I thought I heard a rumor that someone else might run against him for Majority leader. Either that rumor was simply blogosphere vapor, or Democrats decided that a fight over Reid was not worth having. Whatever the case, the future of Obama's agenda now rests in the hands of Harry Reid.

Unless I'm missing something here, this does not fill me with confidence. Obama will have a long honeymoon period with the public and the press I suspect, but it is clear that all his bipartisan gesturing will amount to very little with Congressional Republicans for whom "bipartisanship" is even more anathema than "gay marriage" or "Darwinian evolution."

Which makes it even more urgent that those of us who helped put Obama in the White House now turn our energy to lobbying those Republicans who stand in the way of making this a better country.

Reid is no Lyndon Johnson, who bent the Senate to his will with astonishing effectiveness. But unless he can begin to channel his inner LBJ, this brand new day we all felt on Tuesday may cloud over very quickly.


Schultz said...

I couldn't agree more about Senator Reid. The guy is a wimp and is the exact opposite of image I want the Obama Democrats to portray. The only good thing I can think of is that he did support Obama's candidacy early on, earlier than pretty much every Democratic Senator outside of Dick Durbin.

joel hanes said...

You guys are confused.

Reid gets the outcomes he desires. He and Feinstein are masters of Senate procedure and backstairs dealing.

But they're both _conservatives_.

They're not liberals, nor are they small-d democrats.
They're authoritarians who think that Very Important Serious People Must Not Be Inconvenienced.

Feinstein is the real expert on camoflage, apparently able to appear to her California voters be a liberal, yet quietly colluding in much of the Republican fascism-lite of the last eight years.

Reid seems to bumble, but that's his schtick, his cover, his alibi to liberals for not producing liberal results.
In reality, he gets the outcomes he wants: he _wanted_ telecom immunity, the Military Commissions Act, Roberts and Alito confirmed, and the Protect America Act.

likwidshoe said...

Funny that you say that the Republicans "would burn the village rather than save it" while crying that Harry Reid didn't do more of the same kind of "obstruction" that you're crying about.

It's glaringly hypocritical, Steve.

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