Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Power Plays of Harry Reid

As he enters his second term as Senate Majority Leader - this time with more fellow Democrats in the chamber and another in the White House - Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has taken it upon himself to demonstrate his power this week over two seats: one from Illinois and the other from Minnesota.

Although Roland Burris went to Washington to fulfill his appointment from Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), Reid and the Senate Democrats refused to confirm him yesterday officially because he did not have the Illinois Secretary of State signature due to allegations that Blagojevich was planning to sell the President-Elect's former seat.

"Mr. Burris is not in possession of the necessary credentials from the state of Illinois," Reid told the press.

And while legal issues still linger over the hotly contested Senate seat in Minnesota, Reid decided to accept the state's initial ruling that former comedian Al Franken would be the next Senator from the Land of a Thousand Lakes.

In a very striking comment, Reid told reporters that Coleman would "never ever" return to the Senate.

But the icing on the cake of his new-found confidence was that he declared he would serve as Majority Leader until at least 2015.

Yet his confidence does not seem to make him more effective at holding the Democrats together. Not only has Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with the decision to block Burris, but now Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has strayed from the party line saying "despite the controversy, we can't go down the road of having essentially a few subjective considerations to decide who gets seated. That would be an affront to states and their laws."

Furthermore, rumors of backdoor deals to seat Burris have come to light, and many media outlets are now reporting that Burris will in fact take the role of Senator.

While it is important for the dominant party to have a strong leader, Reid is skating on a thin ice of power before falling into the chilly waters of arrogance. Not only will this make his fellow Democrats weary of his position, but it will demonstrate crude partisanship to independents and moderates, and infuriate the GOP.

In fact, the notion that Republicans may try to make Reid a vulnerable incumbent in his 2010 re-election race was a topic of yesterday's press conference.

"You know, to be honest with you, I hope I am," he said. "That way, [the Republicans are] going to spend lots of resources on me and leave states we're looking at. They won't have as many resources — and we have a lot of targets."

We would advise the Majority Leader to "be careful what you wish for."

No comments: