Harry Reid’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader hasn’t just been controversial, it has been disgraceful. Reid submerged the Senate in partisan politics of the most vicious sort, turning the Senate floor into a forum for outrageous attacks on private citizens and refusing to allow that body to vote on more than 300 bills that had passed the House of Representatives–all the while blaming “gridlock” on the Republicans. Reid denied Republican senators the opportunity to offer amendments to legislation and froze them out of the legislative process. The most immediate and happiest consequence as last night’s rout is that Harry Reid is finished as Majority Leader.
But he isn’t going away. Reid has already announced that he will run for the position of Minority Leader, and I assume he will be elected by his caucus. I can’t imagine why: when Reid speaks in the Senate, as one observer put it, he mumbles like a guy in his bathrobe standing outside a liquor store in Cleveland. But for some reason, Senate Democrats rely on Reid to tell them what to do.
Did Reid learn anything from last night’s overwhelming defeat? It doesn’t appear so. “The message from voters is clear: They want us to work together,” Reid said last night. No, Harry, that wasn’t the message.
Meanwhile, it isn’t clear that Reid intends to work with President Obama, let alone Senate Republicans. His chief of staff, David Krone, unloaded on Obama for an article in this morning’s Washington Post, in effect blaming Obama preemptively for the Democrats’ smashing defeat.
As Minority Leader, of course, Reid will have one powerful tool: the filibuster. Despite having gutted minority rights as Majority Leader, he will wield the filibuster to maximum effect, if Mitch McConnell lets him. Devising a strategy to get legislation past a solid bloc of Senate Democrats will be agenda item number one between now and January. Perhaps, now that Reid has opened the door, the Republicans will move further to limit the filibuster. One option to eliminate it from the Senate’s rules altogether, but for a limited period of time, say six months. Republicans could use that window to pass important legislation, much as the Democrats did in 2009 when they briefly had a filibuster-proof majority, and then return the Senate to its normal rules for the rest of the term.
In any event, while we haven’t seen the last of Dingy Harry Reid, it is a wonderful thing that he will no longer disgrace the Senate as Majority Leader–not, at least, until 2017.
UPDATED: Is Harry Reid the least gracious man ever to hold public office? He is certainly a contender. In the midst of last night’s wreckage (from his perspective), Reid found a silver lining:
“The fact that we got our butts kicked up and down the block only makes it *more* hilarious that Scott Brown lost,” Adam Jentleson, Mr. Reid’s spokesman, said in a post at 1:59 a.m.
What a jerk.
MORE: This graphic comes from Caleb Howe of RedState, via Twitter: