Method to Harry Reid’s Madness

We have chronicled the descent of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into incoherent babbling about Charles and David Koch. Reid thinks he is on to something, even though one observer commented that in his Senate speeches denouncing the Kochs, Reid sounds like a homeless man standing in front of a liquor store in Cleveland in his bathrobe. But at Politico, Kenneth Vogel says that Reid might finally be making “progress.”

At first, it seemed like just another example of Harry Reid being Harry Reid.

The Senate majority leader, whose unscripted attacks can veer into bellicosity and take liberties with facts, spoke on the Senate floor last October and appeared to blame billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch for the government shutdown.

“By shutting down the government,” Reid said, “we’re satisfying the Koch brothers and Ed Meese, but millions of people in America are suffering.” In January, he went further, accusing the Kochs of “actually trying to buy the country.”

His staff affectionately refers to such ad libs as Reid “getting out ahead of his skis,” but the professional left, which had spent years agitating for a high-level Democratic campaign against the Kochs, cheered and urged him on.

After Reid’s ad-libbed comments, his office developed a strategy for a coordinated campaign that’s expected to resume this month and carry clear through Election Day and beyond. It’s been shaped and reinforced by Reid’s staff, including former operatives of the liberal Center for American Progress, which had pioneered Koch-bashing politics years earlier. An eclectic cast of characters was also involved, including Reid’s wife, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a top Democratic pollster, two brothers who wrote a business-management book and various liberal super PACs and nonprofits.

So if Reid is going around the bend, he is taking the rest of the Democratic Party with him. Not everyone is impressed:

Reid’s attacks have drawn cries of McCarthyism from across the political spectrum, including MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and Mother Jones editor Daniel Schulman. And they’ve even created discomfort among liberal big-money donors and operatives, who worry the argument might expose them to charges of hypocrisy, while they also question the effectiveness of running against donors who won’t appear on any ballots.

See, part of what is going on here is that the Democrats benefit from “dark money” contributed by “shadowy billionaires” like Tom Steyer about as much as the Republicans do. And if they get their way, they will benefit a lot more. We will have some news on this subject tomorrow.

For now, though, let’s note how disgustingly low-class the Democrats’ anti-Koch campaign is. However low you thought politics could go, you probably weren’t prepared for Harry Reid:

[I]n the midst of that early strategizing, Senate Democrats huddled for their annual retreat at Nationals Park, where they heard a presentation from business-messaging gurus Chip and Dan Heath, who touched on the effectiveness of identifying foils.

Their breakout book, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” asserts that in order to gain traction for ideas, it’s helpful to replicate some facets of urban legends and conspiracy theories. They encourage readers to make their ideas about people, rather than abstractions and to tap into emotions such as “fear, disgust, suspicion.” …

[A]n operative who has worked with Reid said the presentation “had some impact. In some ways, it affirmed what we were considering with the Kochs.”

That’s great, isn’t it? The Democratic Party rests its case on “urban legends and conspiracy theories.” A homeless man in a bathrobe probably wouldn’t sink that low, but Politico says the Democrats think their strategy is starting to pay dividends.

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