Can Harry Reid do anything right?

The new Congress is only two days old, but the majority leader's having a tough time already.


Alex Koppelman
January 8, 2009 3:15AM (UTC)

It's been a rough month for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He's been repeatedly embarrassed by the fracas surrounding the appointment of Roland Burris to President-elect Barack Obama's old Senate seat -- and by his apparent capitulation on the issue. Details of his conversations with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment were leaked to the press. And he had to watch two prominent members of his caucus come out in opposition to Obama's choice to head the CIA. Now, in a series of interviews, he's said a few things he might eventually want to take back.

Speaking to The Hill, Reid said Democrats have to be "very, very careful" not to overreach in this new Congress, explaining that this year will be different from 1993 -- the last time Democrats controlled both the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. The paper reports, "Back then, Reid said, Democrats had controlled the House for decades and behaved as though the opposition did not exist. This time around, their recent stint in the minority would give them a commitment to bipartisanship."

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That sort of comment isn't the kind of thing likely to endear him to a Democratic base that's already less-than-enthusiastic about his performance as majority leader. That's especially true because 2009 is also different from 1993 in that there are more Democratic senators now than there were then, there's now a Democratic president who won election with a majority -- rather than a plurality -- of the vote and Republican positions and politicians are wildly unpopular at the moment.

Separately, in an interview with Politico, Reid weighed in on the legal woes of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to say he doesn't think Stevens, who was recently convicted on federal corruption charges, should have to serve time in prison. ""My personal feeling, you guys, I don't know what good that [would do]... He was a real war hero too, you know. He's been punished enough," Reid said, adding that he felt Stevens' problem was that he hadn't adapted to new Congressional rules requiring members to disclose gifts they received: "It's a different world we live in, and Stevens did not understand that."


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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