The Daschle-ization of Harry Reid

By September 22, 2005Judicial Nominations

Harry Reid walked out of the Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday, strode immediately to the Senate floor and announced his opposition to Judge Roberts’ nomination. Given the context, this was no doubt expected to be a bold “Who’s with me?!?” clarion call, to be followed by the rest of his Caucus. However, Plan A was somehow foiled. While he was joined in a drip, drip, drip by his other, predictable, fellow pander bears Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Corzine and Lautenberg, the shocker came Wednesday when the leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, endorsed Roberts. Did he not get the memo? And so, tongues around town are wagging: Might Reid be challenged for Leader by Senator Chris Dodd or others? Why can’t he hold his Caucus?

Tom Daschle — Reid’s predecessor — got himself in trouble by drifting too far from his South Dakota roots and buying wholesale into his party’s agenda in Washington. This is a lesson not lost on his South Dakota colleague Tim Johnson, who today also endorsed Roberts. Reid, too, is from a state far more conservative than his party’s core. He has two problems: How is he going to keep his constituents happy, and thereby guarantee his re-election (although he has five more years to worry about that) and if he does, how on earth can he keep his Caucus in line? The fissures from that Hobsons’ choice are on display this week. No doubt his constituents aren’t very happy with his decision not to support Judge Roberts. Yet, having gone out on the limb, he can’t hold his own Caucus, beginning with the man who honchoed the hearings. Not very Leader-like, is it?

To make matters worse, Reid was lambasted in the Washington Post’s lead editorial on Wednesday. In a piece entitled, “Words That Will Haunt” (Trivia question: How many times has the Post attacked a Senate Democratic Leader?), the Post notes his “remarkable” statement of yesterday as part of his rambling statement of opposition to Roberts. He said, “The President is not entitled to very much deference in staffing …the judiciary.” As the Post says (correctly — did we just say that?), “These are dangerous words that Democrats will come to regret,” adding, “The President’s choice has a heavy presumption of confirmation.” Amen.

So Tuesday, Harry Reid launched into the breach. Behind him is only the smallest band of the far left of his party. The liberal Chair of the Committee of jurisdiction has publicly parted company with him. And one of the most liberal newspapers in the country have called him out. Are we witnessing the Daschle-ization of Harry Reid? We are reminded of George Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who ignore history,” he said, “Are doomed to repeat it.”