Djcnor’s Weblog

Obama’s Choices #6 Harry Reid

Posted on: January 4, 2009

OK. This one isn’t literally Obama’s choice. Presumably, the Senate Majority Leader is the choice of the Senate Democrats. Presumably, they want Obama’s Presidency to go well, aside, of course, for a few who might let their own ambitions to be President outweigh their support of Obama. Aside, of course, from those times when their own interest in maintaining their Senate seats outweighs their supporting what Obama wants done. You can bet they are well aware of what Harry Reid’s job will be.

To state it delicately, the job of the Senate Majority Leader is to serve as a chief spokesman for his party. He will also manage and schedule the consideration of legislation and other Senate business. As a matter of privilege, he get priority of recognition to speak. All velly velly civilized. Righty on.

More roughly, his job is to be a bully when those two “asides” in the first paragraph occur and votes are needed badly. Since Obama may not need as many votes as there are “asides” he also, you might say, gives out “immunities”, choosing which Senators will be threatened with withdrawal of various forms of campaign support that may or may not be given by the national party should they not vote the “right” way, and which will be allowed to vote according to their ambitions because their votes aren’t absolutely necessary. It’s a position with power, but pretty much guaranteed to earn you some enemies and to not build your fan base. Therefore, it’s someone who has been around a long time, someone who knows what it’s like to have those “asides” to deal with, someone who has perhaps built up enough owed favors to be able to legitimately ask for some back. It also often goes to someone who has already been Senate Minority Leader when the party of the Presidency changes hands.

Harry Reid has been the Senate Minority Leader since 2005. He’ll be the first Mormon Senate Majority Leader, and claims that it’s easier to be a Mormon and Democrat than to be a Mormon and Republican. I’ll admit, I’m not very knowledgeable about what that might mean in terms of his new job, and I’m not one of those bloggers who spends a whole lot of time on research. They’d have to pay me first, and I just spent most of yesterday andtoday on a paid writing assignment and still have to prepare to tutor tomorrow, so I don’t have a lot of energy to invest in this effort.

Reid started in Congress in 1982. Some of his positions I agree with. Others I disagree with. He would restrict abortion severely, but voted to provide funding for other options that might help women avoid abortion and has nothing against providing birth control help in foreign aid programs. He has been outspoken in his opinions of the Bush’s and the various Supreme Court members he has had the opportunity to vote on. He supported the original Patriot Act but did not support later versions. He supports the death penalty (I’m agin it!) He supports renewable energy. He supported the ethic bill. He was for the Brady Bill, but against letting gun manufacturers be sued for the damage their products cause. He wants immigration reform, but also wants all immigrants, even illegals to be able to get a higher education so they can contribute as best they can to US society. I’m not sure what reforms he wants, but I agree with the last. He apparently thinks the Iraq war can be won. I don’t think anyone wins any way. He supports stem cell research.

Considering how long he has been around, this list could go on and on and on. I won’t. I doubt that he would have been chosen had it been very obvious that he would put his own positions above his duties as the Senate Majority Leader.

Considering that he had been Minority Leader, it would have taken some major eatth-moving to hand the Majority Leadership to anyone else. He was criticized for a soft approach to Republican filibusters. A harder approach may be required in order for Obama to really get things done. I hope he’s up to that.

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