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What about this guy, Harry Reid? Update. II

"Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid defined the terms of his relationship with the newly elected president when he announced in early January: "I do not work for Barack Obama. I work with him."

"Like many of Reid's pronouncements, the statement did not come out quite right. It suggested a degree of bravado that the Nevada Democrat does not possess, and diminished the bond that developed between Reid and Obama during their four years together in the Senate. Yet it was vintage Reid, awkward but pointed, reminding an ambitious president of his boundaries while establishing Reid as a singular force and perhaps Obama's most important ally outside the administration."

Does Reid know what he's doing? I wonder.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/06/AR2009030603526.html?hpid=topnews

Here's one, but not wholly convincing, explanation for Reid's hanging back:

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-reid7-2009mar07,0,7030447.story?track=rss

"Historyman" posts a relevant link on comments:

The Senate stalled on the omnibus Thursday night when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) came up short of the 60 votes he needed to move the bill forward.

That led to an ugly late-night, closed-door meeting between Reid, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) aides in the hall heard yelling and swearing and it has fanned House Democrats anger over Reids inability to move bills without granting major concessions to marginal members of both parties.

Here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19771.html

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Commenting Guidelines

"He wont go for cloture on the spending bill."Perhaps he did not think he could get it."He doesnt have the Dems lined up."Perhaps some of them are resistant"The story cited refers to him as a dealmaker, but never comes up with any example."How else could he have got to be where he is? "He was an enabler for the Bush Administration"Your turn to cite examples."now he declares his independence from a Democratic Administration."Really. Is it his job simply to say "yes sir, Mr. Prssident"? You misstate his position."Does he have his head on straight? Does he know what hes doing.Those are my questions."Nothing you say, in my opinion, suggests that he may not know what he is doing. Could it be that you simply don't like what he is doing? Or don't agree with his personal agenda? By the way I hold no brief for Harry Reid. I would say he muffed the Burris business. But a live vote is better than a special election with weeks of vacancy. Or so he might think.

Obama is popular, campaign is over.. no need for more cheerleading. Senate should remain an 'independent' branch and not be an Obama rubber stamp.Dems need hardheaded competence to get us out of this economic spiral.All present economic initiatives are guesses. I suggest suspend mark to market for 6 months to end bank spiral. I suspect short sellers are making things a lot worse and now 4.5 million and growing are out of work..

Reid is asserting a power that he technically has by virtue of the constitution but politically he doesnt have by virtue of the sensus communis. The US political system is, functionally, more or less a parliamentary one which makes Obama the leader of the party. There is an expectation among the electorate that his agenda be passed in congress and senators and congressmans function, in the publics mind, as members of Obamas party. Reids job is to get the Dems in the senate to tow the party line. Pelosis is to get the Dems in the house to tow the party line. The party line comes from the oval office. It hasnt worked that smoothly so far. Raul Emmanuels job is to deliver that message loud and clear to the congressional leadership.Reid is out of tune and it is bad form for him to be talking like that.

Harry Reid always kind of steps in it when he speaks off the cuff. But even as a conservative, I forgive him his errors. There was a very good biographical article about him in the latest National Review. He had a pretty tough life growing up. One of the things that was pretty enlightening in the article was that before he became the majority leader, HR was considered a fairly moderate Dem. When he did move further left, at least rhetorically, in opposition to Bush, it was something of a surprise. Maybe he is moving back towards the center now, especially since he is going to face reelection, and his seat is not a sure thing. He doesn't want to get Daschle'd.

I may be missing some subtlety here, but It seems to me that Reid knows exactly what he is doing. What makes you wonder?

He won't go for cloture on the spending bill.He doesn't have the Dems lined up.The story cited refers to him as a dealmaker, but never comes up with any example.He was an enabler for the Bush Administration, and now he declares his independence from a Democratic Administration.Does he have his head on straight? Does he know what he's doing.Those are my questions.I'd be happy to have answers that quiet my doubts!

I don't disagree with Harry Reid. But given the window of opportunity to get something done, he is wasting time. The rule for 60 votes is a rule that could be changed by making the Republicans carry on a filibuster. Why do I think Mitch McConnell is not up to that. Our system of checks and balances is great, but it hasn't worked for 8 years; why are the disfunctions of those years still ruling the Senate?Harry Reid may be a wonderful person, who pulled himself out of a difficult childhood. He strikes me as an inadequte majority leader. Again, I could be convinced otherwise.

Top story on Politico.com currently... The HR-White House dynamics seems less important - at least in this instance - than dynamics among Reid, Pelosi, and Republicans. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19771.htmlIn the end, Pelosi withdrew the proposal after Reid assured her Senate Democrats had enough votes to reject a series of GOP amendments Monday. If that deal holds and its always possible it wont it would be a victory for Pelosi, who wanted the House bill approved without changes. For his part, Reid dismissed the idea of a rift, saying his miscalculation has less to do with his grip on Democrats than it does with the traditional role of the upper chamber...The five-day stall also allowed Republicans to keep the issue alive through the weekend giving them a free shot at Democrats on the Sunday talk shows. Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took it, using an appearance on CNNs State of the Union Sunday to say that the earmarks in the omnibus are proof that Obama is breaking his campaign promises. Yet so far these small-bore wins arent translating to greater popularity for the GOP. A Daily Kos/Research 2000 weekly tracking poll has Americans evenly split on how congressional Democrats are doing 46 percent have a favorable view, 45 percent have an unfavorable view. Only 17 percent had a favorable view of congressional Republicans, while 68 percent said they did not.

Senator Majority leader Harry Reid maintaining that paying income tax in America is Voluntary. Interviewer Jan Helfeld does a great job of trying to nail him down but... well, you'll see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7mRSI8yWwgWhen confronted by claims that income taxes are voluntary, courts readily explain that the payment of income tax is mandatory, not optional:Steven M. Beresford v. IRS, 86 AFTR2d 2000-5200,: The federal income tax is NOT voluntary, and a person may not elect to opt out of the federal tax laws by a unilateral act of revocation and recission. Also see United States v. Gerads, 999 F.2d 1255 (8th Cir. 1993), cert. den. 510 U.S. 1193 (1994).

Who's next up for majority leader? Dick Durbin?

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.