Anger from the left continues to mount against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and many are accusing him of Benedict-ing away from the party he leads. And there’s a lot of truth to that.
But to quote Oscar Wilde: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple,” and when discussing the horse-trading and pork-barreling within the world of Congressional husbandry, nothing could be truer.
“We have stood together in so many battles over the years,” Reid said about his friend and NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre.
“Wayne and I also stood together to defeat the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. I voted against the ban when it was first proposed, I voted against it when folks tried to renew it, and I will continue to oppose it.
“As you can imagine, my Democratic colleagues are not always thrilled with my votes on gun issues, but I tell them this: Guns are not a political issue for me.”
The senator’s comments barely registered a blip on the radar when Reid hosted the grand opening celebration for a shooting range in Nevada over two years ago. And while there’s certainly nothing dodgy about the family-friendly park, the coziness of Reid and LaPierre chafes at many in the majority leader’s corner.
Guns may not be a political issue for Reid, but following the cinema shooting in Aurora and the massacre in Sandy Hook, along with LaPierre’s obtuse won’t-budge-stance, gun control is now more political than it has ever been.
With the Assault Weapons Ban again in the headlines, and considering Reid’s voting record against gun control laws, he is wont to sidle up to the NRA as he has in the past. But it’s not that simple for the third most powerful elected official in the Democratic Party — he can no longer afford another maverick-y maneuver.
Although Reid went back on his word to curtail filibustering, you wouldn’t know it to hear him talk about it. In a press statement on his website the senator glossed over the issue so thoroughly that it would appear to an ill-informed reader that the senator actually ended the parliamentary procedure. But he didn’t.
To be fair, Reid, along with his Republican counterpart Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, passed rules, which to their credit will essentially improve the moving along of uncontroversial Senate proposals and appointees. However, the most obstructionist tool in the Congressional woodshed — filibustering — remains as sharp as ever.
It’s a sword that cuts both ways. Reid, in an effort to shore up his troops for the next battle has also tweaked the rules to slip in Obama’s appointments easier, a cunning move sans doute, however, his other strategies are backfiring as his allies are falling by the wayside.
Insiders claim that Reid got everything he wanted. But was it a strategic move on his part, or merely a yellow-dogged connivance? Yes.
Legislators plot for months and even years in advance using parliamentary sleight-of-hand parlor tricks and scheming. Yet tossing around Congressional trump cards solely to toe party lines and obstruct the law is simply wrong — no matter who’s doing it.
- Why He Did It — Congress is currently wallowing in its lowest approval rating in history and in 2014, thirteen Republicans and twenty Democrats will be defending their Senate seats. The possibility that the G.O.P. could nip away at the Democrats’ fifty-three-seat majority is very real. And with that future scenario in place, Reid and his compatriots would be wishing for the super majority if they found themselves in the minority again. Yet at the rate he’s going now, would the senator even be able to segue to minority leader? That is unlikely.
With the Assault Weapons Ban on the horizon, the only way to regain support from those whom he’s lost is to go against his previous record on the 1994 bill and vote for it. But that could jeopardize his reelection in 2016 — Reid doesn’t necessarily need the NRA’s endorsement but having the organization endorse his opponent could prove fatal. That was precisely the case in his recent neck-and-neck 2010 reelection campaign, and it’s a testament to his friendship with Wayne LaPierre — while Reid did not receive an endorsement from the powerful gun lobby, the organization did not endorse his Republican opponent Sharron Angle. That, in essence, was a coup.
After a mostly stellar fifty-year career, Reid may finally have created a mess he can’t clean up. If he locks arms with Senator Feinstein on gun control, the NRA will support his next opponent and his chances for reelection will be dismal. And if he doesn’t doe-si-doe with the Democrats on gun control, the party will be over for Reid.