The Problem With Harry

It began with a simple headline, “Reid Labels Military Leader Incompetent.” That simple headline, and the article in politico.com, sparked an expected uproar from the right that instantly tagged the Senate Majority Leader with being anti-military.

Personally, I saw the article when it first hit, and kind of ignored it. The source cited by John Bresnahan, someone “close” to the interview, seemed kinda flimsy to me, and the whole thing stunk of something being taken out of context, a favorite gambit employed by wingnut mouthpieces.

So I let the story simmer. When I jumped in, the story was debunked. None of the bloggers that were actually in on the over the phone interview actually remembered Reid disparaging either Pace or Patraeus. All was right with the world.

And then things just got worse.

Following memeorandum throughout the day, I later learned that in fact Reid did issue the remark. So, now I not only have to issue this apology for getting it wrong (kind of a downside to being a blogger. A lot of the time all we got to go on is what we can get our grubby mitts on, and sometimes that’s not good enough), but I also have to rethink my approach towards Reid.

Now I’m a team player. I’m personally way more liberal than a lot of Democrats most the time, but I play the game because I honestly believe that’s how you get stuff done. I could go and join a hard core liberal activist community, but that will never be as effective as playing politics and learning to accept slow progress. That’s my deal. So I back Democrats a lot of the time even when they aren’t moving fast enough.

Remember team player.

So it’s kind of hard for me to support Harry Reid any longer as the Senate Majority Leader. Yeah, congress’ approval really blows right now, and I still stand my assertion that they have done what they could given the hand they were dealt, but Harry’s leadership troubles me for two reasons.

The first is solely to do with this incident alone. Yeah, I’m not happy with Harry’s little interview undermining my own credibility, but I am not so ego-centric to think that my credibility is vital to the nation as a whole. I’m a blogger… big deal. But it really did leave a lot of his supporters hanging in the lurch. There are tons of liberal bloggers out there, and following the politico’s headline and Greg Sargent’s rebuttal, a lot of us went to his defense.

He put out no comment, he did nothing to either correct us or back us or nothing. Again, probably a small point, but the bigger point was that if he was going to show the cojones to say something like that, look, I got no qualms. You want to back up your beef, and call a couple generals incompetent, go for it. If you got a strong argument that I agree with, I’ll be right here tootin’ my horn in support.

But that’s not what happened. He said it, and from what I see, kind of hoped that the liberal blogosphere would fend off the attacks in his stead, and when things got to the point where he was essentially cornered, he fessed up, but then just said the issue should die.

Not exactly leadership stuff there.

On a totally different scale, I’m using the Reid Feingold proposal as a metric. The bill, intended to act as a rebuttal to Bush’s initial veto to Iraqi War Appropriations with timeline restrictions, would have cut funding for the Iraqi war, and redeployed troops NOW. And what really bothers me is that it went down not by a slim majority due to being blocked by Senate Republicans. That’s something I would expect.

What bothered me was that we didn’t even come close. We’re talking about a 60 30 split here. While I fully understand how tied the Democrats’ hands were for Iraq War voting, it is Reid’s job to get his caucus pumping on all cyllinders, and he utterly FAILED in that regard, and it ultimately makes the case for an obstructionist Republican party that much harder to build.

From a different light, understand that Republicans have grown adept at reaping benefits from legislation they don’t have to suffer consequences from (trying to pass a constituional ban on gay marriage for instance). It’s an effective tactic, and one that Reid did not even have a prayer at harnessing for the good of his own party.

So he has liberal bloggers fighting his battles on his behalf by proxy, and he can’t even whip his own caucus into submission. Where the hell is the proof that this guy belongs as the Majority Leader? It’s simple enough that we don’t want a 19%er heading up the party, but tack on the utter lack of leadership skills he’s shown recently, and I think you have the case for a new majority leader.

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