A lot could still happen before this evening’s vote, but let’s at least acknowledge for the moment the hard-ball political tactics Harry Reid is using right now in the Senate. He’s now playing for keeps in a way that a lot of his critics from within Democratic and progressive circles have been urging him to do for the three-plus years he’s been majority leader.
First off, Reid has not backed down (though it’s still possible he could) from tonight’s scheduled vote on financial reform, even though Republicans say they will filibuster and even though negotiations over a bipartisan compromise continue. What Reid is doing is so rare for Democrats that you might not immediately recognize it for what it is: it’s called pressing your political advantage.The other thing Reid did which you may have seen over the weekend is he’s decided to bump immigration reform ahead of energy/climate change in the legislative queue. That had the most immediate effect of causing Sen. Lindsey Graham to throw a hissy fit because he’s been working with Democrats on the energy bill and wants to see that passed — but more accurately he sees Reid as giving priority to immigration reform because that will help Democrats in an election year (including Reid himself, who’s facing a very tough re-election slog in Nevada). Again in case you don’t recognize it coming from a Dem, this is called seizing a political opportunity.
No sooner do I write this than Reid will announce he’s delaying this evening’s vote. But I suspect probably not. Because Reid himself is on the line politically this year. Nothing sharpens the mind and stiffens the spine like a real electoral challenge. Reid has one. That as much as anything may explain why for the past few days, you’ve seen Democrats actually playing hardball.
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