If Only

4 comments December 19th, 2007at 06:00pm Posted by Eli

Well, here’s an intriguing notion:

As the political season reaches its Iowa caucus climax, momentum is building for Sen. Chris Dodd to parlay his presidential campaign into a bid to challenge Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, for Majority Leader.

Almost all of the support for this effort now comes from the netroots, much of which favors such a move. But talk of Dodd making a run at the post has slowly crept into the corners of Capitol Hill as well. And in light of the Connecticut Democrat’s successful filibuster threat this week over granting immunity to telecommunications firms that conducted warrantless surveillance, some in the progressive community see the framework for a potential shakeup.

“Dodd is an effective legislator, he is practiced and experienced and is articulate,” said Joan Claybrook, president of the nonprofit group, Public Citizen. “He also knows how to make the process work. I think Harry Reid has an entirely different style and likes to work things out behind the scenes. He’s had to be a negotiator and people don’t like that sometimes. They want to see someone take a stand and win, but that is hard in this Congress and with these issues.”


“I like Harry Reid enough, but it’s clear that we live in a climate in which the type of leadership we need is better provided by Chris Dodd,” Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos told the Huffington Post. “Republicans have been laughing at us all term, refusing to compromise because they know the inevitable capitulation on any given issue is always just a couple of days away. Those Republicans need to be re-taught how to negotiate, and step one is to have a Democratic caucus that will tighten the screws when necessary. Yesterday, that person wasn’t our leader, it was Chris Dodd.”

Similar sentiment has been exhibited at other prominent progressive blogs like FireDogLake.

Still, a major obstacle for a Majority Leader Dodd remains: Senate Democrats are, by and large, happy with the work of Reid. Many note the difficulties in working with a one-vote majority and say he has done the best with the hand he was dealt. In the wake of an April 2007 Washington Post column that was highly critical of Reid’s leadership on Iraq, every single member of the Senate Democratic Caucus signed a letter to the paper, challenging its assertions.

“If it were to happen, the pressure would have to come from the outside,” said an aide to a prominent senator, not from Dodd’s office. “I haven’t heard of anyone being upset with Reid. There has been, in fact, an awful lot of support.”

Those two quotes I bolded are the nub of the problem: Reid is providing the kind of leadership that the Senate Democrats want – that is to say, as little as possible. When a majority of Senate Democrats wants to take a stand, and not fold every time the Republicans hold their breath and stamp their feet, that’s when they’ll elect Dodd (or someone a lot like him) as their Majority Leader. But for now, it looks like going-along-to-get-along suits most of them just fine.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Dodd,Politics


  • 1. shoephone  |  December 19th, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Despite the tra-la-la glossing over of Reid by those anonymous sources, let’s look at the obvious: Reid is not seen as a leader by Democratic citizens/voters/activists. Most importantly, the House has been able to pass some good legislation, including its own no-immunity-for-telecoms-FISA bill. How do you think the House Dems will feel if Reid craps all over their bill and ultimately works out a “compromise” (gives telecoms a free ride) with Senate Republicans? The exact same way they feel about some of the other bills he has not supported the them on, and instead, has caved caved caved.

    A recent example is the energy bill, which Reid made sure would pass the Senate only after he allowed Republicans to strip the House version of the mandatory fees on Big Oil for creating new, renewable, sustainable energy sources. I can tell you, the House sponsors of that amendment were EXTREMELY PISSED.

    The House keeps working to pass good bills, Reid keeps destroying all that hard work. Senators regard party loyalty as more important than real leadership and integrity. It’s going to be a long, hard slog getting Reid to step down and make room for Dodd, but you never know… life is stranger than fiction. I suppose there is a small possibility of it happening, but, I suspect, not until after the results of Nov. 2008 are known.

    In the meantime, Act Blue, Blue America and all the other liberal fundraising groups need to target Rockefeller. I don’t think he has a viable challenger yet, but we need to find one, and quickly. He has been a total disaster, a longtime friend to the special interests. He’s already collected more than $118,000 in contributions from telephone and telecom interests for next year’s election.

    We need to be smart and pick him off. It matters.

  • 2. Cujo359  |  December 19th, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    I’ve certainly guessed often enough that Reid must be where he is because Democratic Senators are comfortable with him. This would seem to confirm that.

    There’s no such thing as a vote of “no confidence” here that I’m aware of. I think it would take several such incidents, where the Senate bucks Reid’s authority, before anyone will start talking seriously about removing him.

    shoephone’s right, at least in that the Senate should be trying to find a more effective leader. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty clear they don’t want to.

  • 3. Eli  |  December 20th, 2007 at 12:23 am

    It’s sobering to think that as bad as “Off-The-Table” Pelosi has been, that Harry has been *even worse*.

    Dodd is what the Senate Dems *need*; Reid is what the Senate Dems *want*. I keep thinking of how many times the Republicans win on really godawful bills and nominees by votes of 76 to 22, and that’s a big part of the reason I think that less than half the Democratic caucus can be considered progressive by any stretch of the imagination.

    Also, the 26-27 Dems who vote with the Republicans vary on each vote, so it’s more like there are 35 or 40 of them who aren’t real reliable; good on some issues, terrible on others.

    It doesn’t give me a real warm and fuzzy feeling, especially when if *five* Republicans cross the aisle on something big, it’s a huge deal.

  • 4. shoephone  |  December 22nd, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Oops, I didn’t mean senators value “party loyalty” more than leadership. I meant they value “comity” more. And that silly notion of can’t-we-all-just-get-alongness looks too much like fear and capitulation.

    Feingold is the only other one I see willing to take Reid on WRT votes.

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