Harry Reid’s Price Of Failed Leadership

Harry Reid is in trouble in his reelection effort in Nevada. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s report on a new poll by Mason Dixon:

Nevadans say they’re ready to replace longtime Democratic incumbent Sen. Harry Reid with an untested Republican.

Which Republican? Undecided.

But of their top two picks — former GOP party official Sue Lowden and real estate developer Danny Tarkanian — either one would unseat Reid if the election were held today, according to a poll commissioned by the Review-Journal.

Lowden and Tarkanian are in a statistical tie atop a list of nine primary candidates, according to the survey of Nevada registered voters.

In one general election scenario, 49 percent of respondents picked Lowden and 39 percent chose Reid. In another, 48 percent picked Tarkanian to 43 percent for Reid. That poll, which surveyed 500 voters Tuesday through Thursday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

In Clark County, where Reid needs to dominate to win another term, he is in a statistical tie with either Lowden or Tarkanian.

“That is the bad news,” UNLV political science professor David Damore said of Reid’s Clark County numbers. “That tells you there is a disaffected base there.”

For months the perception of Reid among voters has been fixed, with near 100 percent name recognition and a high number of voters viewing him unfavorably. In the latest poll, 38 percent of voters viewed Reid favorably compared to 50 percent with an unfavorable view.

Chris Cillizza, the David Broder wannabe and heir apparent, draws the knee jerk Villager conclusion that Reid’s troubles result from Nevada voters viewing him as too liberal and carrying too much water for Barack Obama.

But Cillizza typically ignores that Barack Obama won Nevada over McCain by a huge margin, 55% to 43% ten short months ago. And Cillizza ignores that Nevada is populated by a huge community of service employees in the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas, and generally a poor to middle class populous in the remaining areas, all of whom are dying for healthcare reform and relief. It is not that Democratic votes are not there for Reid; it is that Nevadans are fed up with his inability to get the things done that they want, and healthcare with a strong public option that will actually help them, is undoubtedly the leader in their clubhouse of reasoning.

The depth of Reid’s problem should not be underestimated. Nor should the challenge of Republican businessman Danny Tarkanian. Tarkanian grew up in Las Vegas, was a top student and Rhodes Scholar candidate, and was point guard on the first of the famous UNLV Runnin Rebel basketball teams that held forth for the better part of two decades at or near the top of the NCAA standings. Oh, by the way, those famous UNLV teams were coached by Danny’s father Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian, probably the most beloved name in Nevada sports history. Tarkanian’s mother was a Las Vegas City Councilwoman and active philanthropist. The guy has some serious juice from his name and background and will get major support from the GOP assuming he continues to climb in relation to GOP official Sue Lowden, which he is expected to do.

The conclusion here is that Reid has serious problems and they are of his own making. Unless Reid gets with the program, exercises some party discipline from his Majority Leader position and starts working earnestly for the causes, first and foremost the strong public option, of Democratic voters, he will not get any support from the activist base. As Jane Hamsher says:

There are 51 Senators who will vote for a public option, something 77% of the country wants. It would win a majority in a floor vote. We were told that we needed 60 votes in the Caucus so we’d have a filibuster-proof majority — so that the GOP would never block a bill from getting to the floor. The only reason not to put the HELP Committee public option in the Senate bill is because Joe Lieberman and other “ConservaDems” are conducting a silent filibuster — they won’t say it publicly but they’ll say privately that they will vote with the GOP to filibuster the bill.

That means the Democratic caucus will now filibuster itself.

Either you’re going to enforce caucus discipline or you don’t have a party. You have instead a collection of self-interested narcissists, each one with the ability to derail any legislation they don’t like. Every Senator who derives their political power from membership in the caucus is thereby granted the power to torpedo any piece of legislation from coming to a vote, with no consequences. It’s an outrage.

So if Reid won’t enforce caucus discipline, if as Majority Leader he now says it’s acceptable to use the “60 vote” threshold to water down the bill, he has to wear it. No matter how he votes personally. No matter how much the White House makes a fetish of bipartisanship and courts Olympia Snowe. No matter what cover anyone else tries to give him.

I don’t care if we have to recruit a Democratic primary challenger. Maybe someone from the Culinary Workers? I don’t care it we have to blitz the Nevada airwaves with ads about Reid’s coziness with DC lobbyists, or maybe how his son — who is running for Governor — just sits back while his father adds $2000 a year to Nevada health insurance premiums at their behest. And I sure don’t fucking care if Danny Tarkanian becomes the next Senator from Nevada, because at that point 60 votes don’t mean anything anyway.

And that, as Walter Cronkite would say, is the way it is. Harry Reid needs to wake up and get with the program the voters overwhelmingly want; if he doesn’t, he is going to be sucking on a wet towel by himself out in his trailer in Henderson. Sucking on a wet towel is what Tark the Shark was famous for (along with fast, exciting and winning teams); wouldn’t it be ironic if Tark’s son is the one who sent Hanoi Harry Reid to that ugly end of the road?

14 replies
  1. Hmmm says:

    So primary him. Let the local D’s lead that so it doesn’t backfire nationally.

    Harry did this to himself. You can’t make bipartisanship an absolute goal that’s always higher than party goals, and you can’t stick to bipartisanship as your North Star when the other party refuses to even play. It don’t work.

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t think the Dems have anybody else that is truly viable. I would not be surprised to see some progressives put up a union leader os some sort, maybe SEIU or something, just to send a message (as Jane suggested). I think the Tarkanian kid could be formidable if he makes it through the primary and if Reid stays weak. Although, to be fair, the young Tark lost a general election for Sec of State in Nevada in 2006 I think.

  2. Arbusto says:

    Reid is a weak sister any way you cut it. He’s a piss poor leader, though that’s what the DINO’s apparently want, and will not, cannot, get with a progressive program. Since he doesn’t care to equate 51 votes as a majority for doing the Country’s business, the Country would be well rid of him. Adios mother!

  3. MadDog says:

    Tis early for an OT comment, but I had to pass on this juicy bit from Secrecy News:

    …Former Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote a book last year in which he faulted the Bush Administration for a lack of candor in connection with the war in Iraq, mishandling of classified information in the Scooter Libby case, and other defects. A contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter was held on June 20, 2008, the record of which has just been published (98 page pdf), with an August 2009 response from Mr. McClellan

    (My Bold)

    • MadDog says:

      And from page 94 of that 98 page PDF:

      Congressman Smith’s False Premise Number 3

      Congressman Smith falsely asserts that I had nothing new and substantive to reveal in my book, What Happened, about the Plame leak episode (see questions 14 and 15). The Congressman’s assertion is contradicted by his own questionaire (see question 19) and, of course, the fact that there are additional revelations in my book.

      The revelation cited in question 19, specifically the Vice President having asked the President to direct me to publicly exonerate Scooter Libby of being involved in the leaking of Plame’s CIA employment, is very significant new information. I am confident the Special Counsel would have asked the President and, more importantly, the Vice President about it. I know he asked me about it and discussed it with Andy Card.

      Given the Special Counsel’s comments about the Vice President’s role in the leak episode, I am confident he viewed this conversation as highly significant to the investigation. If the Ranking Republican Member is genuinely interested in helping to shed light on the truth for the public, then I would urge him as well as his Republican colleagues on the committee to call on the Justice Department not to block efforts to obtain the public release of the Special Counsel’s interview with Vice President Cheney…

      (My Bold)

  4. tejanarusa says:

    Why is it the Villagers always assume trouble comes from beng “too liberal?” Has it occurred to nobody that the last election and the last 8 years changed things?

    Yeah, I know, dumb question.

    I fear that the entire administration is still operating on this premise, as well. They really need to get out of the bubble more often.

  5. bgrothus says:

    Let’s be practical. Reid is in the Senate where (when he is not bumbling his ostensible leadership) he has to raise lots of money to keep his job. His job is notsobad, but he does have all those pesky and restless villagers to contend with, plus raise that dough for re-election.

    If he loses the election, he will succeed by not having to raise legally limited amounts of money from people who will gladly pay him large sums without his having to ask to use his influence on his former colleagues. Therefore, he wins, plus he does not have the villagers to contend with, also. A really big win, plus, mavericky. What does he care for the voters? Why bother?

    • Hmmm says:

      If the cost to me of seeing Harry out of there is limited to the discomfort of living with the injustice that he’s making tons of money in his after-Senate life, then I think that’s a cost I can live with. Gladly, even.

      The point isn’t whether Harry prospers, it’s whether the far larger damage is stopped.

  6. MadDog says:

    OT – Status update on the release of those Telco lobbying records from EFF:

    Federal Court Denies Government Attempt to Delay Release of Telecom Records. Again.

    Today a federal district court denied (5 page PDF) the government’s latest emergency motion asking for a 30-day stay in last Friday’s deadline to release records relating to telecom lobbying over last year’s debate over immunity for corporate participation in government spying. The new deadline is October 16, at 4 p.m. Pacific time…

  7. Slothrop says:

    Long time ago, late 70’s, Jerry Tarkanian’s agent, Vic Weiss, was found shot to death in the trunk of his Rolls Royce in LA. No one has ever been arrested. It’s kind of embarrassing for the entire Tarkanian family: being that close to the victim and all.

    But, as I say, it happened a long time ago.

  8. james says:

    Aunt Harry is going to lose in Nevada and he is getting back at everyone in this country by allowing the Democratic majority in the Senate to be impotent. If he had any balls, he’d buck the White House and Rahm and make a declaration that we don’t need no stinkin’ Republican support to get a good bill, with an option that benefits most Americans, through using reconciliation.

    But he’s an empty sack.

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