Now that Harry Reid has been chosen Senate Minority Leader, I’d like to congratulate him on achieving this lofty position. It’s a long way from Searchlight to the Senate, and he’s worked hard for it. He now faces a daunting job as leader of the Senate’s Democratic caucus, and will have to make choices every day that will affect the direction this country will take. It’s a big responsibility. I think he’s up to it, but it will take a new approach, determination and strength of will to hold out against all the pressure that will be put on him from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
Reid is fond of reminding people of his humble beginnings in Nevada, and his fellow citizens continue to support him. He co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment banning the burning of the U.S. flag, opposed restrictions on mining and voted against extending a national handgun ban. His position in the Senate has brought Nevada numerous government-funded projects. But now, he will be judged for more than what he can do for Nevada. Like the man he is replacing, Tom Daschle, he will be judged on his values, which affect both his state and our entire nation.
He is reported to be a religious man who is anti-abortion and supported a Nevada initiative defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But, he has not supported a national initiative defining the same marriage issue. Instead, he has taken the position to leave this very important marriage issue to the liberal courts to decide. We strongly suggest the Senator revisit his position on this matter, as he will be held accountable for his actions, or lack thereof.
Since 1999, when he was chosen to be second-in-command to Tom Daschle, Reid has earned a reputation in Congress as both a consensus-builder and an obstructionist. He learned to play the “Good Cop-Bad Cop” game, letting Daschle take the direct lead in controversial fights such as obstructing the president’s judicial nominees, while Reid worked behind the scenes to forge alliances and relationships on both sides of the aisle to advance the same liberal objectives. Even though they were both promoting the same agenda, “Good-Cop” Reid became known as a moderate, while “Bad-Cop” Daschle was labeled an obstructionist.
The leader of one anti-tax group labeled Daschle “the Darth Vader of American politics.” The question now is, has the man from Searchlight turned to the “Dark Side?” Reid’s statements following his appointment as Minority Leader certainly gave us cause to wonder, as he said Democrats would not be “pushed around” by Republicans who may interpret the November 2 election results as an endorsement of more conservative policies. He was quoted as saying, “I think the majority should be careful about throwing words around like ‘mandate.’ President Bush may have won the election, but it was certainly no mandate.”
I wholeheartedly disagree. Liberals who are still complaining that Al Gore was robbed of the presidency in 2000 are now refusing to take an honest look around and see what the majority of the country really wants. The Senate now contains only 44 Democrats, the fewest since 1931. Liberals and the ballot measures they supported were soundly defeated over most of the country. Yes, a few show business personalities made headlines with their support of liberal causes, but people in the heartland of America – and I include Nevada in that category – uphold the same traditional values that have kept this country great for over 200 years.
Reid will have to perform a dangerous balancing act in his new position; since several moderate Democrats either resigned or were defeated in the recent elections, the remaining Democratic caucus now contains a larger percentage of liberals than it did before. As leader of the caucus, Reid will be expected to represent their views in upcoming battles over judicial appointments, tort reform, Social Security and the tax system.
Reid must remember that he represents Nevada voters and the nation as well, and we’ll be watching to make sure he remembers who voted him into office in the first place. As powerful as Tom Daschle was, it seems he ignored the vital fact that the citizens of the tiny state of South Dakota, not his buddies in the liberal caucus, held the political power to pull him down from his lofty perch as Minority Leader. His was the first loss by an incumbent Senate party leader in half a century.
I wish nothing but the best for Harry Reid, and would hate to see him meet Tom Daschle’s fate. He’s an intelligent man, and hopefully learned a lesson from watching Daschle’s downfall.
To help him keep his sense of perspective, Nevada Business Journal pledges to report regularly on issues important to Nevada, and track how Reid performs in representing our state and our nation. I consider Reid a friend to Nevada, and friends watch out for each other. We’ll be watching him carefully. That shouldn’t be considered a warning – it’s more like a promise made to a friend.
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