Bolton says, "Congressional experts say the Nevada Democrat has used more strong-arm tactics than his predecessors, has a firm grip on his Democratic colleagues and has played a major role in changing the once-collegial Senate." Bolton calls Reid the "most powerful Senate majority leader in history." It is a jolting statement backed up with plenty of hard evidence.
This is something those who lobby Congress probably can't say. Some just don't think the issue resonates with voters anyway. Democrats who think it is true won't say it publicly. Some are just afraid. But as one who spends time every week in some place other than Washington, it is being whispered by just about everyone, just about everywhere. The Senate Majority Leader is developing an insurmountable credibility gap with the American people that makes him a political liability to his own party and a glaring example of the arrogant partisanship the public hates. More importantly he seems increasingly unwilling or incapable of leading the Senate in a constructive way.
This is less a partisan issue than a practical one. A dysfunctional Senate undermines progress on issues of importance to business like trade, taxes, immigration, and energy and prevents Congress from enforceable oversight of the regulatory excess of this Administration.
I once worked in the office of the Senate Majority Leader. I know how difficult the job can be. Trent Lott once called it "herding cats." The Majority Leader is a party official with no real statutory authority. By tradition, however, he has to be much more than a party officer. He must be the adult in the room when the country needs an adult. This requires the leader be an occasional diplomat, a peacemaker when necessary and a dealmaker all the time. Some leaders are better at parts of this than others, but the position requires loyalty to the Constitution, the rule of law and the role of governing.
Sadly, this Majority Leader is failing at all of those. He has become a co-conspirator with the Administration in undermining the role of the Article I branch of government. His bellicose outbursts and temperament shortcomings are coming back to haunt his own party's candidates out on main street. If his own caucus doesn't yet appreciate that, maybe the Ambassador to China does.
The Senate Majority Leader isn't on the ballot this year, but for many incumbent Democratic Senators struggling for reelection, he is becoming an issue from which his own party cannot escape and for which they are increasingly being held accountable. His sometimes reckless rhetoric and cavalier disregard for process doesn't sit well with down home folks, main street independents and increasingly even fed up Democrats.
There was his unsubstantiated claim Romney lied on his taxes, his on camera assertion that all bad stories about the Affordable Care Act were untrue and his unprecedented attacks on the Koch brothers as being "un-American." While few understand exactly HOW he changed the Senate rules, they know it sounds like "trickery." His response to the incident with the rancher in Nevada made him look like a bully out to protect his hand-picked agency head. His comments that Americans who disagree with the sometimes heavy hand of the government are "domestic terrorists" was unbelievably intemperate.
The concept of blaming all this on Republican obstructionism is wearing thin. The annual budget resolution required by law is not subject to a GOP filibuster but he chooses not to consider one to save his own party from having to make difficult votes. He said he is considering more parliamentary chicanery to restrict GOP filibusters of nominees for U.S. attorney even though not a single such nominee has been held up because of a filibuster. It is an endless list. I suspect the Majority Leader intends all this to reflect poorly on the GOP. Instead, it shines the light on his own history of bizarre behavior.
Every U.S. Senator has the right to be as outrageous as he/she wants to be and there have been plenty of outrageous characters in the Senate over the years. Still, the Majority Leader must have a higher calling. He carries the burden of making the "world's greatest deliberative body" actually work. He has to rise above the petty for the greater good. This Majority Leader isn't and shows no interest in doing so. That damages the Senate and the nation and makes the business of doing business with the Senate almost impossible. It has to change.
For those interested in constructive policy outcomes there must be some return to regular order and reasoned decorum. That will not happen unless the Congress that convenes in January 2015 has a new Senate Majority Leader. That is and rightly should be an issue in this fall's campaign. Every candidate running for the U.S. Senate must be asked for whom would they vote if their party is in the majority. The voters may make the change by electing a Republican Majority. But should Democrats remain the majority party next January, it would most certainly be in their own best interests, as well as the nation's, to find a suitable replacement.
To read this story by The Hill, and its message about Senator Reid, please visit http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/206733-an-imperial-majority-leader-reid-trumps-forebears-power.