According to Talking Points Memo:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he won't campaign against his arch rival, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is up for reelection in 2014.
"Oh, no. No, I -- that -- I'm a traditionalist here, and that isn't anything I've ever done and will not do," he told Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" in an interview set to air Friday night.
At first I was a bit surprised, even disappointed. First, there's no love lost between Reid and McConnell. And secondly, Kentucky Democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is really in a winnable dogfight that the would knock the sitting Senate Minority leader not only off his chair, but out of the senate all together. This contest sets up to be the most watched in recent history at the Senate level.
As Ludergan Grimes is hardly a household name, even in her own state where she serves as Kentucky's Secretary of State, you would think that she could benefit from the current Senate Majority Leader's support. So when he declared he's not going to actively take part or campaign on her behalf, I was wondering what's going on. Ginning up interest for the Democratic candidate, by a powerful Democratic leader, to knock off the most powerful opposing senator seems like an important endeavor. But Harry publicly says, "no."
Then I got to thinking about why Reid would sit this one out, tradition be damned. Leader Reid says it's customary for leaders of opposing parties not to take a direct shot at their cross-party counterparts. Tradition. Well, so was the filibuster rule in the Senate and Harry had no problems sidestepping tradition there. So why would this be any different?
For a long time I've heard that the generally laconic Harry Reid didn't become Senate Leader without having some political savvy. And then it occurred to me, he is using it right now.
Reid is being cagey like a fox. He's not avoiding this showdown. He's actually, by drawing attention to his not taking sides, helping Alison Lundergan Grimes. What he's doing is very smart. He's appearing to back his comrade McConnell by not only ignoring the urge to say politically damaging things about the Minority Leader, he's making it sound like they're friends. They agree on a lot of things. They can work together. Talk about backhanded praise. There isn't a conservative Republican or Tea Party member in Kentucky who wants to accept compromise and a willingness for their representative to work WITH the Democrats.
Therefore, a vote for Mitch is to vote for the democratic way of thinking and of compromise. Or at least that's the vapors Harry Reid is putting out to Kentucky.
Republicans would rather stay home, than vote for a Mitch McConnell republican the way he's being painted. Democrats will turn out to support a change -- to Alison Ludergan Grimes.
You go Harry, you sneaky fox. Keep saying nice things about your ability to work with Mitch McConnell. Alison Ludergan Grimes, the more Harry "stays out of your campaign," the easier your path to the Senate Chamber is going to become.
There are times when it pays to heed a warning. The Senate is no exception.
For the past two years, Harry Reid has pleaded with the Republicans in the Senate not to abuse the filibuster rule, forcing 60 votes to get approval of presidential nominations to bench seats and as federal department heads. Over and over again, the Majority leader warned that abuse of the filibuster would lead to the 'nuclear option.'
The obstinate party of 'no' called the Democrats perceived bluff and they got themselves 'bitch slapped" as a result.
They brought it on themselves. You would hope they've learned lesson. We'll see.
The latest huffing and puffing, posturing from the GOP Senators, is the Blue Slip rule. If you haven't heard of it, here's how it's explained on Wikipedia:
Both senators from a nominee's state are sent a blue slip in which they may submit a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a nominee. They may also choose not to return a blue slip. The Senate Judiciary Committee takes blue slips into consideration when deciding whether or not to recommend that the Senate confirm a nominee.
So just like the Hastert Rule in the House, it's generally followed BUT NOT BINDING. It's nothing more than a pocket rule, not a law. It's simply a method of doing business.
Once again the Republican senators, led by their leader, Mitch McConnell, are looking for ways of gumming up the government rather than to make it work smoothly -- as a political talking point to advance their public standing. They're threatening to use the Blue Slip procedure to hold up the President's nominations to the court. And once again, Harry Reid is warning them that the Blue Slip procedure will be adhered to only so long as it's not abused. That is called a warning.
Time will tell. The Blue Slips will be distributed to the appropriate senators as nominations are announced. If the GOP-ers act reasonably, then everything will stay the same. But if they capriciously abuse this "courtesy," the next step is they get bitch slapped again. The gentleman's agreement won't be enforced. Any change to the Blue Slip procedure would be up to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. He's not going to be tolerant very long.
Hopefully the Senate Republicans and their obstructionism will subside. If they want to be taken seriously they'll remember another old adage, "Once bitten, twice shy."