QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has taken his share of criticism in recent years from observers on the left — including, at times, from me — but I think it’s fair to say he can be quite adept at managing the floor, working the calendar, and taking advantage of opportunities.
He can’t necessarily pull together 60 votes if they’re not there, but Reid didn’t become Majority Leader by accident. If given a chance, he can make things happen.
Among the leading questions, at this point, is whether he can make DADT repeal happen. Success on the issue will depend in large part on Reid’s commitment — and time-management skills. With that in mind, here was Reid on the Senate floor earlier today:
We’re … going to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule. We’re going to match our policy with our principles and finally say that in the United States, everyone who steps up to serve our country should be welcomed.
“Republicans know they don’t have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense Authorization Act, so they’re holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment like MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.”
That strikes me as pretty encouraging. Reid can be clumsy when it comes to rhetoric, but if he considered this a lost cause, I tend to think he’d avoid the subject, or at a minimum, say things like “we hope to get this done” or “we’re going to make an effort.” Today’s remarks seemed more forceful.
In related news, there’s reportedly growing support among Senate Democrats for pushing off the end-date for the lame-duck session. The leadership still needs more input from caucus members, but the idea, which we talked about earlier, has been picked up by several members today.
In the meantime, Defense Secretary Robert Gates continues to urge the Senate to do the right thing, though he conceded today that he’s “not particularly optimistic that they will get this done.”
If Reid can schedule the time and set a target, there’s still a real opportunity to overcome the pessimism and make this happen.