Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Booman: "If Harry Reid isn't reelected..."

If Harry Reid isn't reelected, the person most likely to replace him as Majority Leader is Minority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois. Senator Durbin is pretty close to being the most progressive/liberal member of the upper body. But here's a question. How much does it matter what the Majority Leader thinks about policy? Personally, I think we'd get more progressive outcomes with Reid and 60 votes than with Durbin and fifty-nine. It's even debatable that we'd get more progressive outcomes with Reid at 60 than Durbin at sixty. Why? Well, I'm not sure about this, but it would be because Reid is more effective at rounding up the most conservative members of the caucus than Durbin would be.

I think it's a mistake to think that the Majority Leader of the Senate really does all that much 'leading.' Probably the most important attribute is that they be a master of procedure. After that, they need to know what their most recalcitrant members need. As much as I have disagreed with Reid over the years, I've almost never got the impression that he was doing something shitty because it was his personal preference. So, I just don't think we'd gain a whole lot by having Durbin take his job if the cost was to put us below sixty votes. Of course, I'd vote for Bernie Sanders or Jeff Merkley for Majority Leader if given the chance. Durbin would be great. But I bet dollars to donuts that the left would turn on Durbin within three months because they don't understand what a Majority Leader does. They think everyone should be LBJ, when LBJ wasn't even LBJ. Majority Leaders are much more shepherds than 'leaders.'

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