Shooting From the Hip...
In the upcoming June 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, Senate minority leader Harry Reid rips Republicans and George Bush a "new one." Quietly. Pleasantly. Honestly. After reading the Eric Bates piece, you'll know why they call Reid, "The Gunslinger."
Rolling Stone editorial lead-in pretty much covers what Reid has been up to since being selected Democratic leader -- "In his first five months as minority leader, Sen. Harry Reid has come out swinging. The soft-spoken Nevadan has called George Bush a "loser," Clarence Thomas an "embarrassment" and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan a "political hack." He has held the Democrats together to oppose Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. And he stood up to Majority Leader Bill Frist and other radical Republicans who tried to deploy the "nuclear option" to overturn the Senate tradition of judicial filibusters. In the end, the Republicans blinked first, as seven moderates abandoned Frist to cut a deal with the Democrats on May 23rd. The following day, beneath the portrait of Mark Twain that hangs in his office in the Capitol building, Reid sat down to talk with ROLLING STONE.
Is the deal real? Republicans are saying they will still go nuclear if you filibuster.
They're saying that to cover themselves. The nuclear option is history. Listen: The Republicans who signed that agreement, we should put up a statue to them someplace. That was a brave thing they did.
Why couldn't you and Frist agree on a deal yourselves to avert a showdown?
He couldn't do a deal. He's being driven by these right-wing zealots.
What did you learn about Frist during your negotiations?
I like him, but he hasn't been in government very long. He's a doctor, and doctors have a little different outlook on life. Being a senator is about the art of compromise. That's what the filibuster is all about -- it forces compromise. And if anyone feels that compromising is unethical, or immoral, then they should get in some other business -- because that's what we do.
What differences do you see in Bush now that he's in his second term?
This first five months of the second term, he and his folks have become even more pushy than they were in the first four years.
What kinds of gains will Democrats make in 2006?
Well, history's on our side. Presidents who have been in Bush's situation have lost from one to thirteen senators. We are going to be competitive in races in Pennsylvania, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Missouri.
You've called Bush a loser.
And a liar.
You apologized for the loser comment.
But never for the liar, have I?