The lessons of Harry Reid


Harry Reid is the Papa Grizzly of the Democrats who fights for himself and every Senate Democrat. Reid is also the great legislator who negotiates honorably with Republicans and always keeps his word.

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Reid believes in the art of war to win campaigns and the art of the deal to govern the nation.

President Obama can rejuvenate his presidency by mobilizing every weapon against the aggressive war being waged against him, while seizing the high ground by offering Republicans a genuine role in a national unity program that the majority of voters want.

The president should issue a patriotic call and bring into his government nationally respected figures such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and former White House counselor David Gergen. The president will make a historic mistake if he believes minor changes will help him govern in 2011 or prevail in 2012.

Politics is war. The GOP and its far right wing are waging a war against the president that employs attacks and innuendo against his family, faith and patriotism, with some extreme opponents even refusing to clearly respect our president’s Americanism and Christianity.

These attempts to demonize an American president and delegitimize his ability to govern are dangerous to the nation, damaging to our security and destructive to what most voters want for America.

Democrats should ignore opining from certain wealthy Democrats such as George Soros, who met the GOP onslaught of 2010 by manning the rowboats and leaving the battle.

David Axelrod is wrong when he says Democrats should support independent committees but refuse money from undisclosed donors.

Politics is war. Memo to Democrats: Welcome to the NFL. Republicans take money from undisclosed sources. Democrats should too. In the NFL both teams get four downs. It is folly to suggest Republicans get four downs and Democrats get three.

Democrats should host a summit of wealthy donors and organize a national roadshow to raise massive monies for 2012. Democrats should “bless” independent groups led by major-league players such as Harold Ickes or James Carville, who can compete with Karl Rove.

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), a close ally of Reid and rising star among Senate Democratic leaders, shares the same tenacity of a fighter who plays to win and a legislator who gets things done. She was rewarded with reelection.

Reid and Murray won because they knew the war was coming, planned to fight it, organized to win it and campaigned with a ferocious will.

Democrats should tap the power of the Reid model, which treats politics as the art of war and governing as the art of the deal. They are mutually reinforcing in Washington today.

The president should boldly seize the mantle of national unity, bring to his government major figures of national repute and make the Republicans an offer they refuse at their peril.

In the meantime, politics is war. Democrats must play to win, as Harry Reid did in Nevada.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.