The Lessons of Harry Reid

harry reidPresident Obama should consider the lessons learned by the reelection of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who confounded pundits and triumphed against gale-force winds of personal attacks and Republican waves.

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.

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.

Brent BudowskyWhile our political debates will continue, let’s mobilize the good will and patriotism of an American people who are in this together and won’t accept an America in decline.

There are Democrats and Republicans with private-sector experience who can become the new Kemps and Bentsens, working together on a wide range of issues to support venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Brent Budowsky

Republished with permission.


  1. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    There is a model for victory in 2012. Why one would try and re-write the model is beyond me. Clinton and Reagan are the models. Both had very difficult midterm elections. Both sought middle ground in the following two years. Both were re-elected easily. I can’t understand why anyone with half-a political brain would continue to hold to the view that fight, fight, fight, with all your might will cause the American people to reward you at the polls. Only 20% of the electorate is “liberal.” Almost 40% consider themselves conservatives leaving another 40% in the middle. Math dictates that Republicans need only get a small percentage of moderates to go along with them for victory. Most of this group voted for Obama in 2008 along with some conservatives who thought Obama would be more moderate. However, the bloom is off the rose and to expect those people to again vote for Obama next time is nonsense. Therefore, you are going to have to capture a good chunck of moderate voters. You can’t do that with liberal policies over the next two years. Additionally, if unemployment does not drop below 9% in 2012, it will be even more difficult to get these moderates to vote Democratic. Appearance is more important than reality. When President Obama froze Federal salaries, he did the same thing Bohener asked him to do a few weeks before. It was the proper course and caused liberals no damage. There are plenty of issues like that one that must be pushed to the forefront and leave the fighting on the other issues to another day. That day will come but not if everything is a battle until 2012.

  2. Ted Vaill says

    Politics is war, and President Obama and the Democrats in Congress should treat it that way. Give no quarter. Attack the Republicans as greedy racists. The Republican Party in Congress is now composed of extreme right wing ideologues who hate the President and everything he stands for. Their only agenda for the next two years is to get rid of him in 2012, so treat them as the enemy, to be demonized at every turn. Show them up to the American people as only interested in protecting their rich friends. Try to drive a wedge between the Tea Partiers and the Republicans, whom many Teabaggers hate almost as much as the Democrats. FDR routinely ridiculed the Republicans, and did not care if they hated him. President Obama should give up trying to compromise with the Republicans in Congress, whose only way is “my way or the highway”. I say “Hell no!” to any compromise with the Republicans. If the Republicans are exposed repeatedly as greedy right wing ideologues, the American voter will turn against them in 2012.

    If the Republican agenda for the next two years is “Hell No!”, give them Hell back. Harry Truman did it, and he was reelected.

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