— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) December 6, 2019
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) December 6, 2019
If Fitzpatrick is your rep, you might want to send him a thank-you message.
And a long read, because it’s Saturday morning and worth the effort:
Harry Reid on Biden saying he’ll be able to make deals with Senate Republicans:
“I’ve worked with Senator McConnell, and I wish him luck.”https://t.co/mpg1HvCyZB
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) December 6, 2019
… Harry Reid, who retired in 2017 after representing Nevada for 30 years in the U.S. Senate—a dozen of them as chair of the Democratic caucus, eight of them as Senate majority leader—was supposed to be dead already; his pancreatic cancer was forecasted to prove fatal within weeks. But he’s still here, which is how I came to be talking with him, not long before Thanksgiving, in a conference room at the Bellagio, asking him why he remains the person to whom many of the Democratic presidential candidates come for advice and anointment.
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have both stopped by for meetings and checked in via phone. Pete Buttigieg made a special pilgrimage to see him. Bernie Sanders welcomed Reid to his hospital room after his recent heart attack. Before Mike Bloomberg started filing the paperwork to enter the primaries, he didn’t alert many Democratic Party figures—but he did call Reid…
If defeating Donald Trump rests on the Democratic Party unifying early and strong around a nominee, then the current state of things looks ominous. Polling suggests a scenario in which four different candidates could each win each Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina—with a fifth candidate, Bloomberg, the one with the deepest pockets, only then entering the primaries. Not a recipe for rapid coalescence—and conceivably a situation in which the Democratic convention arrives next July with candidates still scrambling for delegates and no one in possession of a majority. In that case, who could play the role of party elder to mediate among the various factions?
Barack Obama would seem to be the natural choice; he’s not only the last Democratic president, and the only one since Franklin Roosevelt to be elected twice with majorities of the electorate, but he remains the most popular figure, by far, in the Democratic Party. Yet it would be hard for him to appear to remain neutral. He’s good friends with one top-tier candidate, Joe Biden, his vice president for eight years; he’s expressed public doubts and private annoyance about the socialism-inflected movement inspired by another, Bernie Sanders; he’s had an uneasy relationship with a third, Elizabeth Warren, since she briefly worked for him setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Buttigieg has explicitly tried to position himself as the next Obama. (Obama actually has deeper roots and a closer friendship with a fifth candidate, Deval Patrick, than with any of these four.) But beyond this, Obama doesn’t want to be the party mediator or convention broker. Part of why he’s retreated from the public is because he’s hoping the party will move past him, and he doesn’t think that his being seen to have handpicked Trump’s opponent would be good for Democrats’ odds in the general election. There’s also the more self-interested worry about his legacy: What would it say about him if he couldn’t get a deal done, or if his handpicked candidate loses to Trump?
So if not Obama, then who? Not Bill or Hillary Clinton—they’re too loathed by some of the very factions they’d be trying to soothe. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the de facto leader of the party, and people close to her hope and expect that she might be asked to mediate, based on her skill at steering the party toward the center-left. But she doesn’t have much of a relationship with any of the candidates or their campaigns aside from Biden, so she wouldn’t be able to exert personal suasion effectively.
That leaves the man, hairless due to chemotherapy, sitting across from me. Reid knows all the candidates who are within range of contention for the nomination; his former aides populate their campaign staffs. Perhaps most important, given the intransigent nature of Bernie Sanders and his supporters—who were notoriously reluctant to yield to Hillary Clinton last time around—Reid may be the only politician in America other than Sanders himself who’s trusted by Jane O’Meara Sanders, the senator’s wife and possibly most fight-hungry defender…
Reid said he agrees with Obama’s warning two weeks ago that the electorate was not as into progressive revolution as some candidates and Democrats on Twitter want to believe—but he also assured me that the party isn’t on a self-destructive bender. “You can go back and look at presidential primaries for as long as you want to go back, and candidates are always criticized in the primary for being too far to the left. But as time moves on, you wind up being more center. It’s going to happen this time, just like it always has,” he said.
Moreover, opposition to Trump will unite Democrats, he predicted, and heal the rifts among them. “We know that to say four more years of Trump will not be good for the country is a gross, gross understatement.”…
If the selection of the Democratic nominee does come down to Reid brokering a compromise, whom might he back? He won’t say, of course, and has promised not to make any endorsement until at least after Nevada’s primary, at the end of February. But he’s been talking up Warren since the 2016 election ended, and she was the candidate he was decidedly the most effusive about, calling her “one of the finest people I’ve ever worked with.” And many former Reid staffers occupy prominent roles on the Warren and Sanders campaigns and on lefty Twitter.
Does all this mean that you’re a secret liberal, or you’re more progressive than people thought? I asked Reid.
“I’m glad you think it’s a secret,” he told me…