Fighting the partisan fight


Sen. Harry Reid's new book about himself attempts to explain the life and times of Nevada's senior senator from Searchlight. It seeks by its very title "The Good Fight" to justify a combative track record of partisanship over leadership. Sen. Reid was given a golden opportunity to rise above the petty politics of our time ... but he didn't.

Instead, he choose to fight a partisan wedge game against Republicans in the war against anti-U.S. terrorism. When his country needed his support, he declared the war in Iraq "lost" while soldiers were in harm's way. He called the military "surge" a failure before the "surge" arrived in Iraq. When our troops achieved initial goals, he stood his partisan "we're-not-winning" ground like a stubborn jackass.

His position against terrorism throughout the post 9/11 ordeal has been anything but a fighting one, unless you count his combative encounters with American military leaders and the commander in chief.

(Prediction: If a Democrat gains the White House next year and decides to to do the right thing and meet the enemy on their turf instead of ours, Sen. Reid will be all for it. All the things Sen. Reid "fights" against with a Republican president today, he will "fight" for with a Democratic president tomorrow.)

But chiefly to understand how Sen. Reid squandered his opportunity to lead, consider this small but telling story: He could not even bring himself to alter a minor South American junket/vacation to attend the state funeral for former President Gerald Ford.

A small thing, perhaps, but as it turns out indicative of Sen. Reid's future partisan behavior. America mourned the passing of a president, and as is our custom as a nation leaders from both parties gathered. Except the new head of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, who could not be bothered. That was low and petty. You can bet if it were President Carter or Clinton's state funeral, Sen. Reid would have been there. This is how Sen Reid has generally conducted himself as Senate "leader" -- a rough and tumble guy who can't find the judgment and leadership to know when not to fight.

This is not to say that over the span of Harry's career there isn't much to recommend. Just his story of overcoming hardship and poverty is remarkable. As a Nevadan, I am proud of his accomplishments. But his performance since becoming head of the Senate has been lackluster at best.

This book notwithstanding, when time and independent scholars sift the facts and separate the baby from the diaper, you can bet the failure to lead when he had the opportunity will be Sen. Reid's legacy.