Reid’s Inside Game?

Carl Hulse and Adam Nagourney, in a piece on the legislative procedural mastery of Mitch McConnell:

Even Mr. McConnell’s fellow Republicans say somewhat admiringly that he can be a secretive and coldly calculating tactician with an eye for political openings, someone more consumed by political strategy than ideology or philosophy.

He is in many ways the mirror image of his Democratic counterpart, Mr. Reid. Both are experts at the inside game who struggle with the burden of trying to control a political caucus at a time when legislative leaders no longer have the brute power they once had and senators are hailed for acting like mavericks.

I really don’t get where the perception that Harry Reid is a master of Senate strategy comes from. I can’t think of a single issue over Reid’s tenure leading the Democratic Senate caucus where his tactical choices made me think he has any mastery of procedure that allows him to affect positive outcomes. Sure, he’s been pretty good at preventing liberal members from getting things done, but at all times it’s been while simultaneously stating that he can’t do what he personally wants to do. Usually mastery of process is demonstrated by making sure that what you want to have happen happens. So either Reid is a liar or he’s someone who doesn’t actually have mastery of “the inside game” unto what is needed for success. Or both.

I’m just really frustrated by being forced to read hagiographic assessments of someone who has shepherded one of the most disappointing and unsuccessful legislative sessions in Senate history as an expert of any sort. Experts get things done. Experts succeed. Clearly Mitch McConnell has mastered both Senate procedure and maintaining caucus discipline. In so doing, he has slowed the Democratic agenda to an historic degree, and positioned his party well to make gains in the 2010 midterms. I don’t see any great journalistic value in the Times singing McConnell’s praises on the verge of passing an albeit watered down health care bill, either, but there’s absolutely no need to elevate Reid to even McConnell’s level in the process.

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