Friday, October 15, 2010

WTF, Harry Reid?

Sharron Angle is a Democrat's dream come true. Even for an embattled and deeply unpopular Democrat like Harry Reid, she should be easily sent packing. Unlike fellow crazy Christine O'Donnell, she doesn't have the good looks and snappy one-liners that play so well in America's superficial political culture. (We've written about her craziness again and again -- click here and scroll down.) And so it takes a massive implosion to look bad in juxtaposition, and that is precisely what happened to Reid last night:

Why Harry Reid agreed to have a debate with Sharron Angle is a bit of a mystery to me. If your campaign is based on portraying your opponent as loony, then why give that opponent a chance to look reasonable? Lyndon Johnson never debated Barry Goldwater. Then again, I'm no political strategist. And neither, I've come to see, is Harry Reid. So let's focus on what matters now: that a debate was held in Nevada last night between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle. And its upshot was -- sorry, folks -- that Angle improved her chances.

I'm not suggesting that Sharron Angle, having been granted the opportunity to look reasonable, looked reasonable. On the contrary, she was very much herself -- smiling maniacally in her crimson suit and hurling out bizarre fictions. But she looked reasonable enough. Lies about policy don't really hurt you in a debate, especially when they're voiced with conviction. What hurts you is looking evasive and squishy. Sharron Angle provided the lies. Harry Reid provided the squish. 

That's right, the Senate majority leader, an experienced politician who should know better, lost a debate that he didn't need to have to one of the archetypes of 2010 Republican insanity. 

Oh sure, it wasn't entirely Reid's fault. A political culture in which lies play well is a sick political culture, one that rewards extremism-with-conviction over wishy-washy reasonableness. And, too, as Kevin Drum put it, "Angle may have benefited from galactically low expectations."

But still. You have to be something of a loser to lose to Angle, and, let's be honest about this, Reid has the stink of loserdom on him.

Read T.A. Frank's piece in full for some analysis of the details of the debate. And read also Jon Ralston's post-debate take at the Las Vegas Sun. As usual, he gets it right:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate.

Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

Whether the debate affects the outcome -- I believe very few Nevadans are undecided -- it also perfectly encapsulated the race: An aging senator who has mastered the inside political game but fundamentally does not seem to care about his public role (and is terrible at it) versus an ever-smiling political climber who can deliver message points but sometimes changes her message or denies a previous one even existed.

Ugh. I've never expected Reid to run away with the race, not with anti-incumbent populist rage all the rage at the moment, but, again, he should have no problem beating such an overwhelmingly unqualified and extremist opponent.

It's embarrassing, and, with Democrats fighting for their political lives, hardly what the party needs from one of its leaders.

For more, see Steve M. and Steve Benen.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • I had an exchange on here with an anonymous commenter, but I've chosen to delete it. Honestly, there's no use allowing comments that don't contribute in some way to the discussion. If you disagree with me, fine. But if you just want to come on here to make ad hominem attacks, what's the point?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 2:04 AM  

  • Reid looked bad. He looked like the typical Democratic leader who is out of touch. It shows. But the worse is that he really doesn't know why he isn't winning in the polls big. To me he looks confused at best, Too snotty to have to explain himself, the Senate Majority Leader, to the little people. I have no vote in a Nevada mid-term election. But I am from the Mid-West who enjoys the trips to Vegas! Great state, great city. By that I feel conected. And even though Reid is the Senate Majority leader, his far left agenda with President Obama must stop. And the citizens of the great State of Neveda know this and will get it done. It is a hard decision to vote out a high Senate leader from office. But Nevedians need to do it for themselves and their state. And for the rest of the country. The USA wants so come back to Vegas. Give Obama & Reid a big message.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:38 AM  

  • The times we're living in call for statesmen-- leaders like Paul Wellstone. Instead, we get Parson Harry Reid. Sadly poetic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:24 PM  

  • If you think that Harry Reid and Barack Obama are "far-left," they're not the ones who are out of touch.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 8:56 AM  

  • Damn, you beat me to that punch, but preposterous accusations have now replaced old fashioned slander and exaggeration. Thus, facts notwithstanding, Fox is surely not run by Republicans, Reagan was a Communist (along with Eisenhower and nearly every other Republican President) And every other thing is now its opposite.

    And I wonder that these pretend populists can lament the results of Democracy yet talk about taking back the country from the voters.

    If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, let's hope that applies to the whole damned state and it's damned politics.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:56 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home