- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

With Republicans in the doldrums these days, Democrats are hopeful that 2006 is their year to recapture at least one chamber of Congress. It’s a plausible outcome, except for one thing: Sen. Harry Reid. Not to be unfair to the senator, but rarely has a minority leader so threatened the majority ambitions of his party.

We were reminded of Mr. Reid’s ineffectiveness Wednesday as he toured a section of the southern border near San Diego in advance of next week’s debate over immigration reform. With the haze of Tijuana, Mexico, in the background, the senator told reporters that he would “use every procedural means at [his] disposal” to stop Sen. Bill Frist’s security-first immigration bill.

One need not search too long to find the pointlessness of Mr. Reid’s threat: Mr. Frist has proposed, but not yet introduced, his bill as a last-resort measure should the Judiciary Committee fail to produce a comprehensive bill next week, which is likely. This page would prefer the Frist bill to be the primary topic of debate, but even guest-worker proponents must concede that doing nothing about immigration this year would be far more damaging politically than passing a border-security measure that a majority of Americans want. Now, come November if Congress has nothing to show on immigration reform, whom does Mr. Reid think Republicans will point to as the chief cause of inaction?

Perhaps more astounding was Mr. Reid’s appeal to the president to support him on comprehensive reform. “We need his help,” he said. This is the same president Mr. Reid has been describing as “dangerously incompetent.” As the Boston Globe reported, Mr. Reid “was eager to give the incompetence label ‘an edge,’ said Reid aide, Jim Manley, and ‘dangerous’ was the winning adverb, adding a flourish to the Democrats’ new line of attack.” Beamed Mr. Manley, “It’s on the cutting edge of what’s going on.” Indeed, one must delve deeply into the Oxford English Dictionary to find the word “dangerous.”

Reading this, we couldn’t help but wonder if “hack” or “embarrassment” were similarly studied for their “cutting edge.” Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Mr. Reid has said, is “one of the biggest political hacks” in Washington, while Justice Clarence Thomas is an “embarrassment to the court,” whose opinions are “poorly written.”

Such gaffes and humiliations have plagued Mr. Reid, who is more likely to be led by than lead his own caucus. Even when he is fulfilling his post, his opposition usually amounts to vain obstructionism, such as boasting to a cheering crowd last year that Democrats “killed the Patriot Act.” Mr. Reid, recall, was one of the 34 Democrats who voted for the Patriot Act three months later. Mr. Reid, living in a glass house himself, has not been well advised to throw around the phrase “incompetent.”

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