Report: Harry Reid 'Seethed' At Disengaged President Obama
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats are increasingly frustrated with how disengaged President Obama is, according an article in the New York Times.
The story, by reporters Carl Hulse, Jeremy Peters, and Michael Shear, is the second highly critical Obama story this week from the Times, which earlier noted that Obama was crafting his use of executive power “almost entirely behind closed doors” with “lobbyists and interest groups.”
The article reveals that Obama coolly dismissed Reid during a meeting with Sen. Mitch McConnell and two other members of Congress in a meeting in June.
“You and Mitch work it out,” Obama said quickly after Reid complained about Republicans blocking the confirmation of U.S. ambassador nominees.
According to the Times, Reid “seethed quietly” during the rest of the meeting.
“After his return to the Capitol that afternoon, Mr. Reid told other senators and his staff members that he was astonished by how disengaged the president seemed,” the Times reports.
Notably, following the conflict with Reid, Obama disparaged Republicans in August for blocking ambassador nominations at a time when the world was in crisis.
“Even basic things like approving career diplomats for critical ambassadorial posts aren't getting done,” he said during his pre-vacation press conference, criticizing Senate Republicans for briefly blocking the new ambassador to Russia.
“They’re still blocking our ambassador to Sierra Leone, where there’s currently an Ebola outbreak. They’re blocking our ambassador to Guatemala, even as they demand that we do more to stop the flow of unaccompanied children from Guatemala,” he continued. “There are a lot of things that we could be arguing about on policy … we shouldn’t be having an argument about placing career diplomats with bipartisan support in countries around the world where we have to have a presence.”
The article also notes that Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, regularly criticizes White House political operations when speaking to other Democrats.
Typically, members of a political party grumble behind the scenes that they are not getting enough attention, but the New York Times story features particularly aggressive and open Democratic friendly fire -- and from high places, including Reid.
Reid’s office is not quoted on the record in the article, and so far the Nevada Democrat has not made any public effort to cover for the president of his party.
Other Democrats, Sen. Angus King (D-MA), Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CN) appeared comfortable going on the record to question Obama’s relationship with Congress.
Only Sen. Dick Durbin (R-IL) defended Obama for the article, noting that he would never be a “creature of Washington.”