The sitting President is usually the titular leader of his party. This role can diminish late in a second-term, when possible successors take the national stage. President Obama, it seems, however, has been dethroned early, just months after having won reelection. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling the shots for Democrats on the epic political fight over the government shutdown and debt ceiling increase. Obama is almost a bystander.
The Hill reports, “Reid is now fully in charge of his party’s negotiating strategy, a significant change from past showdowns with Republicans.” Worse, for President Obama, “[t]his is a welcome change for Democrats who thought Obama was too accommodating to Republicans during previous crises.”
A couple weeks ago, Sen. Reid even forced the White House to cancel planned negotiations with Congressional leaders. Democrats privately feared that Obama would be open to compromise with Republicans. Senate Democrats, especially, led by former amateur boxer Reid, want a much more combative stance against Republican proposals.
If the White House continues to abdicate its leadership to Sen. Reid, it is hard to see how this issue can be resolved before the nation hits its statutory debt limit. He has gone all-in with the full faith and credit of the United States and is betting that the media will pressure Republicans to fold.