In a New York Times piece meant to portray ailing Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid as still in command while holed-up in “a well-appointed one-bedroom condominium at the Ritz-Carlton on M Street,” it’s revealed that when given the opportunity, Reid declined to suggest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that he cancel his planned speech before Congress at the invite of Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
He made time on Wednesday for a call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who was looking for Mr. Reid’s blessing to deliver a speech to Congress in March. The speaking invitation, arranged by Speaker John A. Boehner, has infuriated the White House and congressional Democrats and could be hurting Mr. Netanyahu’s cause with lawmakers.
Mr. Reid sternly but politely told the prime minister — who said he had been advised that Mr. Reid was a “mensch” — as much. But he did not tell the prime minister to cancel the speech.
“I didn’t feel that would be appropriate,” he said. “That’s a decision he has to make.”
Unable to make it to the Senate, Reid appears to be conducting business from his condo. Some of his comments don’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of his fellow Democrats in the Senate, either. One would think they might be able to get along without him but not in Reid’s view, it seems.
Some of the biggest decisions in Washington these days are being made not at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, but in a well-appointed one-bedroom condominium at the Ritz-Carlton on M Street.
From there, Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate’s battered Democratic leader, is conducting foreign and domestic policy while he recovers from a vicious exercise accident that left the sight in one eye imperiled and bones in his face shattered. His right eye was so filled with blood that he underwent extensive surgery on Monday to drain it and have some of the facial bones repaired. The eye may need to be drained again in a second procedure, doctors told him. But he said his vision was returning.
In addition, some Democrats, including Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who is filling in on the floor for Mr. Reid, were initially worried about pushing back too hard against the new Republican majority for fear of being branded with the obstructionist label they applied to Republicans for so long.
“It’s important I get back,” he said. “You need someone to be able to say no. That’s the hardest thing to do, you know.”
As the first month of the new Congress draws to a close, Mr. Reid said he believed that Democrats were becoming more comfortable with their role — one he hopes is temporary — as a cooperative minority party in the Senate. Democrats made their points on the Keystone bill, he said, but still allowed it to progress without employing all the delaying tactics at their disposal.