Here’s footage of Lefty Rosenthal’s rant about Harry Reid, a barely fictionalized version of which was portrayed in the Martin Scorsese classic Casino:
This thread by his former aide Adam Jentleson is a good summary of what made him a giant as Senate Majority Leader:
On the worst days, Reid would get absolutely flayed. I would come in feeling like I’d failed. And he would just laugh. Not like, a laughing-on-the-outside-while-crying-on-the-inside kinda thing. Like: hearing about his bad press at the end of the bad day would *improve* his mood.— Adam Jentleson 🎈 (@AJentleson) June 28, 2021
He shunned the DC scene. In his four decades in Congress I think he went to the WH correspondents’ dinner once, as a favor to his son who was trying to impress a date. He lived in the Ritz – never apologized for it, he earned it – but wouldn’t even go to events held there.— Adam Jentleson 🎈 (@AJentleson) June 28, 2021
In the press office, we dutifully compiled massive clips documents every day but he wouldn’t read them. We joked that the “Reid surround sound” option was to get stories in NPR & the PBS NewsHour, because that was the news he consumed, and the only way we could be sure he saw it.— Adam Jentleson 🎈 (@AJentleson) June 28, 2021
It’s becoming more widely accepted what a titanic achievement the ACA was. Particularly at the time, there was an understandable but ahsitorical and misleading tendency to judge Obama/Reid/Pelosi by a baseline of European universal healthcare rather than past expansions of the American welfare state given the immense structural constraints. But to put Reid’s work into the proper context, let us remember that each and every one of these senators had a veto over the bill:
Max Baucus D Mont.
Evan Bayh D Ind.
Robert C. Byrd D W.Va
Kent Conrad D N.D.
Byron L. Dorgan D N.D.
Kay Hagan D N.C.
Tim Johnson D S.D.
Mary L. Landrieu D La.
Joseph I. Lieberman ID Conn.
Blanche Lincoln D Ark.
Claire McCaskill D Mo.
Ben Nelson D Neb.
Mark Pryor D Ark.
John D. Rockefeller IV D W.Va.
Jon Tester D Mont.
Jim Webb D Va.
What’s amazing is not that they got more, but that they got as much as they did.
It should also be remembered that going nuclear over federal judicial and executive branch nominations is one of the precious few times that Senate Democrats have actually gotten the jump on Republican procedural envelope-pushing. (And, evidently, anyone who thinks that Mitch McConnell would have allowed a Supreme Court seat to remain vacant for 4 years had Reid not done it is an abject moron.) If only Senate Dems would heed his wisdom about killing the filibuster. R.I.P.