Opinion: The moment Harry Reid went up against the establishment – Henry’s Club

“I had the strangest conversations with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer,” he told me, fresh from a meeting with US Senate Democratic leaders. “I didn’t know why they were calling me there. Turns out they wanted to tell me that I should run for president. ,

Reid, then-Senate Minority Leader, argued that, unlike the presumptive frontrunner—Hillary Clinton—Obama was unopposed by a vote for the unpopular war in Iraq, an albatross leader fearing it would overwhelm him and some of his party’s Senate. will do it. Candidates will be fielded. in undertaking. Far from seeing Obama’s newness in Washington, D.C. as an obstacle, Reid, who had served there for more than 20 years, argued that the young senator’s freshness would be an asset to a country hungry for change.

“It pushed me too hard to think about it,” Obama told me, still absorbing the full meaning of what had happened. “I still think it’s too far-fetched, but it’s interesting that they felt it as strongly as they do.”

I can’t say that the idea of ​​Obama running for president would never have come up without Reid’s quiet encouragement that spring. But I can say with certainty that their conversation made a deep impression on the young senator, who knew that Reed had not fought his way through Nevada politics and the ranks of the US Senate by making reckless bets. ,

The fact that the leader would undermine the establishment of the party by sowing the seeds of rebellion, of which he was a part, was an unexpected turning point that was seriously considered.

The more different they looked, the more a tremendous bond developed between the less educated reads – who died tuesday After a long battle with pancreatic cancer – at age 82 – and helping the charismatic young president move on. Reed’s improbable rise from harsh beginnings in the small brothel town of Searchlight, Nevada, was the stuff of legend, and he saw in Obama as someone who was able to overcome his hardships as well as the unimaginable racial barriers. Was. To achieve heights.
After the 2008 election, Reid, then-Senate Majority Leader, sat with President-elect Obama. a Award winner in his youthReid said one thing while remembering his days in the ring. “I wasn’t the fastest guy. I wasn’t the strongest. But I sure could have hit a punch!”
And he would kick and throw many punches for Obama’s agenda. Along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reid’s perseverance helped deliver the Affordable Care Act after an epic battle, a feat that that she said It had special meaning for him as he had seen uninsured family members and neighbors suffer in his life.
“I felt tremendous pressure to do it. And grew up in a way that I had no health care, my mother didn’t have teeth, we didn’t go to the doctors… It was one of the historic pieces of the law.” It was in the history of this country.” he told me in 2019,

But if Reid, who served as Democratic leader for 12 years, was a point man for his presidency, he may have been a tough man to shield his caucus members from unnecessarily risky votes. He was also a realist.

He called me in the early summer of 2009 and wanted to talk about a cap-and-trade bill that we passed through the US House of Representatives to reduce carbon emissions that were accelerating climate change . The bill was controversial in energy-producing states, and the House vote was overwhelming. We were now expecting a vote in the Senate, which we knew would be even more challenging.

“You know we have a lot going on here this summer, what we have to do with health care bills and a lot of other things,” Reid said. “So we’re not going to go over the climate bill.” he stayed. “Will you tell the President?” At that point, the line ended, thus ending every telephone conversation with the leader.

“I am not much for small talk. The conversation was over; we had done our business. There is no need to talk anymore,” he explained to me in 2019 when I told him about it without any further ado. Told in. Asked about his great habit of finishing. Said goodbye

During those years, Reid regularly clashed with Mitch McConnell, who, as Senate Republican leader, led a staunch opposition to Obama, including shameless decision To block the Senate for the better part of the president’s final year from taking up Merrick Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

When I last sat down with Reid for “The X Files,” Reid had a lot to say about that blockade, yet he avoided making it personal. A proud and fierce partisan, he was also a man of the institution. At the end of his life, he was not going to accuse his longtime adversary.

“I know Mitch McConnell very well, and I’m not going to offend him here today,” They said, “But I am somewhat disappointed. I think what he did with the Supreme Court will go down in history as a very dark time in the history of this country.

Reid was a rare figure in today’s politics. An outspoken person, allergic to flowery rhetoric and demonstrative politics; Relentless in pursuit of legislative and electoral victories – even ruthless, but imbued with time-honored truthfulness and ideals, which he held fast to the end.

And he was very proud of his partnership with the 44th President.

On the final leg of Obama’s final campaign in 2012, we made a stop for a rally in Las Vegas. Reid requested a minute to ask Obama to cut the ad for Democratic Senate candidate Mazi Hirono in Hawaii. But after he asked, the leader suddenly arrived and hugged the President, a physical display and affection that took us by surprise. Then he suddenly turned and Reed went on without a word like a phone call.

In 2019, I asked him about that moment and his relationship with the President for whom he had made such a difference.

“Well, I don’t hesitate to say this on the show, I don’t care who’s listening and it’s something I don’t throw up very often, but I love Barack Obama, I really do” they told me. “No one else can do what he did.”

Back to you, Sean Reed. God rest your soul. And may your remarkable memory always remain a blessing.