Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and Post Mortems

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and Post Mortems

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan…

John F. Kennedy

Defeat has to be blamed on someone else. Obama is blaming the Dems for not letting him campaign and Harry Reid is blaming Obama for not giving them the cash they asked for.

Republicans have complained for years that Senate Democrats tried to protect President Barack Obama and themselves by stopping bills that make Democrats uncomfortable. That has led to a senate that spent many weeks during the last four years voting on nothing but lower-level judgeships.  Given that was something Harry Reid’s apparently went along with willingly, who is responsible for the gridlock, the Senate Majority Leader, or the President he protected?  Reid has been a key player in halting debate about President Obama’s agenda.  Ever since Republicans took over the House and replaced Nancy Pelosi, they have been passing bills, hundreds of bills, and passing them along to the Senate.  No votes, no discussion nothing that Harry Reid did not want Democrat senators or Obama to be accountable for by an up or down vote.

And what was all that fund raising about? Apparently Obama has been fundraising with his millionaire and billionaire friends  fundraises for his own agenda, while the Dems tried to  convince him to scale down his own permanent campaign so they could raise money.  If I were a big time Democrat donor, I would feel cheated today.

A press meeting today offered little in the way of solutions.  It sounded like President Obama was saying that something could be accomplished if the Republicans gave him legislation he wanted to begin with.  The Wave Election notwithstanding, Obama’s promise to act on his own with regard to amnesty stands, even if it means making it impossible to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

President Obama and the White House have argued for months the 2014 midterms are not a referendum on his policies or messaging strategy.  That doesn’t seem to be playing well in the media.

This past Sunday, two days before Election Day, Krone sat at a mahogany conference table in the majority leader’s stately suite just off the Senate floor and shared with Washington Post reporters his notes of White House meetings. Reid’s top aide wanted to show just how difficult he thought it had been to work with the White House.

With Democrats under assault from Republican super-PAC ads, Reid and his lieutenants, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), went to the Oval Office on March 4 to ask Obama for help. They wanted him to transfer millions of dollars from the Democratic National Committee to the DSCC, a relatively routine transaction.

Beyond that, they had a more provocative request — they wanted Obama to help raise money for the Senate Majority PAC, an outside group run by former Reid advisers.

Despite his deep aversion to super PACs, Obama in early 2012 reluctantly sanctioned Priorities USA, a super PAC set up to back his reelection, and allowed White House and campaign officials to appear at the group’s fundraisers. But Reid and Senate Democrats thought the president was not giving the same level of support for Senate Majority PAC.

Lawyers negotiated for months over legal minutia, with Obama’s counselors insisting that the president appear only as a guest and do no donor solicitation, which would have violated federal law. After Obama appeared at two Senate Majority PAC events — June 17 in New York and July 22 in Seattle — the president’s lawyers demanded that no staffer follow up with the donors for at least seven days.

These contingencies were so strict, Krone argued, that it would be fruitless to involve the president at all. “They were setting the rules as they saw fit,” he said. “For some reason, they hid behind a lot of legal issues.”

The White House maintains that it was prudent in protecting the presidency and avoid any appearances of a quid pro quo. The senior White House official voiced displeasure with Senate Majority PAC’s methods: “They were calling Obama donors who we had long relationships with and making asks that annoyed the donors.”

The disagreements underscored a long-held contention on Capitol Hill that Obama’s political operation functioned purely for the president’s benefit and not for his party’s, although Obama allies note that the president shared with the Senate campaigns his massive lists of volunteer data and supporters’ e-mail addresses, considered by his advisers to be sacred documents.

All year, Obama traveled frequently to raise money for the party. On June 17, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough offered to increase Obama’s appearances at DSCC fundraisers and to give donors access to the president through a “Dinner with Barack” contest and high-dollar roundtable discussions.

But Krone said McDonough told him there would be no cash transfer to the DSCC, because the DNC still had to retire its 2012 debt. On Sept. 9, Reid pressured Obama to take out a loan at the DNC to fund a DSCC transfer, Krone said. The DNC did open a line of credit and sent the DSCC a total of $5 million, beginning with $500,000 on Sept. 15 and following with $1.5 million installments on Sept. 30, Oct. 15 and Oct. 24.

“I don’t think that the political team at the White House truly was up to speed and up to par doing what needed to get done,” Krone said.

The feeling about Krone in the West Wing was mutual. Although married to Alyssa Mastromonaco, one of Obama’s closest aides until she left in May, Krone was seen as an antagonist. He acknowledged that was his prescribed part: “Guy [Cecil] could be a good cop, and I was the bad cop.”

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