I believe that the truism is If the title of your article is a question, then the answer is invariably ‘No.’ I actually resist this truism: I like to ask questions in titles, because the other use of that stylistic trick is to mildly unnerve the Other Side with a ominous question. However, I think that the answer is in this case is still going to be ‘no:’
Sen. Harry’s Reid’s perfunctory announcement on Friday that he won’t seek re-election next year — leaving a vacancy for leadership of the Senate Democrats — was followed, hours later, by a matter-of-fact statement in an interview with The Washington Post:”I think Schumer should be able to succeed me.”
That would usher in a whirlwind of activity on Capitol Hill in the next year as New York’s senior senator prepares to seize the reins of power — and retool the party as a center-left powerhouse that can win and hold a majority in 2016 and beyond.
…Absent from that article is any suggestion of how. If you look at the current scorecard you’ll see very quickly that the Democrats don’t have nearly as wide-open field as the usual “24/10” talking point might suggest. Right now, the truly competitive races are: five Republican-held, two Democratic. The one vacant seat in those seven is… Harry Reid’s; and it’s a toss-up. The Democrats would have to retain all of their at-risk seats, sweep all the Republican at-risk seats… and then either win one of the Likely R seats as well, or else hope that the Democrats somehow manage to win the Presidential election next year.
Can that happen? Yes… but the CNN article goes on to speculate that Schumer’s strategy – and note that the article is assuming that Chuck Schumer can somehow ‘retool’ Harry Reid’s dysfunctional mess* to win in 2016 when Chuck Schumer isn’t even running the Democratic caucus yet – will be disliked by progressives from the get-go. Probably, sure. But let us assume that Schumer somehow takes power right now, and then goes and gets things done. Under those circumstances, pretty much every Senator on the Lean R list (with the exception of Ron Johnson of Wisconsin) would send Chuck Schumer a fruit basket, for a very basic reason: such a strategy would take a bit of the heat off of them. And since most of them are likely to win anyway…
Progressives are probably seizing on that last paragraph as evidence that yea, indeed, now is the time for a hardcore, take-no-prisoners approach to the Senate. Which is pretty much what Harry Reid was doing, and that didn’t really work out for a lot of Democrats’ long-term careers. Besides: it does not follow that, because Chuck Schumer can’t fix things for the Democrats, progressive activists would do a notably better job. Or, indeed, a better job at all.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Ask the Democratic Senators who abruptly had to leave the Senate under Harry Reid’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader just how functional the man’s policies were. Then ask all the Democratic Congressmen who had the same thing happen to them. And the Democratic governors. And the Democratic state legislators…