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The Mostly Silent Majority

Harry Reid evidently subscribes to the maxim that freshman senators, like children, should be seen but not heard.

The wiry Senate majority leader, now sitting on a fat majority, took his newly elected senators out for some show and tell this afternoon in front of the television lights. But to the bafflement of the 200 or so journalists waiting outside the Senate chamber for the big moment, Reid did not let any of the six senators-elect speak. He did not even introduce
them. They merely stood silently behind him as Reid delivered a brief speech about himself.

"Having been the majority leader for the last two years, many times with no majority, this is an exciting time for me," the majority leader said. "I'm so excited, so pleased and so happy to have a real majority now. We've just had a nice visit in my office. We exchanged a few pleasantries about the campaign."

Reid's entire 144-word statement, start to finish, lasted 51 seconds.

The Democratic senators-elect -- Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Mark Warner of Virginia, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and cousins Tom Udall of New Mexico and Mark Udall of Colorado -- entered obediently in a two-by-two Noah's-Ark-style procession, stood behind Reid in the doorway, then removed themselves as soon as Reid finished. They, like their leader, ignored all the questions shouted at them about a bailout for the auto industry.

Why so shy? Maybe it's because, as Republicans pointed out, five of the six freshman Democratic senators opposed the initial bailout bill Congress passed.

Things weren't much looser out in Chicago, where Obama received his vanquished opponent, John McCain. Here is the full transcript of Obama's remarks:

QUESTION: Can we ask you what the goal is for the meeting beyond symbolic?

OBAMA: Just going to have a good conversation about how we can work together to fix up the country and -- and also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered.

QUESTION: Senator, it was a tough campaign...


OBAMA: All right, we're not -- we're not going to do a long one.

STAFF: Thanks, guys.

OBAMA: Thanks, guys.

By Dana Milbank  | November 17, 2008; 3:01 PM ET
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Next: Capitol Punishment


It’s probably for the best that Jean Shaheen keeps her mouth shut, since the last time I heard her speak, from 2002, she was saying: “I stand with President Bush on Iraq and on the tax cuts”.

With Democrats like that, who needs Republicans?

Posted by: Bud0 | November 17, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

With Democrats like that, who needs Republicans?

Posted by: Bud0
I think Dana referencing cereal isles is an interesting point that ties into what your saying.
You ever wonder who makes your cereal?
General Mills.
Why do they make so many kinds of cereals?
So another huge cereal maker can't penetrate the market.
So why are there so many kinds of Democrats?
So they'll be fewer kinds of Republicans.
It's just a thing that makes me go "Hmmmm", don't pay it any mind if your a true believer in either party...but you know...It is kind of a poser, isn't it?

Posted by: dijetlo | November 17, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm a native Nevadan, but I really think Harry Reid needs to step down as majority leader. He has not done a good job. It's time for some new blood in that spot -- Richard Durbin, perhaps?

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | November 17, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Harry Reid should be replaced as Majority leader as well. The past two years he didn't have the backbone to stand up to the Bush White House or the Republican minority. Now, after Joe Lieberman spit in the Democratic Party's face, Harry is letting him keep his chairmanship. Typical Democrat battered wife syndrome. He will manage to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Don't worry Republicans, Harry's at the wheel.

Posted by: ahopewell55 | November 17, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Ried is going to overplay his hand and cause problems for an Obama administration.

Ried is a poor choice for majority leader.

Posted by: wj_phillips | November 17, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

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