As I’ve previouisly blogged, Harry Reid set up the “don’t ask, don’t tell” pre-election vote to fail. By refusing to allow a full debate, he ensure united GOP opposition, even though GOP senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Richard Lugar (Ind.) have indicated they would otherwise have voted for repeal, thus denying the GOP its filibuster. GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), John Ensign (Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), among others, are also mentioned as obtainable votes against filibuster and for repeal.
As Kimberly A Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal (full column only available to wsj subscribers):
If Democrats leave town with few or no final victories to tout—if they fail even to protect Americans from tax hikes—they can thank their Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. It was Mr. Reid’s flawed pre-election strategy that landed his party with this undercooked fowl, and his post-election floundering has even his own members worried.
You wouldn’t know this from listening to Mr. Reid, who has laid out a lame-duck agenda that bears no connection to time, reality or election results. According to the Nevadan, Senate Democrats are going to confirm judges, rewrite immigration law, extend unemployment insurance, fix the issue of gays in the military, reorganize the FDA, forestall tax hikes, re-fund the government, and ratify a nuclear arms treaty—all in two, maybe three, weeks. This is the same institution that needs a month to rename a post office.
This legislative pileup is what happens when a majority leader chooses to hijack the Senate—to use it not on behalf of the country, but on behalf of a midterm campaign. The first part of Mr. Reid’s strategy was to introduce legislation specifically designed to rev up a liberal base for the midterm vote. To pep up gay rights activists, the majority leader promised legislation to change the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. To inspire Latino midterm voters, he also embraced the Dream Act, which would offer a path to citizenship for some immigrants.
Part two of Mr. Reid’s strategy: Make sure nothing, including these highlighted bills, then passed. Much of today’s unfinished business is legislation that could have earned GOP support. But the majority leader deliberately included poison pills that would cause Republicans to balk. The entire goal was to tag Republicans with obstructionism, turning off average voters and further inspiring the base.
The strategy didn’t work, and by putting politics above all else, we’re likely to pay the price for a long time indeed.