Reid gets his day

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada spoke before the Senate on Dec. 8, saying farewell to his colleagues and D.C. The same day, a portrait of him in the capitol was unveiled, with Hillary Clinton in attendance, and an essay penned by Reid appeared on the New York Times website. The speech was lengthy and somewhat rambling, taking about 80 minutes and filled with praise for both Republicans and Democrats; the essay was short, warning Republicans not to misinterpret their mandate by ignoring health care and defending filibuster changes that let both parties get votes for presidential appointments.

“With Republicans holding a slim majority, Democrats have a fighting chance at winning every debate,” he wrote. “To be sure, persuading a majority of the Senate to your side is harder than blocking a confirmation on a procedural vote. But it is also fairer. When Democrats pick their fights next year, they can do so knowing that, win or lose, they will be debating in a Senate that we made more open and more transparent. If Democrats stand for what they believe in, they will find that trusting the courage of their convictions while out of power will empower them to accomplish great things when the pendulum swings back, as it always does.”

Over the course of Reid’s career, U.S. congressional politics has become more polarized and meanspirited, which conservative scholars like Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of American Enterprise Institute have blamed on Republicans. Reid, a favorite of Republicans when he was Democratic whip, became a favorite target of the GOP after becoming Democratic floor leader.

Four days after those ceremonies, the Salt Lake Tribune took the edge off them with a lengthy article exploring a theory by a county prosecutor about Reid’s possible involvement in a long-running Utah scandal known as the Shurtleff/Swallow investigation, named for two former Republican state attorneys general.

Reid will be spending more time in Nevada. He will be feeling his way on how often he will be in D.C. Most of his family is in the West.

Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto will replace Reid in the Senate.