I Don't Think Harry Reid Likes Chuck Schumer Very Much

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It is my position, and the position of many of my Splinter colleagues, that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sucks at his job.


He is particularly notable for making multiple deals with Republicans to allow bundles of Trump-nominated judges a quick vote in exchange for letting his caucus go home early to campaign, even though it would have been remarkably easy to have blue state senators stay in town to slow those nominations while vulnerable senators went home to campaign. He’s also a civility scold, a bipartisanship humper, and weirdly obsessed with gas prices. He has not risen to the challenge that the Trump presidency has posed.

It is with this context that I find this excerpt from Mark Leibovich’s new interview with Harry Reid, the previous Democratic Senate Leader, so amusing. Leibovich reports that Reid has “criticized, privately, Schumer’s instinct for accommodation with both McConnell and Trump,” but it’s what Reid himself said about Schumer in the interview that provides the most chortles:

In our conversation, Reid seemed incapable of not constantly reminding me that he did not wish to talk about Schumer, as if this itself was something he wanted me to emphasize. “I do not call Schumer,” he told me. Then: “I call him once in a while — not weekly. Let’s say monthly I may call him.” This sounded straightforward enough until he added: “I talk to Nancy often. I love Nancy Pelosi. We did so many good things, and we still talk about that.” And just the day before, he said, he called Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who, along with Schumer, was Reid’s top lieutenant in the Senate and is now Schumer’s Democratic whip.

I do not talk to him; on an unrelated note, I do talk to Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin. I wonder if you might put that in your piece. Schumer’s office told the paper the two “have different styles but they complemented each other well. They are still good friends and talk regularly.” (Speaking of Durbin, he told Leibovich that Schumer’s New York-centric approach to Trump “hasn’t worked very well so far.”)

I love this. I love the scathing disrespect, the magnitude of the diss. I’m afraid there’s only one word for it: Shade. It is shade, and it is good.

I wish Schumer was susceptible to being shamed and shaded into being better at his job (though other forms of pressure might be working), but I fear this is not the case. Still, thanks for the laugh, Harry. We wish you well.

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com