Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has replaced House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the poster child for everything conservative commentators and donors love to hate about Democrats.
"I think he's much better than Mrs. Pelosi," Carole Goeas, a Republican fundraiser told The Hill
. "He seems to be front and center much more than Mrs. Pelosi."
GOP fundraisers often used Pelosi as motivation for donors. She was considered an easy target, especially when she held the gavel as House speaker. But her loss of power, when Republicans took control of the House in 2010, left her without the bite that she once had.
Reid "has a lot more power than she does," said Matt Keelen, GOP strategist and former fundraiser. "He's perfect for House Republicans. They can say we passed bills to help the economic situation in the country and the Senate hasn't picked them up."
One Democratic strategist thinks that Reid is attracting fire to himself on purpose.
"I think Harry Reid is trying to replace Nancy Pelosi as the Democrat that Republicans most love to hate," David Di Martino, a former Senate aide, told The Hill. "What you're seeing with Sen. Reid is a frustration that's manifested after years of obstruction that is all fueled by the Koch brothers and the right wing groups that have spent the last six years blocking everything the Democrats want to do."
Reid earned particular ire from Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators earlier this year when he attacked the Koch brothers, calling them "un-American" and saying they are "trying to buy America."
Republicans in Louisiana filed
an ethics complaint against the Senate majority leader this week saying that Reid has violated Senate rules, which say that senators are not supposed to use "official resources for partisan electoral activities."
Following Reid's remarks about the Koch brothers, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough
likened the comments to "McCarthyism" for using his office to single out Americans he disagrees with.
Conservative opinion writer Victor Davis Hanson
used a headline referring to Reid as "a McCarthy for Our Time" for calling Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters "domestic terrorists."
"[Sen. Joe] McCarthy in the 1950s became infamous for smearing his opponents with lurid allegations that he could not prove, while questioning their patriotism," wrote Hanson, whose commentary appeared on the Real Clear Politics website. "Reid has brought back to the Senate that exact same McCarthy style of six decades ago — and trumped it."
Hanson details other "McCarthy style" tactics used by Reid, such as when he accused former presidential candidate Mitt Romney of failing to pay "any taxes for 10 years," and when he essentially called Gen. David Petraeus a liar when he testified before Congress in 2007 about the success of the surge during the Iraq war.
"His lurid, unsubstantiated charges against Romney were helpful in demonizing Romney as a rich grandee," Hanson wrote. "His untruths about Petraeus helped shore up Democrats' antiwar credential during the 2008 campaign."
"Part Tammany Hall-style fixer, part pre-civil rights Democrat and part demagogic Joe McCarthy, Harry Reid is a throwback to a type of American politics left forgotten," he wrote.
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