[O]ver the last 12 years, Reid has increasingly leaned on his pugnacious side as he picked often personally bitter fights with Republicans. And as Reid became increasingly consumed with fighting first President George W. Bush, then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and then Mitt Romney, his conference — and the Senate — followed suit.
At the behest of the White House, Reid used his political muscle to force through Obamacare with virtually no Republican support, eschewing the time honored traditions of the chamber.
Following the 2010 rise of the Tea Party, legislating essentially came to an end in the Senate, which held fewer and fewer votes as partisan warfare took hold. Then, Reid spent most of 2012 using the Senate as a platform to wage war against Romney and any Republican who happened to be in his way.
And, again, the chamber followed suit. Aside from a bipartisan immigration bill that died in the House, the Senate essentially ground to a halt. Days, weeks would go by between procedural votes as Republicans filibustered virtually anything Reid put on the floor.
True, Reid had plenty of help from Republicans. Immediately following President Obama’s election, McConnell and other top Republicans vowed to blockade anything the new president sought to pass. And when Republicans retook the House in 2010, conservatives insisted on a brand of confrontational politics that essentially precluded the notion of compromise.
But Reid’s role in transforming the Senate into a partisan Thunderdome is all the more remarkable because of his past devotion to the institution’s rules and social mores. Last year, the same man who railed against former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for considering changing the filibuster rules and who bitterly criticized Bush’s use of signing statements and executive orders, suddenly championed not only the end of filibusters for most nominations but President Obama’s use of executive power in the absence of congressional action.