With a strengthened majority and a Democrat in the White House, Harry Reid expected a fast start off the blocks for the 111th Congress. But the Senate majority leader has found himself, these first days of 2009, stumbling over the handling of the Roland Burris appointment and struggling to respond to the chaos in Minnesota. In an interview with Washington Post, Reid admits that the Burris and Franken episodes have "certainly been a diversion."
Once a police officer at the Capitol, Reid enjoys immense popularity among his Congressional Democratic colleagues, and his behind-the-scenes, dealmaker style—"I'm more Mike Mansfield. I'm not LBJ. I don't twist arms," he says—makes him a key Obama ally. For all his early difficulties, the Nevada senator seems unafraid that he might meet the same fate as his three immediate predecessors as majority leader—Bill Frist, Tom Daschle, and Trent Lott, all of whom fell from grace. "I've got 59 senators now, so I'm not doing too bad," he said.