Will Real Senate Leaders Please Stand Up?

Kennedy's death left a void—and no one is stepping up to fill it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 10:53 AM CDT
Harry Reid, center, standing with Christopher Dodd and John Kerry, makes a statement on the health of Edward Kennedy on Capitol Hill, May 20, 2008. Without Kennedy, the Senate is short on leaders.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – As Democrats fight among themselves over health care, it’s becoming painfully clear that they lack a clear public leader on the issue, writes Manu Raju for Politico. In part it’s because, with a number of House and Senate committees involved, there are too many cooks stirring the pot, and in part because there’s no Ted Kennedy-esque figure who commands respect. Liberals distrust Max Baucus; Chris Dodd, who stepped in for Kennedy and drafted a competing bill, is more focused on financial reform.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, has largely left the Senate to its own devices. “It’s pretty hard to lead the Senate if you don’t get leadership out of the White House,” says Judd Gregg. Harry Reid, facing a tough 2010 race, has stayed in the background, but some say he’ll step up when it’s time to reconcile the Dodd and Baucus bills. “Once committees are out, then Harry Reid will lead,” said Sherrod Brown. “I’m not concerned.”