Pop quiz: who would you Say is really running the Democrats these days? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? Hillary Clinton? Barack Obama? If you answered any of these three names, you would be wrong, but don’t feel bad. An informal poll done by National Underwriter yielded the same kinds of answers.
The real answer, of course, is New York senator Charles Schumer, who is assuming a larger-than-life role for Democrats as they seek to pull out of the electoral tailspin climaxed by the electoral “shellacking” administered to them last November.
In January, Schumer engineered a coup-d’etat on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s staff reminiscent of events that formerly occurred only in South America and the Middle East.
And, he is now playing a key role in shaping the Democratic position in bipartisan talks aimed at establishing a bipartisan framework for deficit reduction.
In fact, even while President Obama attended a meeting a few weeks ago of the bipartisan group of senators holding the deficit-reduction talks, it was Schumer who articulated the Democrat position while the president silently looked on, according to several sources.
Schumer headed the Democratic senator re-election campaign during the period when the Democrats started picking up Senate seats, but stepped down two years ago in favor of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.,
But that has not slowed Schumer down. Known as a prodigious fundraiser and an aggressive, no-holds-barred advocate, it is to him that the Democrats have turned in their hour of great need. For Schumer, his rise to prominence carries no small burden. In fact, he might just be playing for the highest stakes in his political career to date.
For example, the Republican party picked up 68 seats in the House in the November election, and now have control of the House by the greatest margin since 1928. And, with Democrats having to defend 28 seats in the Senate in 2012, and Republicans only 10, the odds are great that the Republicans will win control of both chambers in 2012. It is up to Schumer to figure out a solution, as improbable as one appears for the Democrats.
But the biggest factor in Schumer’s emergence as a key player in the 2012 electoral battle is broad complaints that Reid and Pelosi have done a poor job in defending Democrats against Republican attacks, especially on the health care bill.