Max Baucus: God’s 2nd-Greatest Gift to Harry Reid

The Lord has been kind to Senate majority leader Harry Reid lately. First, John Ensign, his fellow senator from Nevada and a Republican, got caught having an affair with a staffer. Then it was revealed that Ensign’s parents gave the staffer’s family nearly $100,000 as part of a “pattern of generosity.” That distracted the Nevada media from Reid, who has a tough reelection battle coming up in 2010. Lately, another of Reid’s colleagues has been helping him out: Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. With Baucus enraging the left by reaching out to Republicans to put together a deal (or not) on health care reform, liberals have less energy for a once-popular pasttime: slamming Reid. The left used to obsess about getting Reid out of his leadership post. Now all the talk is about dumping Baucus from his chairmanship.

Meanwhile, the White House has been lending Reid a hand by making moves that could delay or cancel the proposed nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain, which is extremely unpopular with Nevadans. Reid has also stayed out of Nate Silver’s list of the 10 Senate seats most likely to change hands in the 2010 elections, as prominent Republicans have decided not to run against him. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of Reid’s war chest. He raised $3.25 million between April and June, has $7.33 million in cash on hand, and aims to have raised $25 million by next November. With the media distracted by Ensign, the White House boosting his cause, Republicans shying away from the race, the blame for the health care mess falling on Baucus, and the coffers filling up, it’s been a good month for the majority leader.