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Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are, Mr. Reid

The White House and Tim Geithner aren’t smelling like roses in the AIG mess. So how are the Democratic leaders in Congress holding up? We see these companion headlines over at Politico: “Don’t blame me on AIG, Pelosi says” and “Reid Avoids AIG Blame Game.” You might think from the latter that Harry Reid is being a stand-up guy and not shifting blame to others. Well, he’s actually just plain avoiding the whole thing:

In a Thursday afternoon news conference, Reid said he wasn’t going to answer any questions about why a provision was included in the stimulus package allowing for AIG bonuses. He referred questions about the matter to Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.

“We need to finish this AIG thing, but the Republicans won’t let us, and that’s too bad,” Reid said.

Republicans are pounding Reid today for what they say is his silence on the affair.

“Sen. Reid appointed himself to the conference committee that changed this bill behind closed doors and ensured that AIG executives could receive their bonuses. However, unlike his colleague Sen. Dodd, who admitted his involvement yesterday, Sen. Reid has stayed silent about his role in this process,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson.

Reid today was clear on where he stood: Let’s move on already.

“I not only don’t want to talk about it, I’m not going to,” he snapped at one reporter.

This is an illustration of why real bipartisanship pays off. Yes, sometimes you get “better ideas” when everyone is working together. But the real reason, the political reason for it, is that if you shut out the other side, ram things home in secret, don’t put legislation up on the internet for a reasonable amount of time, and admit none of your members have read it, then it gets dicey when, lo and behold, there turns out to be a bunch of embarrassing junk in there.

But on a more straightforward note, Reid owes his constituents and the rest of the country some answers about what he knew and agreed to with regard to the bonuses. Chris Dodd has walked the plank, Treasury Secretary Geithner is struggling to relate his tale, and the president is going to have to get his story squared away before the next press conference. It doesn’t quite seem right that the Majority Leader gets a pass. And he may have a perfectly good explanation for his role in all this —  which I’m sure he’ll share with us. If the media can corner him.



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