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Daschle slams Reid's Senate as dysfunctional

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is about to take some unwelcome friendly fire from former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle who uses his new textbook on the Senate to slam the chamber he left in 2005 as a poor example for emerging democracies.

"If we're the standard by which other Democracies and republics judge themselves, we've lowered the bar," he writes in The U.S. Senate, adding, "it's vital for us to do a better job than we're doing today, and that must begin, as much as anywhere, in the Senate."

Daschle's book, provided to Secrets and set to publish in January, is an in-depth and well-researched explainer on how the Senate works. But it also includes several chapters on how the chamber has become much more partisan, graceless and white since he was ousted from his South Dakota seat by Sen. John Thune, a riser in GOP leadership.

One chapter is simply called "The Senate's Slide."

While he doesn't name names, he urges Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take a page out of his majority leadership days and build relationships. "You've got to keep trying," he wrote. "Sometimes it required me to walk over to the Republican leader's office, and visa versa. Those leadership offices are only about 50 yards apart, but it's one of the longest walks you'll ever take."

While Reid is often seen at war with McConnell, Daschle bragged that his outreach worked. "I worked with three Republican leaders: Trent Lott, Bob Dole, and Bill Frist. And with each one, I would call it a good working relationship, in spite of our differences." In a demand pointed at Reid, he added: "For today's Senate majority party, working with the minority party is essential."

His other problems with the Senate: it lacks compromise; is led by generalists who lack command of issues like health care; and needs more racial diversity.

Overall, he threw the Senate in with the general dysfunction of government. "The more our government grows dysfunctional and incapable of addressing these serious problems, the more the quality of life in America--and the vision of what America can be--suffers," he wrote.