This is one of the most pivotal weeks in Harry Reid’s personal life, not to mention his congressional career.
How he handles Monday’s complex surgery to rebuild a crushed orbital socket and remove pools of blood behind and in front of his right eyeball will not only determine whether the Nevadan regains the vision he lost earlier this month in a freakish exercising mishap. His recovery’s pace and comprehensiveness also will help decide how long he remains the top Senate Democrat and his ability to seek re-election next year.
The senator is setting high expectations for his recuperation, his place in the Capitol power structure and his political fortunes back home.
At a news conference four days before the operation — meticulously planned so Reid might appear as robust and engaged as possible — he boasted of his medical team’s prognosis that “there’s no reason I can’t come back to work” on Feb. 2, after a single week of post-operative healing. He moved to dispel the impression he’s been compelled by pain or partial blindness to relinquish any substantive aspects of his leadership portfolio, offering, “There’s been no surprises for me.” And he asserted that his injuries had not altered his plans for 2016, declaring, “At this stage, I’m fully intending to run.”
Still, the number of warning signs and unanswered questions make plain Reid’s future is not entirely clear on any of those fronts.
Other than the occasionally balky balance that preceded his accident, Reid comes across as a very vigorous 75-year-old — which makes him, at the start of his second decade as Democratic floor leader, the oldest senator ever in the job.