Reid is odd, temperamental, mercurial, obstinate, and rude. He says things that “make you cringe,” as one senator put it. Once, while waiting for President Obama outside the Oval Office, Reid greeted a tall female West Wing staffer by telling her she was his “favorite big woman,” while Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was his “favorite small woman.” Reid quickly “clarified,” telling her he only meant that she was his favorite big woman “at the White House.”

In the Reid regime, the Senate operates more or less at his whim. Members are frequently caught off guard when he decides to bring a bill up for debate. Reid will promise to allow a senator to present an important amendment only to change course at the last minute and claim he never made the promise at all. I asked Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, a top political opponent of Reid who nevertheless speaks highly of the majority leader personally, to describe Reid’s leadership style. He paused, seemingly to think, before answering.

“I’m not sure he has one,” Coburn said.

Coburn is careful with his words. Reid may be unreliable, but he also instills fear in the hearts of Republicans and Democrats alike.