Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 | 7:10 p.m.
When Sen. Harry Reid joined members of the Capitol press corps to bid a fond adieu to his outgoing communications chief Friday, the jovial jabs they traded yielded a little insider’s peek at each one’s professional foibles and what kind of friendly fire apparently flies through Reid’s press office.
Reid, Capitol Hill reporters and a bipartisan handful of press secretaries gathered to roast and toast communications director Jim Manley’s departure.
The atmosphere was a lighthearted one, in which reporters thanked Manley for frequently translating between what Reid says and what he means to say, and Reid thanked Manley for all the times when “interviews that are off the record became on the record.”
Manley has headed up Reid’s press shop since Nevada’s senior senator took over as top Democrat in the Senate in 2004.
Prior to that, he worked for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts for eleven years and Sen. George Mitchell before that, making him one of the most — if not the most — seasoned of all the press secretaries in Congress.
His successor is former Deputy Communications Director Jon Summers, who will be working alongside longtime communications director to Sen. Chuck Schumer, Brian Fallon, in the newly-fashioned Democratic Policy and Communications Center.
Reid’s office announced in November that Manley would be leaving Capitol Hill at the end of the 111th Congress, but his departure was clouded by the passing of his father in mid-December, when Congress was still in full swing with the lame duck period. Manley has not yet determined where he’ll work next, but after two decades of service on Capitol Hill, the first stop is a vacation. Suffice it to say that after that much time managing communications affairs for influential lawmakers, he’s being wooed by many firms in and around Washington.
“He’s really been more than just a person on my staff,” Reid said. “I will always have a place in my heart and my head for Jim Manley.”
Manley, too, had high praise for his now-former boss.
“He honestly and truly is the real master of the Senate,” Manley said. “L.B.J. may have gotten all the fame and the Robert Carroll book, but Sen. Reid, like I said, has demonstrated that he’s the real master of the Senate. Maybe he didn’t quite use the swear words that L.B.J. did, but he knows how to get things done.”