If Reid actually intends to passs DREAM, this was a no-brainer. There was no reason for him to hold the vote today—a vote in which he'd probably get fewer than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Delay offers the hope that something will break in his favor, that the ongoing big negotiations on taxes and spending will offer a moment of leverage to pry a recalcitrant Republican (or, more likely, Democrat) or two over to the DREAM side. At the very least, it offers the prospect that, once the big tax-cut-extension deal is done, Republican senators will consider themselves released from their "Wall of No" pledge not to give any other legislation priority.
If Reid were only interested in Kabuki—that is, if he were just trying to stage a losing vote in order to dramatize GOP opposition to illegal- immigrant amnesty and show Latino voters he tried, as some reporters have suggested*—there might have been an argument for staging the Senate vote right after the DREAM Act passed the House in order to maximize the theatrical contrast.
Perhaps his decision to delay the vote will convince commentators that he and other Democrats aren't in this for the Kabuki. They actually want to pass the DREAM Act—a disaster in my opinion—and they have a shot ...
* "For Reid, failure is actually the point." Maybe not! ... 10:03 a.m.
Live the Legend: Note that Rep. Mike Castle, who lost in the GOP Senate primary in Delaware to Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell, was one of 8 Republicans who defected to the Democrats and voted for the DREAM Act. Maybe the Tea Partiers have a point about his unreliability (from their standpoint) ... 11:12 a.m.