The attention Harry Reid is getting for his 2008 comments about candidate Obama seems to defy the old adage that all publicity is good publicity. Even as he is forgiven by Obama, rallied around by his congressional soulmates, and excused by the usual suspects from the racial grievance industry, Reid's public image continues to sink like a stone.
Racial insensitivity aside, people have got to be asking the same question about Reid that I ask myself every time I see Robert Gibbs....can't we, as a nation, do better?
Don't do anything rash, Democrats. We like Harry Reid right where he is....at least for ten more months. Besides, he's hoping to get the benefit of the doubt that he has been unwilling to grant so many others in his long history of racial posturing. He doesn't cut a sympathetic figure for either side. Is there any question now that many Democrats wish Reid would do a "Dodd", and go away so they'd have a chance to save his Senate seat in November for the party?
I don't think I'm departing much from conservative talking points when I say I didn't think what Reid said was particularly insensitive. He made a candid observation about the candidate's electability, which lots of people did and still do agree with. I found the quote from Game Change attributed to Bill Clinton to be far more insulting and objectionable than what Reid said, and I'm a little surprised more people haven't reacted to that.
In the same way, I suppose, that black rappers are cool to use the n-word in their songs and videos without causing offense, I guess the first black President is permitted to say things like "a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee", and get only a ripple of criticism.
Much of the punditry and blogging on the right seems content to go easy on the outrage over Reid's remarks and focus instead on the obvious double standard...that, and on watching Reid squirm.
Of course the Trent Lott comparisons were inevitable, but Reid's remarks don't, as they say, rise to the level. Even in the context of a speech honoring the 100th birthday of a reformed Dixiecrat, Lott's suggestion that a segregationist President would have been a good thing for America got him rightly hounded out of a GOP leadership position. Reid's stumble over the English language doesn't really come close.
Still the double standard jumps out and grabs you, and it should not go unremarked upon. One need only imagine a conservative office holder saying what Reid said...let alone what Clinton said...to envision the left with their hair on fire demanding resignations, just as they did with Trent Lott, and with the manufactured quotes they used to try to smear Rush Limbaugh.
Obama and the Democrats make no bones about admitting that Reid and Clinton are treated differently because they are political allies. Their positions on matters of "social justice" are, as Obama arrogantly claimed today, "on the right side of history".
Clearly the debate we should be having would include talking about that history....especially as it involves the Democratic Party. Here are a couple of good pieces on the problematic history of Democrats on matters of race...
The Democrats' Missing History
The Democratic Party's Legacy of Racism - Mackubin Owens - 2002
(via Dr. Sanity)
Then the debate could move on to a discussion of how well current Democratic policies on race...(racial preferences, racial quotas, disparate impact laws, opposition to school choice..) actually serve the long term interests of blacks in America, as opposed to just serving the interests of Democratic politicians. That would be a conversation on race worth having.
I trust that one day enough American blacks will recognize the condescension and "the soft bigotry of low expectations" for what they are, and will fight back in sufficient numbers against the implicit Democratic Party statement about them that they are unable to compete with the rest of society on a playing field that is not tilted in their favor by government. Polls show that they already reject the misguided policy of employing official government-enforced racial discrimination as the solution to the problem of racial discrimination. Till then...
John McWhorter asks "What's wrong with 'Negro' anyway?"
And Ward Connerly's column is full of straight talk and good sense...like this...
It's certainly true that racial incidents are not all created equal. What one individual finds offensive may not be to another. Thus, the words of Mr. Lott may have been more insensitive to some than the comments of Mr. Reid. Nonetheless, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the spirit of forgiveness is universalâ€”except when it comes to conservatives.
For my part, I am having a difficult time determining what it was that Mr. Reid said that was so offensive.
Was it because he suggested that lighter-skinned blacks fare better in American life than their darker brothers and sisters? If so, ask blacks whether they find this to be true. Even the lighter-skinned ones, if they are honest with themselves, will agree that there is a different level of acceptance.
Was it because he used the politically incorrect term "negro"? If so, it should be noted that there are many blacks of my generation who continue to embrace this term. In fact, "negro" is an option along with "black" and "African-American" on the 2010 Census.
Was it because he implied that Mr. Obama might be cut some political slack because of his oratorical skills or his looks? If so, that fact was not harmful to Joe Biden, who was elected vice president after praising Mr. Obama as "articulate" and "clean-looking."
Or, finally, could it be viewed as offensive that Mr. Reid suggested that blacks often have a distinctive way of speaking? If that is, indeed, the offense, then I will offend a lot of individuals when I assert that I can tell in probably 90% of the cases whether an individual is black merely by talking to him on the telephone.
And on that double standard...well, Victor Davis Hanson is a gifted wordsmith. Let him tell it...
The Strange Thing About Nemesisâ€¦
â€¦is that the deity picks its victims on the basis of irony and arrogance. For every media-frenzy about ethical lapses of columnist Armstrong Williams taking Bush administration money for hawking No Child Left Behind, there is a Jonathan Gruber, the MIT go-to pundit on health care, who raked in $400,000 from the Obama administration for â€¦ hawking ObamaCare.
For every racially insensitive Trent Lott, Senate party leader, there is a racially insensitive Harry Reid, Senate party leader. For every illegitimacy story about Levi Johnston and Sarah Palinâ€™s daughter, there is a John Edwardsâ€™ love child. For every supposed Bush fabrication, there is Barack Obama on You Tube swearing he will air all the health care debate on C-SPAN (sort of like his old public campaign financing promises, or closing Gitmo within a year, or getting out of Iraq by March, 2008, or â€¦).
But, of course, by now you readers protest!â€” why havenâ€™t we heard of Gruber, why did the media go easy for so long on Edwards (and his complicit wife), why is Harry Reid still majority leader?
The answer is that those on the left are moralists, smarter people who pass up their own personal agendas to help the community. They think of society, not self, and so when they err, they do it under stress, in accidental fashion, and with no lasting significance â€” not like their selfish Neanderthal cousin conservatives, for whom transgression is a valuable window into their flawed souls. Bushisms became a media pastime, but no one suggests that a president who says Cinco de Quatro, or 57 states, or references the â€œAustrianâ€ language is a Dan Quayle wrestling with potato.
Read it all.