All sorts of people, several I’d never have suspected of being quite so racially sensitive, gleefully piled onto Harry Reid yesterday taking advantage of the scandalous revelation in Game Change, a new book about the 2008 presidential election contest, that Reid had expressed the opinion that Obama was electable because he was “light-skinned” with “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
“Negro” was suddenly discovered to be a vulgar and nasty pejorative, off limits in respectable society. And GOP Chairman (and opportunistic African-American) Michael Steele promptly called for Reid’s resignation from his Senate leadership post on grounds of PC taboo violation.
David Horowitz had the decency to express disgust.
[It’s] hard not to bathe in schadenfreude at the hammering [Harry Reid] is now getting over an interview he gave to John Heilemann and Mark Haperin during 2008 for their new book… But it is also hard not to be disgusted by the politically correct sanctimony of Republicans like the RNCâ€™s Michael Steele who are acting as if they just caught the Nevada senator in a Klan costume.
â€œNegroâ€ is the new n-word now? And is it not true that Obamaâ€™s light skin color and the half-white background that produced it was indeed an electoral asset? And didnâ€™t the ability to talk like a brother as well as a Harvard grad sharpen the Presidentâ€™s ineffable hipness and post-racial appeal? Can the lexicon of the politically taboo have become such a fat book as this?
Instead of standing back with folded arms and watch the Democrats wallow in the squalor they created by forcing Reid to grovel for redemption from Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, the execrable Cong. Barbara Lee, and other race hustlers, Steele has demanded a leading role in this nasty spectacle. He says that the situation Reid created is similar to the one in 2002 when Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott was forced out of his leadership position for praising Strom Thurmond. Right. No doubt about it. But it was also the Republicans, cowering under the Democrats ludicrous charges of â€œracism,â€ who caved and forced Lott out. And while there is obviously a gleeful temptation to require Reid and the Democrats to endure the same standards now that took Lott down back then, Steele and the Republicans are taking the shabby way out again. If they donâ€™t know that getting leverage by calling an opponent a racist (a term like â€œMcCarthyite,â€ which no longer describes a pathology but is no more than a way of stigmatizing someone on the cheap) debases our political culture, who does? How many times have they been hit over the head with this charge? How can they not know that this is a game in which Republicans might score a run now and then but can never win. Nobody beats the Democrats at race-baiting!
By pointedly not doing to Reid what was done to Lott and making it into one of those â€œteachable momentsâ€ our President likes to talk about, Steele could have done the country a service. Instead, he supported a status quo in our politics in which the race card is always the first one dealt and always from the bottom of the deck.
Patterico favors proceeding with the un-PC hunt, pointing out how often Harry Reid has played this game himself.
My own favorite example of Reid playing the race card occurred this fall, when Reid compared congressional Republican opposition to healthcare to the 19th-century debate over slavery.
You can’t resign from being a former president, so William Jefferson Clinton will have to be allowed to get away with revealing his true racial perspective to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, remarking upon the incongruity of the upstart Obama challenging Mrs. Clinton for the democrat party nomination by noting: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (who resigned after trying to sell Obama’s senate seat) chimed in, too, with the following comparison.
I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.”