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Who Does Harry Reid Think He Is?

by D. E. Carson (writer), , January 12, 2010

Senate Majority Leader needs to vacate the premises and do it in short order.

The book Game Change focuses mainly on the Clintons and the 2008 presidential election. But Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is in the crosshairs of the book as well. The book’s authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann describe a moment during the 2008 election where Reid referred to then candidate Obama as a light-skinned African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted one.”

Today, speaking from Apex, Nevada, Reid said the following:

“I've apologized to the president and said to everyone within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words. I'll continue to do my work for the African-American community ... I'm not going to dwell on this anymore. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.”

But as far as the American people are concerned, the book is not closed. This isn’t something that is just going to go away and the Senator needs to realize this. In fact, it is going to hound him for much of the rest of this year, threatening to undermine his efforts to pass the senate’s health care bill through to the president’s desk. It might also affect his re-election bid later this year.

The standard is a simple one: make a racially offensive comment, lose your job. It happened to Trent Lott in 2002 and it happened to Don Imus in 2006. The only difference between Lott and Imus is that Imus is a private citizen and not a public servant but the repercussions for the comments made by both men were equal: they both lost their jobs. Therefore, the repercussions for Reid’s comment should be of the same severity.

Appearing on Fox News’ Geraldo at Large on Sunday, Al Sharpton had the unmitigated gall to dismiss Reid’s comments saying that there was no way anyone could compare Reid’s comments to Lott’s. Citing Lott’s comment made at the 100th birthday celebration of Senator Strom Thurmond in which Lott said, “If you [Thurmond] had been elected president, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” Sharpton derided Lott’s comments as commensurate with advocating segregation and he did everything he could to ensure that Don Imus was forced off the air from his radio show but he had no problem with Reid’s comments which in reality were far more offensive toward blacks than what Lott said. Interestingly enough, even after Imus met with the Rutgers women’s basketball team and apologized for his comments, Sharpton was relentless in his effort to have Imus removed. The basketball team forgave Imus. Obama forgave Reid. Oh, the sweet hypocrisy.

The simple truth is that Sharpton, the black caucus, and Eric Holder have all come out in support of Reid citing his alleged work on civil rights as their main reason why they don’t believe Reid should leave the senate.

But precedent demands otherwise.

If we as a nation are going to show intolerance for such infractions as steroid use among baseball players and feel the need to strip record holders of their titles for such infractions, then the same standard needs to be applied to public figures who issue racially insensitive statements. The liberal left has set the standard under the heading of Political Correctness”. They stood up and demanded that people have the right to be free of racial insensitivity and began seeking ways to undermine and remove from the public those who cross the PC line. Yet now when it is one of their own who is being measured by the standard set by the left, the left rushes in like water filling a sinking ship to say, “Oh no, that’s not what we meant.”

The truth is that what they meant was that Political Correctness applies only to those who support the right. Political Correctness applies only to those with whom the left disagrees. It is in this way that the left seeks to rid America of the political right and to secure for themselves an uncontested socialist regime within the United States where everyone has the right to everyone else’s stuff by virtue of theft and redistribution versus hard work and sweat equity.

There should be no tolerance of double-standard of any kind. If the left believes that Trent Lott’s comments were out of line and warranted drumming him out of the senate, then Harry Reid’s comments were also out of line and they warrant drumming him out of the senate.

So far, the only reason Reid is getting a pass is because Al Sharpton and the black caucus see Harry Reid as the means to getting socialized health care implemented in America and to them, getting rid of Harry Reid would be like killing the Golden Goose. They saw to what levels Harry Reid would stoop to secure Democrat votes that were not certain – shady deals and bribery among them.

Harry Reid has a history of shooting off his mouth and saying stupid things – like the time he declared the war in Iraq “lost” and the time he called George W. Bush a “loser”. But those were okay because they were directed at one of the most vilified presidents in history. In fact, it seems that when Reid did call Bush a “loser”, he immediately ran to the White House seeking forgiveness from Bush and yet there were no calls from the majority Republicans for Reid to leave the senate.

It should also be pointed out that it was Republicans – including President Bush – who finally pressured Trent Lott into resigning – so much for the idea that Republicans are racially insensitive. But don’t forget, the left was on the Oust Lott band wagon – even driving it most of the way so don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back you leftist liberals.

Reid’s apology to Obama isn’t enough. For someone who claims to have stood on the side of civil rights, Harry Reid’s comment tells a much different story. They tell a story of someone who believes that because he is a liberal he can say things like this and get away with it. He should not be allowed to get away with it. If America is to be a nation where all people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, then Harry Reid needs to resign not only as senate majority leader but resign from the senate as well. Harry Reid has spat in the face of all who have ever stood on the front lines of the civil rights movement all while saying he was in favor of civil rights. He has tarnished his name and is no longer entitled to associate himself with that effort.

Harry Reid must resign.



About the Writer

D. E. Carson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Who Does Harry Reid Think He Is?

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By Lady D on January 13, 2010 at 08:26 pm

We pick these politicians and somehow believe they have more intelligence and possibly enlightenment. So wrong

These elected officials also believe they are better and can get away with with this. Once it is out of your mouth you can't take it back.

He is no different than anyone of us who spouts our fear and hate. May we all wake up.

We have met the enemy and it is us.

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By Jessie_H on January 14, 2010 at 03:44 am

Harry Reid has chosen an inappropriate language and has become proof positive that our elected officials aren't our social betters in any way, shape or form. The Senator opened his mouth months ago, about then Presidential candidate Barack Obama, and more or less talked about how non-black he seemed. These were certainly racist remarks, and it doesn't look good for him, as GOP Chairman Michael Steele (himself African American) is calling for his ouster. The man may never need payday loans again, even if he isn't re-elected, but this looks really bad for a Senator who otherwise had been heretofore having a decent career.

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By Marga on January 15, 2010 at 03:58 pm

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid was simply pointing out the obvious and reminding us that we are a long way away from any kind of ‘post-racial America.’” Reid is being raked over the political coals for some belatedly reported comments he made during the presidential campaign about Barack Obama’s chances as a candidate. A new book reads, “He [Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama—a ‘light-skinned’ African-American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he said privately.”

Reid has his failings and rightly criticized, but in this case he is getting a bad rap, as many African-American figures have attested. On two of the Sunday gasbag shows, Republican national chair Michael Steele—like many other GOP leaders—compared Reid’s comment to the controversy that caused Senate Republican leader Trent Lott to lose the majority leader’s post in 2002. Lott had praised the 1948 presidential candidacy of racist Strom Thurmond, saying that Thurmond’s election as president would have left the nation better off. The comparison is preposterous. Trent Lott was expressing his own racial views: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.”

He expressed this view on a second occasion, so it wasn’t just a one-time, inartfully expressed view. Reid was not expressing his own opinions. He was analyzing the way some voters might react to Obama. There are uncomfortable truths about racism that are difficult to make palatable. Some of them will make us squirm. This is not simply an issue of a white guy sounding off about blacks. As with so many things that are supposedly about race, this is a prejudice shared by whites and blacks.

African-Americans have described the affliction within their own ranks that Senator Reid describes in whites, which is probably one of the reasons blacks were so willing to overlook his comments. In a book on Clarence Thomas, two Washington Post reporters described the ordeal Thomas endured both as a boy in Savannah and as an adult at the hands of other blacks because he was very dark skinned: “The blacks in Savannah, like most of the South’s black society, observed a rigid caste system, a relic of slavery in which the closer one was to white, the higher one’s social standing was. The most prominent black families in town … were for the most part what a local history of African-Americans calls ‘high yellow,’ or mulatto. At the same time, many of those with purer African bloodlines, like Thomas, were made to feel inferior.”

Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins, an African-American leader and a champion of economic empowerment, made a similar point, even going so far as to say that Reid’s comments might be helpful: “But the truth is that for the past 400 years, light-skinned blacks have been preferable to darker skinned African-Americans in almost every walk of life, from beauty to employment to politics.

In that regard, Senator Reid was simply pointing out the obvious and reminding us that we are a long way away from any kind of ‘post-racial America.’” Watkins said that Reid’s comments could help fuel a constructive dialogue about race. Reid critics should drop the political posturing and get on with it.

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By Greene on January 21, 2010 at 07:40 pm

Some see Sen. Harry Reid as saddled with a huge gaffe after it was revealed he had called presidential candidate Barack Obama a light-skinned Negro in 2008. Gaffe my arse, says I, though it didn’t help him.

Among Senate Majority Leader Reid’s prospective GOP opponents, only one made sense of this. State Sen. Mark Amodei, despite still struggling in the polls, in effect took a pass on Nevada Newsmakers when given an opening.

Amodei basically said Reid’s remarks weren’t real news and instead criticized the Democrat for not bringing home more than 65 cents worth of services on each dollar of federal income taxes that Nevadans send to Washington.

He is right on both counts—particularly the ineffectiveness of a Senate power who secures such puny rewards for home state constituents. As for the revelation, the newsmen who wrote it didn’t treat it as news when they first heard it. It’s little more than an anecdote in a book released recently.

A recap for anyone news-deprived of late: Reid in 2008 said privately the nation’s citizenry might elect Barack Obama president because he is a “light-skinned African-American” who doesn’t speak with a Negro dialect unless he so chooses. Duh!

It isn’t my job to defend Reid, but integrity demands it. Reid’s comments turned out to be an accurate handicapper’s analysis. It wasn’t racist in any classic sense. If there was any racism, it inadvertently stereotyped his own kind. Say what?

Think about it. Reid acknowledged numbers of white folks wouldn’t vote for a smart, dark black man with a funky dialect. It’s just factual that 143 years after the (un)Civil War, Obama could capture the presidency while someone like Eddie Murphy must settle for headlining comedy clubs.

Some other wannabe Reid replacements in the GOP didn’t take the high ground like Amodei.

Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle said Reid’s remarks were offensive to all Americans and expressed disgust. Former basketball star Danny Tarkanian called them embarrassing and another indication the senator disgraces himself. Sue Lowden, formerly a state senator and state GOP chair, on a Fox TV talk show also played the “embarrassing” card on behalf of Nevadans.

I, however, am neither offended nor embarrassed.

Neither am I embarrassed by the escapades of Gov. Jim Gibbons nor Sen. John Ensign, both of whom are in my political party. Public officials and wannabes don’t embarrass me, though sometimes they disappoint.

Angle, Tarkanian and Lowden disappoint me. And Lowden’s string of “you know” verbal tics and “like I said” God-awful grammar during her TV appearance makes me realize she still needs work to become a polished candidate.

My favorite moment regarding this stupid flap, however, came watching ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Liz Cheney represented the political hard right, and George Will, a well-known Reagan booster and columnist, appeared for the right wing of the chattering class.

Liz Cheney, emulating her former Veep/always Daddy Dick, used familiar familial ready-fire-aim tactics. She criticized Reid and liberal media elites for defending him.

Think she is right regarding a major media double standard (also a Lowden complaint)? OK, but it’s just a rube rant, like yelling at umpires.

George Will countered crisply that Reid merely assessed reality. For me, the Cheney/Will verbal sword crossing bared the soul—or lack thereof—of some modern conservative crap that masquerades as conservatism these days. Will, of course, won.

Logic sometimes will.

So much for the weak Harry Reid-’em-and-weep week.

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By Carmen on January 26, 2010 at 02:48 pm

I do hate the media's ability and desire to make mountains out of molehills.
It is frankly a disease of 24 hour news bulletins that sound bite anything. Often totally out of context.


Breaking news is almost always broken because it gets dramatized for effect and often later proves much less significant than originally portrayed.

There's a world of difference between what Harry Reid said and what Trent Lott said. Lott was praising a former segregationist (Strom Thurmond) who had fought fiercely against racial integration and Lott said that the country would have been better off had it listened to Thurmond...or words to that effect. Reid's record is one of support for political goals of various minority groups...not Lott's. Lott's record is the opposite of Reids, one of resistance to those goals.

Bottom line: Lott was pandering to bigots when he said what he said. Reid was not.

For Republicans to try to equate the two just shows that they know nothing about the racial divide in this country...and their only interest in that divide is to try to exploit it for political gain. Republicans are just playing here their usual divisive political games.

Senator Reid spoke the truth. So did Joe Biden when he said during the primaries,

"I mean...you got the first sort of mainstream...uh...black American guy...who is articulate, bright and...uh...clean...a nice looking guy...I mean...that's a story book..."

Barack Obama was born to a Kenyan playboy and a young White American student. He grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and raised by an Indonesian stepfather and White grandparents. He was not and is not a typical African American. The only part of him that has any connection to the real world black American community is - his wife.

It is highly unlikely that a darker-skinned, culturally black American (that includes any member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Governor Patterson, or Governor Patrick), could have been elected President of the USA in 2008.

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