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The Obligatory 'Harry Reid Is An Idiot' Post


Ugh.

By now, you've likely seen the comments that were spewed forth from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's mouth and revealed over the weekend with the debut of the book Game Change (if you haven't, please do keep reading). I haven't commented on it yet largely because I just do not care. Oh sure, the comments that surfaced have shone the gentleman from Nevada in the worst possible light right now -- and perhaps he deserves said light for being so insensitive in his wording. But really, is it that big of a deal?

After reading the whole story, I think that Harry Reid is less of a racist and more of a racially-insensitive guy -- who got caught speaking what is truly on his mind. Many on the Right have been comparing Reid's comments to those of (then Majority Leader) Trent Lott (R-MS). Let's do that now, shall we?

Harry Reid's comment, from page 37 of Game Change:
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 was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.
Now Trent Lott's comment from a 2002 birthday party for Strom Thurmond:
Lott said Mississippi voters were proud to have supported Thurmond when he ran for president on a segregationist platform in 1948, and added: "If the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either."
There you go. Side-by-side comments. While both are racially insensitive, I feel that Lott's comments say more in the sub-text than Reid's do.

When Trent Lott said, "If the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years", the unspoken message is that if America had kept a segregationist ideology, then we would have been better off for it. Now, I cannot see into Mr. Lott's soul, but my guess is that this is not what he meant. But, at face value, I believe that his comment (because of the sub-text) is more damaging.

As far as Reid's comment goes, I think Coates hit the proverbial nail on the head:
I think you can grant that, in this era, the term "Negro dialect" is racially insensitive and embarrassing. That said, the fair-mind listener understands the argument--Barack Obama's complexion and his ability to code-switch is an asset. You can quibble about the "light skin" part, but forget running for president, code-switching is the standard M.O. for any African American with middle class aspirations.
So, do I think that Lott should have resigned over the comments? No. I think that he should have apologized and moved on with his career and not resigned his post as Majority Leader.

Do I think that Reid should be sh*t-canned (or resign) because of his kerfluffle? Nah. If he does leave (either Majority Leader, or the Senate altogether), my guess is that it will be as a result of his (likely) inability to be re-elected rather than embarrassment resulting from his ridiculous comments.

The basic tenets of election apply to both of these cases: Voters elected these folks to their positions. If our elected officials say something stupid (two great examples are above), then the voters can decide if the comment was so egregious as to dismiss the official from their position.

The bottom-line here is that both guys said some pretty lame stuff and apologized. No need to call for resignations. No need to freak out. They were not the first two, and they surely will not be the last.