When Trent Lott, the GOP Senate Majority Leader back in 2002, made the remark on the occasion of Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday that the country would have been better off had Strom been elected president when he ran in 1948 he was excoriated by the press and forced to resign as majority leader by his party because Strom Thurmond had been a segregationist in the 1940s. Lott wasn't even thinking of that, he was simply trying to say something nice about an elderly colleague, but numerous Democrats, including Mr. Obama, screamed for his head, and so the GOP threw him to the wolves.
In 2007 Virginia Governor George Allen was savaged by the press for calling a heckler "macaca," a word that Allen claims he didn't even know the meaning of and no one else did either (Apparently it's regarded in some parts of the world as a mild insult, like calling someone a monkey). The incident is thought by some to have cost Allen the election in his Senate race against Jim Webb.
Now the victim of the racial insensitivity police is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who, it was reported in a recently released book on the 2008 election, said that Barack Obama was "light skinned" and had "no Negro dialect" and therefore had an electoral advantage. For this indiscretion Reid is apologizing and groveling and being blasted by Republicans.
Indeed, there is poetic justice in this, and I would be happy to see Harry Reid hounded out of the Senate, but not for this. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know what was so terribly wrong with what Reid said (nor with what Lott or Allen said). It was grossly unfair and puerile of the Democrats, including Harry Reid himself, and the liberal media, to make a big deal about the Republicans' remarks, and it is just as unfair for the Republicans to do the same now to Reid (and hypocritical of the liberal media to be largely quiet about it since they blasted both Lott and Allen night and day over their comments).
Let me be clear (as our President likes to say), Reid is vulnerable to a lot of criticism. The squalid manner in which he bought off senators' votes on the health care bill, his comparison of health care opponents to those who opposed civil rights for blacks, his hypocrisy in condemning Bill Bennett for remarks not unlike his own, his lack of class in his criticisms of George Bush, and his willingness to play fast and loose with the truth on any number of occasions, are all legitimate targets, but I simply don't see why it's racist or "insensitive" or otherwise offensive to note a man's color and his mode of speech. Nor do I see why it's racist to declaim upon how these characteristics could work to a man's political advantage with an electorate that clearly wanted to vote for a black man but perhaps not one who was too black. To be sure, it may, like neglecting to cover a yawn, flout a social convention to say out loud what everybody can plainly see, but I don't see how it's racist or otherwise beyond tolerable.
Perhaps, someone out there, liberal or conservative, will explain it all to me and make the case for why Reid should step down as Majority Leader because of his comment about Obama's hue and speech. Meanwhile, I'd prefer conservatives focus on the man's real liabilities, which are legion. In the present instance, however, the offense wasn't racism, but rather hypocrisy, both on the part of Reid and those who were quick to condemn Bennett, Lott and Allen but give Reid a pass.
Conservatives should avoid acting like children by parsing every syllable a person utters for signs of racism just so they can use the words as a political smear. It's really small-minded and ugly, and besides, it's the sort of thing the Left does.RLC