Harry Reid is the shame of the Senate. And it hard not to bathe in schadenfreude at the hammering he is now getting over an interview he gave to John Heilemann and Mark Haperin during 2008 for their new book Game Change in which he enthused that Barack Obama was electable because he was “light skinned” and “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” But it is also hard not to be disgusted by the politically correct sanctimony of Republicans like the RNC’s Michael Steele who are acting as if they just caught the Nevada senator in a Klan costume.
“Negro” is the new n-word now? And is it not true that Obama’s light skin color and the half-white background that produced it was indeed an electoral asset? And didn’t the ability to talk like a brother as well as a Harvard grad sharpen the President’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 “racism,” 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 don’t know that getting leverage by calling an opponent a racist (a term like “McCarthyite,” 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 “teachable moments” 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