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The Reeds By The Bank Of The Denial [updated at 1747 & 1755]

10 January 2010 @ 16:22

I have hesitated to post about Harry ‘The School Marm’ Reid’s comments on Barack Hussein Obama that he made in 2008.  A bit of background from Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post:

Reid’s remarks about Obama were revealed in “Game Change,” a book detailing the 2008 race by Time’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann.

The authors describe Reid assessing Obama’s strengths as a candidate. Reid, they write, “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.”

I wanted to wait to comment on this until I heard more the reaction to it by the Left and the Right.  Sen. Reid apologizing to our Fearless Leader and He accepted.  It seems I waited too long to comment, however, because today Stacy McCain wrote his thoughts on it all and they are exactly mine [this is worth quoting at length]:

You can’t oppose political correctness while simultaneously enforcing political correctness, so my reaction is to (a) stipulate that Harry Reid intended nothing “racist” by his remarks, and (b) offer to pop the popcorn while we watch Democrats explain that liberalism is the virtue that excuses all vices.

It is observed at Hot Air and Protein Wisdom that in 2002, Barack Obama was merciless in regard to Trent Lott’s belated endorsement of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign. Obama and Democrats were merely playing racial politics in that episode. Is turnabout fair play? That is to say, does it behoove Republicans to crucify Harry Reid like the Democrats crucified Lott?

We’re at a teachable moment here and we ought to begin by acknowledging the fundamental truth of what Harry Reid was awkwardly trying to say: Barack Obama is “less black,” both racially and culturally, than Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. If Reid was trying to explain why Obama was electable in a way that Sharpton and Jackson were not, then he hit the nail quite nearly on the head.

This is really just another way in which Obama is like Jimmy Carter, who worked with a vocal coach to “de-Southernize” his accent before the 1976 presidential campaign. If Carter had been perceived as just a standard-issue Southern Democrat a la George Wallace, he never would have been competitive as a presidential candidate. And ditto if Obama had been perceived as a standard-issue black Democrat a la Maxine Waters.

Assuming that this was all Reid was trying to say, then the awkwardness with which he said it ought not serve as fuel for a scandal….

Any conservative who thinks that turnabout is fair play is being a hypocrite.  This is preciously the kind of thing we preach against: political correctness and the over-the-top policing of language where every iffy word use is ascribed immediately to bad intentions.

Harry Reid may, indeed, be a racist.  I don’t know.  [I do know that the worst racists I have met in all my years living up in the Nor’east have been Leftists practicing what I call ‘insidious soft rascism’ and Irish Democrats.]  Looking just at The School Marm’s words, I, like Stacy, see nothing racist in them.  It is a fact that it was a lot easier to elect a light-skinned black man who rarely ‘talked street’ to the Presidency, just as Jimmy Carter was easier to elect once he started sounding like Ashley Wilkes.  We demand certain basic attributes from our Presidents: that they dress well, speak well, conduct themselves as gentlemen [I know the definition of that term has been watered-down in recent decades, but we still hold our candidates to a higher standard then we hold ourselves], and don’t appear to be trashy [Yea, I mean Bill Clinton] or threatening in any way [like an Al Sharpton or George Wallace] or batsh-t crazy [like Howard Dean or Maxine Waters].  Barack Hussein Obama was well-mannered, unlike his other radical Leftist compatriots.  He knows how to dress and act cooly.  And, I think most importantly, he knows that an air of mystery is always appealing.  Oh…he also is quite an accomplished liar and chameleon.

UPDATE at 1747…

Dan Riehl takes the opposite position to mine here and, as always, makes his case well.

UPDATE at 1755…

Stogie is spot-on:

Harry Reid is a flaming jerk, but not because he called Obama a Negro. The Negro comment only proves Reid is a wingtip daddy in a Nike world. Out of touch, certainly, but not a racist. Now, if Harry Reid shows up in blackface on black history day and starts singing Al Jolson tunes, we can reevaluate this. But for now, when it comes to eroding individual freedoms, Reid has a solid, equal-opportunity reputation.

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