Senator Harry Reid is a corrupt statist, embodying everything wrong with the 111th U.S. Congress. But he isn’t a bigot. Reid deserves, and will likely receive, a humiliating electoral defeat in November. But he doesn’t deserve a coerced resignation, which would most assuredly be spun as a moment of grand martyrdom. So to my fellow citizens, particularly conservatives, I say: lay off Mr. Reid and take his newly released 2008 remarks regarding President Obama’s race — “light-skinned,” no “Negro dialect” — for what they are: a little insulting and a little accurate (more on that later).
But first, the gist of it: It’s unbecoming — and plain wrong — to attack a man’s character based on a moment of flippancy and poor phraseology. That’s what the race hucksters on the left have done to conservatives for years. They’re wrong to do so. Why then would conservatives like Michael Steele feel justified in replicating such cheap behavior themselves? Two wrongs do not make a right.
Republicans lament the 2002 treatment of Senator Trent Lott, which is understandable. Lott’s a fine man, but was nationally smeared by Democrats as a racist and compelled to resign from the Senate for saying some kind words about the ex-segregationist Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday. If Lott resigned for saying what he said, Reid should resign for saying what he said, Republicans bemoan.
But this is childlike tit-for-tat nonsense. Rather than devolve into racial hucksterism, Republicans should instead merely illuminate the double standards and leave it at that. The American people are smart and fair enough to decide who is and isn’t out of line. We have long recognized the double standard on all things racial. Namely: liberals can say what conservatives cannot and black people can say what white people would not.
It is pointless to go over the entire litany of examples, but contrast the tarnished reputation of a George Allen (of “macaca” fame) with the non-reactions to a Blagojevich (“blacker than Obama”) or a Biden (Obama’s “clean, articulate”). Does anyone not now concede that had it been Gingrich or Giuliani — and not the self-described first black president, Mr. Clinton — to utter Obama should “be getting us coffee,” there would today be cries of racism and not relative silence? Does anyone deny that had it been John McCain who attended a “white separatist” church for twenty years — praying alone in his basement with his “white liberationist” pastor who screeched from the pulpit that white people who killed other white people were killing the wrong enemy — McCain would have had to not only drop out of the presidential race, but resign from the Senate in shame as well? You get the point.
The problem is not Mr. Reid’s comments, but rather the inane hullabaloo we as a nation go through every time somebody, somewhere, says something that could potentially be perceived as racially insensitive to someone. We not only ruin careers, reputations, and livelihoods, but we make jackasses out of ourselves. Such political correctness replaces candor with cowardice. Wouldn’t it be better to have elected officials say what they mean and mean what they say?