Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 11, 2010
POLITICS: Harry Reid Among The Hypocrites

By now most of you have seen Harry Reid's reported remarks, from a book on the 2008 election, enthusing that Barack Obama could be a successful presidential candidate because he was "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." The real story here is the Left's hypocrisy: Reid has committed a sin that would be unpardonable by anyone but a Democratic politician.

Much of the "Negro-gate" flap over Reid's comments has focused on whether, parsing them closely, they can or can't be compared to the 2002 comments by Trent Lott that got Lott ousted as Senate Majority Leader. As a matter of pure politics, that seems unlikely to happen to Reid - where Lott came under early and intense fire from bloggers and pundits on the Right, eventually making him radioactive to fellow GOP politicians, the Left (with only a few exceptions) has circled the wagons around Reid. On the other hand, Reid faces his own doom, as this adds to an already uphill battle Reid faces for re-election. But in any event, the better analogy is to George Allen, Jimmy the Greek, Al Campanis, James Watt, and others who lost their jobs due to comments that were not so much racist per se, but rather racially insensitive. That's what Reid's comments were - he was basically giving Obama a stamp of approval for not being one of those black people, with their "Negro dialect" and black skin - and even if he meant it more as an insult aimed at the tolerance of white voters, it's still not something you or I would be crass enough to say in a forum where it could ever be repeated to African-American friends. (Perhaps more damning to Obama is Reid's implication that Obama would put on a "Negro dialect" when it suited his purposes).

Reid's not the only one even this week - the same book quotes Bill Clinton saying that a few years ago, Obama would have been getting him coffee, while Rod Blagojevich, the twice-Obama-endorsed gift that keeps on giving, tells Esquire Magazine:

I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived.

He's black because he shined shoes?

Nor is this Reid's first offense. Among Reid's long laundry list of petty personal insults aimed at distinguished public servants - notably excluding former KKK member Robert Byrd, whom Reid called an "unusually brilliant man" - Reid said of Clarence Thomas:

I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

Reid contrasted Justice Thomas to Justice Scalia: "I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy." But what made Reid assume that Thomas was a lesser intellect or a bad writer? He was never able to identify any Thomas opinions he'd read that gave him that idea. It was just a stereotype.

Racial insensitivity, intended or not, has become a frequent firing offense for government officials and other public figures at the insistence of the Left, aided and actively encouraged time and again by the leading lights of the Democratic Party. It is not Republicans or conservatives who frequently bathe themselves in sanctimony on this issue or treat it as an unforgivable offense. When a Republican is caught in a sex scandal, pretty much regardless of his actual record, the air is filled with calls for him to be held to a higher standard than Democrats because of conservatives' belief (not universally shared) that marital infidelity and other sexual misconduct is a bad thing. Yet, when a Democrat is caught making racially insensitive remarks, the very same pundits on the Left argue that rather than hold their side to the higher standard they demand of others, there should be a lower standard for Democrats precisely because of their public positions. Heads we win, tails you lose!

My own oft-stated view on Republicans and sex scandals, see here, here, here and here, is that the problem with hypocrtical Republicans is not their public defenses of virtue but their private sins, which may reflect badly enough on them in some cases (e.g., Mark Sanford) to doom them politically, but don't necessarily detract from their advocacy of what is right and good. But by giving Reid a pass, as with giving Clinton a pass for sexual harrassment, Democrats are showing that they believe the opposite: that they are willing to forgive violations of their own supposed principles in order to hold on to political power because those principles were never really that important to them in the first place - just a handy club to beat opponents.

Who's the real hypocrite in that picture?

UPDATE: Reports seem to be casting some doubt on the Clinton quote, among others in the book. Reid's office, however, has confirmed that Reid himself was the source for the Reid quotes and doesn't contest their authenticity.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:51 AM | Politics 2010 | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

Just for the record -I don't think either Reid's or Clinton's comments were in fact racist. Obama is light skinned and he doesn't, except when he wants to, use a black accent. Clinton's comment was about his total lack of experience not race. That said, the way the press and liberals are handling this is exhibit #5 billion in proving their bias and total lack of consistency.

Posted by: dch at January 11, 2010 10:27 AM

that they are willing to forgive violations of their own supposed principles in order to hold on to political power because those principles were never really that important to them in the first place - just a handy club to beat opponents.

You mean the same people who were all behind:

-bombing Iraq when it was Bill Clinton ordering the bombing.
-ousting sexual harassers from office when it was Bob Packwood doing the harassing
-the filibuster in the 00's.
-ridiculing David Brock as a liar when he was writing about Anita Hill.
-Going after Arianna Huffington when she was the (fake) wife of a GOP senate candidate.
-Pressing the publication of 3rd hand rumors that George Allen once said the N-word back in the 1970's & such was proof of racism TODAY.
-Dan Quayle calling Mario Cuomo "Mario" was an episode of GOP pushing the envelope of racial/cultural insensitivity (think about that one while reflecting on what Harry Reid said)
-Okay with informing the government about private citizens & seeking investigations (when it was the Christian Coalition, instead of people phoning terrorist suspects in Yemen)

have done a 180? I'm shocked, I tell ya. Shocked.

It's almost as if the cause/party is more important than their credibility, word, character.

Posted by: RW at January 11, 2010 10:51 AM

Actually, later on a CNN program, Senator Reid did give an example of a Justice Thomas writing that he found lacking:

"Reid: Oh sure, that's easy to do. You take the Hillside Dairy case. In that case you had a dissent written by Scalia and a dissent written by Thomas. There—it's like looking at an eighth-grade dissertation compared to somebody who just graduated from Harvard. Scalia's is well reasoned. He doesn't want to turn stare decisis precedent on its head. That's what Thomas wants to do. So yes, I think he has written a very poor opinion there and he's written other opinions that are not very good."

...a well-informed answer, except for the facts that the Justice Thomas dissent was a simple, one paragraph dissent on just one part of the decision and Justice Scalia didn't write a dissent.

And also for the record, I don't think Mr. Reid's comments were racist but instead reflected his perception that perhaps his fellow Democrats can be somewhat racist. I won't speak to that but merely note that he knows the Democratic mindset better than I do.

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at January 11, 2010 10:57 AM

I'm no big fan of Harry Reid, but I don't think this an example of hypocrisy or racism on Reid's part, basically for the reasons dch noted. I agree with dch on Clinton as well. Blagojevich, well he's just a nut. I wouldn't try to make political hay out of this.

Posted by: MVH at January 11, 2010 11:08 AM

This is a good time for both sides to draw a line in the sand on this politically correct crap. Besides, Harry Reid is one of the GOP's best friends right now.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 11, 2010 1:22 PM

Lott said the country would be better off with a segregationist as Senate leader, and Reid said Obama (whose candidacy he supported) would be favored by voters in essence because he isnt "too black", a prescient observation if inartfully worded.

Gee, there's no difference there is there?

Only in a bizarro conservative alternative universe would the nuance be lost. And oh yeah it was Bush who forced Lott out not the Dems, but why introduce even more cognitive dissonance into the situation, a Fox News Transmitter might explode as a result.

Posted by: robert at January 11, 2010 4:04 PM

Lott at an elderly Senators birthday threw out some verbal accolades to a guy who had been serving for almost 50 frigging years. A year or so later, Chris Dodd and some other dem threw out similar accolades at a birthday for KKK Byrd. All of these incidents are bs-meaningless-The only people suffering cognitive dissonance about all of this is the usual. How your outrage phases in and out depending on the party. If Reid was a Republican you and every other dem would be calling for his scalp.

Posted by: dch at January 11, 2010 4:31 PM

Oh DCH please. Lott said the country would have been better off with STrom Thurmond as president, that 'we wouldnt have had all these problems".

That is light years different from Reid praising Obama's electability and himself voting for a black man to be president.

Posted by: robert at January 11, 2010 4:47 PM

Again context-birthday party for a what 98 year old guy-50 years after he ran for President

Posted by: dch at January 11, 2010 7:03 PM

Crank, you must be really hard up for material whihc, once again, puts on full display your meager analytical skills.

I feel sorry for your firm's clients if this is an example of your work product.

Posted by: magrooder at January 11, 2010 8:32 PM

Robert, get with the program: it's NEGRO, not black. (do they pat you on your head when you carry the party-line?)

Posted by: RW at January 11, 2010 9:43 PM


Maybe you're living in a cocoon. Aside, can I say "cocoon" without someone saying that I made a racist remark?

Are you not aware the The Dems & the MSM (but I repeat myself) spend most of their time attacking their favorite bete noire like Sarah Palin & Trig, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Rush, Ronald Reagan, or Herbert Hoover. Aside, can I say “bete noire” without someone saying that I made a racist remark?

The important thing here is not whether Reid made a racist remark (no brainer except for robotic Dem apologists), but the difference in the treatment of what they define as Lott's certified racist remark vs. how they yawn over Reid's, Biden's, Clinton's, & KKK Byrd's “what, racist?” remarks. (Commenting on Obama’s skin and “non-Negro dialect” are, really, to those of us with the secret decoder ring, “positive things”.)

Anyway, the House Black Caucus agrees with you & gives Harry a pass.

"Being Dem means never having to say you're sorry!"

Posted by: From Inwood at January 11, 2010 11:03 PM

And oh yeah it was Bush who forced Lott out not the Dems...

So we're waiting on our post-racial president to follow the precedent. But then he couldn't call himself "unprecedented", could he?

Funny stuff.

Posted by: spongeworthy at January 12, 2010 9:19 AM

Robert, what's "too black"? Give us details into the lefty psyche (which, of course, you're projecting onto the rest of the populace as a cover), please.

Is Michelle too black? Sasha? Are their dialects acceptable?

Posted by: RW at January 12, 2010 9:39 AM

Inwood: I love your cocoon and bete noir jokes, very funny indeed. However their is absolutely no equivalence between Lott stating the country would be better off with a segregationist racist President and Reid praising electability. None, zip, nada.

It's like those attempts to equate Palestinians firing rockets over the Israeli border with Israel's subsequent attack on the rocket launcers. Both involve violence, both are uses of force. But its like night and day aint it? (Wonders if you're going to accuse me of racism for saying 'aint').

Posted by: robert at January 12, 2010 3:06 PM

When Rush Limbaugh discusses "Barack the Magic Negro" i dont see you conservatives getting all outraged and calling for his firing, so who is being hypocritical here for calling for Reid's resignation?

Posted by: robert at January 12, 2010 4:31 PM

Crank, this post sums up how far the quality of your blog has fallen since it became clear Obama would be elected President. Rather than providing a thoughtful conservative critique, you have devolved into nothing more than a parrot (albeit a very well-written one) of the far right.

The obvious difference between Harry Reid's racially questionable remarks and those of Trent Lott is their vastly different record on legislation that are viewed, rightly or wrongly, as particularly beneficial to black Americans. Since the late 1960s/early 1970s, the Republican Party has consciously chosen to court Southern whites, a group that politically, tends to have concerns grossly at odds with blacks.

While the GOP has had a few very rare instances in recent years of reaching out to blacks, the fact remains that no ethnic group in the country is as wedded to a political party as blacks are to the Democratic Party.

In that context - as a leader of the only major political party that explicitly and actively cultivates a relationship with black Americans - Harry Reid's poor word choice is much more easily taken than people like Trent Lott's.

There is nothing remotely hypocritical in offering more leniency in judging people who have proven to be good allies. The pre-Obama Crank would have understood that.

Posted by: Jim at January 12, 2010 5:06 PM

I find it telling that every single one of the lefties commenting here tried to distinguish Reid's remarks from Lott's - a point I did not dispute in my post - rather than address the parallels I did draw.

"the only major political party that black Americans explicitly and actively cultivate a relationship with"

There, fixed it.

Posted by: Crank at January 12, 2010 5:17 PM

Well, one thing you can count on from the comments here from Lefties. They will nearly always be telling.

Posted by: spongeworthy at January 13, 2010 9:43 AM

Yoo-hoo, Robert: what's "too black"? Your ducking does not go unnoticed.

Oh, and by the way, your ignorance is glarring: the genesis of the parody, from a liberal black Democrat. In other news, Weird Al Yankovich was making fun of a Michael Jackson song when he recorded "Eat it" (I think it's necessary to point those sorts of things out, now). Also, Princess Dianna died.

We didn't call for Rush's resignation because we're informed and independent thinkers. No word yet on if we're too black or speak with a negro dialect.


is their vastly different record on legislation

Translation: he's a good liberal Dem, so THERE.
Carry that water, dude, carry that water....

Posted by: RW at January 13, 2010 11:15 AM
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