A new book, due out Tuesday, called “Game Change”, by jounalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, contains a quote from Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in which Reid says he’s impressed with Obama and that America could be ready to elect a “light skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wants one.”
I’m not sure if that statement is more offensive to black Americans or the white Americans who he implies would not be “ready” to vote for a dark skinned American with a more Joe Six Pack tone.
The official reaction has been predictable. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have accepted Reid’s apology and are playing down the statement. Barack Obama, the self-appointed spokesperson for all black Americans, has declared the case closed. I guess that’s that.
You may recall that when former Senate majority leader Trent Lott tried to say something nice about a 500 year old man with one foot in death’s door by saying that the country might have been better off had Strom Thurmond won his presidential election bid (the comment was made at Thurmond’s birthday dinner), he was forced to resign amid much public outrage. It was a poorly thought out statement, given that Thurmond had supported segregation back in the day.
There is obviously a much different standard for Democrats, even among “black leaders”. You can’t take Reid’s statement as anything other than racist. After all, it suggests that most African Americans are not qualified to be president, due to their skin color and voice inflection. However, as long as you tow the party line, any statement can be excused. Recall Joe Biden’s comment during the campaign about how “clean” Obama is; like a clean black man is a novelty, at least in his mind. He’s now our vice-president.
This really might turn out to be a “game changer” though. It is becoming more transparent that racial slurs are only outrageous if you oppose the liberal agenda. They are acceptable if you support it. I don’t know if that policy will stand. Reid’s already facing horrible poll numbers at home (60%+ disapproval) and his opponents in his own party might just take this opportunity to replace him, at least as leader. Further, more and more black conservatives (yes, they do exist) are feeling comfortable speaking out. They already didn’t like the direction Reid is helping take the country in. Now, there’s blood in the water.
The myth of the African-American “unimind” was already on shaky ground. Maybe this incident will blow it out of the water for good. Then we can finally get to debating issues as individual-Americans. That would be a good thing.