Political storm over Senate Majority Leader Reid’s private remarks “much ado about nothing”

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By Juanita Bratcher 

Can you imagine the political storm that developed over private remarks made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2008 which found their way into “Game Change,” a newly released book about the 2008 presidential election?

There are some who are now trying to make political hay of Reid’s remarks and have called for the Nevada Democrat to resign. Resign for what? It is utterly ridiculous for anyone to suggest that Reid should resign his post as Majority Leader over his racial remarks, which had no inklings of being racist.

Let’s face it, there’ve been a stream of incendiary remarks making its way through blogosphere and the media since the Obama Administration took office that were frankly “racist”, yet they went unchallenged by some of those same ones who are now making loud noises and calling for Reid’s resignation.

The political bon fire started by Reid’s remarks can certainly be placed in a file of “much ado about nothing.” And certainly, there’s no basic comparison of what Reid said to what former Senate Leader Trent Lott said as some are trying to compare and equate. Their individual remarks are more like apples and oranges.

In “Game Change”, co-authored by veteran reporters Mark Halperin, Time magazine, and John Heilemann of New York magazine – Reid was quoted as privately saying he believed 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.’

Even before the book was officially released, the buzz about Reid’s remarks had already started a political storm, a political bon fire; and the airways, cable networks and blogosphere had a steady, feisty dialogue streaming over his private remarks.

But in several discussions I was privy to, former President Bill Clinton’s remarks in the book raised a few eyebrows, yet, there was barely little reporting on what Clinton said in a telephone conversation between him and the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

In the conversation, Clinton, according to “Game Change”, asked for Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and stated that: “A few years ago, this guy (Barack Obama) would have been getting us coffee.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, on NBC’s Meet the Press, called for Reid’s resignation, stating, “There’s a big double standard here.”

“What’s interesting here,” Steele continued, “is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough…”

Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl and other Republicans also called for Reid’s resignation.  Kyl, on Fox News, said if Lott should resign so should Harry Reid.

Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott put his foot in his mouth at Strom Thurmond’s 100th Birthday Party on December 5, 2002, when he said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.”

Thurmond was a segregationist. He made a failed run for President of the United States in 1948 on a third party ticket known as Dixiecrat (State’s Rights Democratic Party), a spin-off from the national Democrats. He carried four states and received 39 electoral votes.

Thurmond once told supporters: “I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”   

Lott resigned his post as Senate Republican Leader 15 days (December 20, 2002) after making his remarks at Thurmond’s Birthday Party, bowing to enormous pressure from colleagues.

Negro is not a racist word. There are black organizations with the word Negro included in their title – for instance The United Negro College Fund, and The National Organization of Negro Women. While some don’t look at the word Negro as being offensive they do look upon it as being outdated.

Reid apologized for his remarks, stating, “I’ve apologized to everyone in the sound of my voice.” President Obama accepted his apology, describing Reid as “A good man that has always been on the right side of history.”

Reid is heralding the fight for healthcare reform legislation. There are those who have tried to delay or destroy healthcare reform legislation altogether. Now there are loud noises trying to bring undue friction between Reid, Obama and a large group (African-Americans) of Democratic Party supporters. Let’s not be bamboozled into thinking otherwise.

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