I know this happened a week ago, but other obligations have left me no time to blog about it. I’m talking about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s controversial remarks about Barack Obama, recently revealed in the book “Game Change”. The quote:
He [Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and 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,’ “
One can see how this would garner controversy. Regarding this quote, I ask two questions: 1) What if a Republican made these comments? and 2) Is there some truth to what he’s saying?
Democrats have successfully painted themselves to America as the diversity-loving, enlightened, forward-thinking, tolerant party. Because of this, it seems like whenever they say something that could be interpreted as politically incorrect, they apologize and everyone forgets about it because there’s no way a Democrat could actually be racist/homophobic/anti-Semetic. After all, Obama’s vice President Joe Biden once said this about Obama:
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean that’s a storybook, man.”
Several African-Americans have wrong for President for Obama. By some mathematical property, this means that Biden was accusing Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Carol Mosely-Braun as not being articulate, bright, and clean. Biden apologized for the remarks. He must have been forgiven, since Obama chose him to be his vice-president.
Meanwhile, think if a Republican said Biden’s or Reid’s remarks. Imagine Mitt Romney saying “oh sure, people love Obama. After all, he’s the first black guy to run for President to actually have a palatable image.” His career would be over. Imagine if Tim Pawlenty said “Obama’s great. He doesn’t talk like a black guy from urban areas. You know, the ones who can’t really speak well.” It wouldn’t go down very well. He’d be painted as an intolerant racist Republican and have to apologize profusely and/or end his political career. Instead, Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader.
The second point: what if Reid is right? Regardless of whether he’s right, I think it’s important to check the double standard the masses seem to have for the two major parties. On the other hand, maybe Reid’s remarks had some truth to them. Reid could have actually been delivering a true statement and people just wanted to be shooting the messenger boy. I think it’s possible that Barack Obama was electable because he was, as Reid said, “light-skinned” and speaks with sophistication. I’m not saying it’s a good thing or justified. But it may be true. I think it’s possible that the majority of the electorate, especially the moderates that swing elections, would be turned off by a darker skinned black man or an Al Sharpton-like candidate who just sounds angry and divisive every time he speaks. Again, I’m not saying this is a particularly good thing for the public to believe in. I am, however, saying that it could be true.