January 17th, 2010 13:21 EST
Harry Reid's Comments Were Spot On
"Reid, assessing Barack Obama`s chances in 2008, cited the fact that the candidate was a `light-skinned` African-American `with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.` Those ill-advised comments, to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann for their new book, `Game Change,` produced an immediate apology by Reid to the president. That was followed immediately by presidential forgiveness: `As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.`"
As Barack Obama quickly realized the book is not closed, Senator`s Reid`s inartful words have sparked hundreds of editorials, and now it`s my turn to vent.
First let`s consider the messenger, Reid isn`t a conservative with a racist streak, he`s a liberal Democrat who was an early supporter of Obama.
Let`s not forget that Reid has an apparently incurable case of "foot-in-mouth disease", he`s made many bizarre statements. Remember Reid`s quip about the smelly tourists coming into the Capitol"?
Finally at 70-years-old the senator from Nevada isn`t as mentally agile as he was in his younger days.
In other words Reid is no Pat Buchanan, let`s cut the man some slack.
Now let`s consider the message: Obama is a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one. As a writer and as a fan of the absurd, I think Reid`s statement is a masterpiece.
Reid may be the first person in recorded history to refer to a black man as an "African American" and as a "Negro" in the same sentence. Reid the consummate politician refers to Obama as an African American, but a second later Reid the doddering old fool uses the archaic word "Negro."
Reid`s comments were honest and truthful, Obama is a light-skinned African American. The implication that a light-skinned black would have a better chance than a dark-skinned black of winning the presidency is also true. If Obama were as black-skinned as a typical African, he would still be community organizer in Chicago.
The claim that the Harvard Law School-educated Obama doesn`t sound like a homeboy from da hood is spot on. I love Reid`s qualifier that Obama doesn`t have a Negro dialect "unless he wanted to have one." When Obama is interviewed on TV he sounds like a law school professor, but during the campaign when he was speaking to a predominantly black audience, Obama affected the cadences of a black Baptist preacher. It should be noted that Hillary Clinton the candidate did the same thing when addressing a black audience.
Bottom line: Reid has apologized for his truthful but clumsy statement, and the president has forgiven him. He doesn`t need to give up his leadership post or resign from the Senate. To borrow the words of Bill Clinton, it`s time to "move one." There are many racists who daily utter vile and false statements about African Americans, they are the ones that we should be criticizing, and not Reid whose days in the Senate appeared to be numbered anyway.
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