Monday, January 11, 2010

The 'Ole Double Standard

Only in Washington from the mouths of our elected politicians.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, has had a case of "foot-in-mouth". He made comments directly to one of the authors of "Game Change," the tell all book on the 2008 presidential campaign being released this week. Reid spoke  to author Mark Halperin in context of what he believed was a positive statement about why he backed Obama as early as he did.
In the book Reid “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,' as he later put it privately."

Reid and his staff did not expect this direct quote to appear in the book and he began apologizing shortly after the excerpts were reported on the Web site of The Atlantic magazine. According to several sources familiar with the senator's actions, Reid called Obama from his home in Searchlight, Nev. Obama took the call in the Oval Office.

"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments," Reid said in a statement. "I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama's legislative agenda."

Reid also called prominent African Americans, including National Action Network head Al Sharpton, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights chief Wade Henderson.

In a written statement Saturday, Obama said he accepted Reid's apology "without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart."
"As far as I am concerned, the book is closed," he added.

Speaking on two talk shows, GOP Chairman Michael Steele compared Reid's comment to the controversy that led Senate Republican leader Trent Lott to step down from that post in 2002. At a 100th birthday celebration for Strom Thurmond, Lott lauded Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist presidential campaign. Lott apologized but still was forced out as leader.

"There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it's racism," said Steele, who is black.  "If (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell had said those very words then this chairman and this president would be calling for his head, and they would be labeling every Republican in the country as a racist for saying exactly what this chairman has just said. It's either racist or it's not. And it's inappropriate, absolutely."

Want more defense for Reid? 
-- "Clearly this was a mistake. Clearly the leader misspoke. He has also apologized," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said. "So the president has accepted the apology.  And it would seem to me that the matter should be closed."

-- "Harry Reid made a misstatement. He owned up to it. He apologized. I think he is mortified by the statement he's made," Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said on "Fox News Sunday." "And I don't think he should step down. I think he's a valuable member of the Senate and someone who's going to continue to lead."

-- Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine also defended Reid. "I don't think this is an issue that is going affect his leadership at all. In fact, he's doing some very heavy lifting -- wonderful lifting right now to get this health care bill over the goal line," Kaine told "Fox News Sunday."

-- And here's my favorite: From Rev. Al Sharpton on Fox News: "I think that it was clearly a misstatement if he was talking, as the author said, about why he felt his candidate, Barack Obama, could win. He was supporting Senator Obama as opposed to someone saying, 'Don't vote for him because he's black'."

Here is Sharpton's "official" statement: "I have learned of certain unfortunate comments made by Senator Reid regarding President Barack Obama and have spoken with Senator Reid about those comments. While there is no question that Senator Reid did not select the best word choice in this instance, these comments should not distract America from its continued focus on securing health care or creating jobs for its people. Nor should they detract from the unquestionable leadership role Senator Reid has played on these issues or in the area of civil rights. Senator Reid's door has always been open on hearing from the civil rights community on these issues and I look forward to continue to work with Senator Reid wherever possible to improve the lives of Americans everywhere."

It's also pointed out in the book that former president Clinton was talking to Sen. Ted Kennedy about Obama and was quoted as saying that, "A few years ago, this guy Obama would be getting us coffee". When talking on Fox News about that comment, Sharpton said, "Now that I find offensive".

And so it goes. It really does matter what side of the fence you're on in this country as to whether you get called out on your statements. You know as well as I that if that exact comment had been made by any white Republican then Rev. Sharpton would have been at the front of the protest group demanding that person's resignation.

Will it ever end?

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