The latest Harry Reid debacle has me pondering a few things, and some of them have been nagging at me for a while.
Harry just can’t seem to keep his feet out of his mouth, and sooner or later, this needs to become a problem for the Democrats. You see, the leaders of the party in the House and Senate are elected by their fellow representatives and senators. Among their duties are speaking for the party, being its face, and representing its values to the public. And nowhere in recent years have the pitfalls of being a public face shown more than when the topic of race is involved.
Not too many years ago, a Republican Senate Leader, Trent Lott, toasted Senator Strom Thurmond at a birthday party “I want to say this about my state: 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 all these years, either.”
When this statement became public, it was immediately taken as an endorsement of the segregation that Senator Thurmond fought so hard to preserve against federal encroachment in southern states. In other words, Lott was a racist! At least, that was the conclusion of so many Democrats, who admonish others for jumping to conclusions when they feel they “are taken out of context.” Yet this simplistic conclusion was soon enshrined as the only possible conclusion. Not being omniscient, I don’t know what is in Lott’s heart, or that if he meant the comment as a racist conclusion. However, I do know that the Dixiecrat Party, which Thurmond represented in his bid for the Presidency was firm in its support for state’s rights. You liberals reading this might have heard of the concept. The idea that some functions are specifically set aside for the federal government, and those not delegated to it or prohibited by the states are reserved to the states, or the people. I know I have read about that extensively somewhere. Give me a minute, I’m sure it will come to me. Yet, once condemned by his Democratic counterparts in the Senate, the sin was deemed unpardonable, and atonement had to be made. Lott gave in to pressure to resign from his leadership position, and then later from the Senate.
Compare this to the latest instance of Harry’s mouth being a problem.
In 2008 he said he thought that Barack Obama could win the presidency because he was “light-skinned” and did not use a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Trent Lott made a favorable remark in favor of the candidacy of a man whose agenda included segregation, as a component of states making their own decisions about matters, and it was immediately interpreted as an unforgivable manifestation of a racist mindset, but Harry Reid makes an overtly racist analysis of a specific person, the man who is now the President, but yet with apologies made to the right people, his party wants to consider the matter closed and move on. There seems to be no serious consideration on the part of the Democratic Party about how this continued sanction of this man and his “leadership” reflects upon them. Poor Harry has inserted his foot in his mouth so often that he has to brush his teeth with Tinactin, but no matter how inappropriate, whiney, or racist the remark, the Dems still want him as a standard bearer. When the evil Booooosh was still in office, they might have better luck with spinning this and not having the real scrutiny turned where is should be directed, but in the wake of the Tea Party movement and under the gaze of an already enraged public, to simply act as if this foolish statement, one of a long line of foolish and revealing statements is forgiven because he immediately apologized to the President (which is correct) and black leaders (which is questionable) is tone-deaf at best, and politically dangerous at worst. Pretending that this is not indicative of a larger problem with Harry Reid, and in the wake of continuing Democratic support, a much larger problem with the party itself, is as revealing as it is wrong.
None of this comes as a surprise to many conservatives. The Democratic double-standard has been a feature and not a bug of partisan politics for at least forty years now. The part that is galling is that in the age of America’s First “Post-Racial” President, our noses keep getting rubbed in it by the very same people who have declared it to be true. From Eric Holder’s scold that we are a nation of cowards who refuse to have an honest conversation about race, or the President himself who in the same breath recognizes that he did not have all the facts regarding an encounter between a black professor of his and the Cambridge Police, but concludes nonetheless that the Police acted stupidly.
Memo to the President who supposedly came to heal the holes in our souls and his Attorney General seeking an honest discussion about race: Looking to the actions and statements of those in your own party would be an excellent start. When someone is your leader, and they can’t seem to stop themselves from committing gaffe after gaffe, and tops it off with undeniably racist statements, it reflects badly on you, too. Especially when you keep wagging your crooked fingers at us about what you perceive to be racist behavior by us.
My final thoughts on this are probably more provocative, but again, as long as I have been admonished about not being willing to have an honest conversation about race, you’re going to get one from me. Who are these “black leaders” that people not of color keep having to make amends to when they have been declared of some sort of racial transgression? Who elected them? Do we all get to choose? And if not, how is that equality? How did Harry know who to call? Do they publish a directory? I realize that this may sound somewhat ridiculous, and I might be making too much light of what should be serious questions, but I think it is long past time to have an honest conversation about race on this particular subject. Who are these individuals to accept an apology for racist remarks about one person? And if it were about more than one person, the question remains the same. I don’t remember taking part in any decision to elect white leaders to accept apologies from members of other ethnic and racial groups who make racist remarks about white people. Oh yeah, that never happens anyway. The apologies, I mean. And maybe that’s how it should be.
There certainly is enough trouble with people we elect continually trying to take more and more power from us that is not theirs to take without us voluntarily giving up even more of it to select people so they can accept (and with the passage of time, begin to demand) apologies from members of other races and ethnicities for things that are clearly racist and those that we choose to take as racist, because this is where such people draw their power. And of course once, empowered, these people will do whatever it takes to retain this power. The sad but inevitable result is that an honest conversation about race becomes impossible, because power is dependent upon finding something to be offended about. At some point, it simply becomes impossible to have any discussion about race, because in an environment where more people consider what they say, and re-examine their beliefs, there will be less to criticize, which means that the criticism of the remaining, more neutral remarks increases, until any mention of race at all will be racist. And the party of identity politics, the Democratic Party, knows this. Eric Holder, who is many things, but is not stupid, knows this. And yet we still hear it, but only when it applies to the rest of us. The last I looked, the Dems were the majority in the House and the Senate, and held the White House. Maybe its time for them to stop talking and start leading. By example.