Should Harry Reid Resign?

January 12th, 2010

By Tom Carter

Apparently there’s no end to the political dust being kicked up by Game Change, the new book on the 2008 presidential campaigns by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.  Politicians left and right are being wounded by their own words and the assessments of their own staffs.   

As anyone who’s turned on a TV or opened an internet browser in the past few days, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is this latest victim skewered in the book. 

The authors report Reid said to them in an interview that

Obama could win the White House because he was a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Well, that one certainly set loose the dogs of the culture war.  The usual suspects are nipping at Reid’s heels, calling him a racist and howling for his resignation from the Senate leadership.  The other usual suspects are rallying around him, howling back that that he’s not a racist and shouldn’t resign.

Many on the right are resurrecting the case of Trent Lott, who was hounded out of his job as Senate Majority Leader.  Lott’s sin against political correctness happened at the 100th birthday party for the aged, doddering, and wheel-chair bound Senator Strom Thurmond, who was then the longest serving senator in history.  Consistent with the Senate’s traditions of gentlemanly behavior and trying to be nice to the old man, Lott said

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.

Trent Lott isn’t a racist, but that wasn’t the point.  In the eyes of the left, he was guilty of an even greater sin — he was a conservative and a Republican.  The left, with whole-hearted support from the media, hounded him out of the position of Senate Majority Leader and ruined his political career.  The Republican Party, including President Bush, did little to defend him, fearing being branded yet again as racists.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, many of those who viciously attacked Lott are defending Reid.  Lott totally humbled himself by apologizing to everyone he could find, and Reid has done a lot of apologizing, too.  The difference is Reid’s apologies are being accepted by the arbiters of political correctness, while Lott’s were sneered at.

I agree with President Obama, who accepted Reid’s personal apology and said, “As far as I’m concerned, the book is closed.”  He also said, in an interview broadcast on CNN today,

…for him to use inartful language when trying to praise me, and when people try to take advantage of that, to make hay out of that, makes no sense to me.

Reid and Lott both said stupid, “inartful” things that they almost certainly wouldn’t have said if they’d taken a moment to think.  Neither of them is a racist.  Reid shouldn’t resign, and Lott shouldn’t have resigned, either.  It’s time we stopped attacking each other over trivial issues of political correctness. 

*  *  *

The more I read about Game Change, the more impatient I get to read the book itself.  In another article about the book, Politico summarized:     

That is the book’s central theme: that Clinton, John Edwards, and John McCain were all brought down by their personal flaws, and probably deserved to be. Obama alone matches up, more or less, to his public portrait. McCain shoots as wildly from the hip as observers ever imagined. Edwards is more the empty suit, his wife more Lady Macbeth, than their worst enemies alleged.

Bill Clinton, too, appears to confirm the worst campaign-trail gossip: shrewd but uncontrollable, believed by his own aides to be philandering, and the source of catastrophic decisions in January 2008.

*  *  *

For more information:

Harry situation: Inside the Reid eruption, Politico
Lott apologizes for Thurmond comment, CNN
Game over: The Clintons stand alone, Politico

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3 Responses to “Should Harry Reid Resign?”

  1. d |

    Strom was against the civil rights movement,and was a racist,that’s the difference. No,Reid ashould not resign,but Lott,yes. Reid said the truth,Lott agreed with a racist being president,don’t see the difference?

  2. Lisa |

    I was stunned to hear the comments Harry Reid made, coming from a seasoned politician who has been in the public spotlight for years. The words speak for themselves. Period!!

    I also understand that the “Game Change” has a passage in there which talks about Harry Reid approaching Barack Obama and encouraging him to run for president with the backing of the democratic congress. This was specifically done to turn the tide against Hillary Clinton not necessarily to support Obama. That is why Barack Obama so immediately accepted Reid’s apology, not to mention Harry Reid’s current role in healthcare reform.

    As for Trent Lott, his remarks do not mention anything racist. There is alot of presumption that he was referring specifically to Strom Thurmond’s position on race.

  3. Tom |

    On the one hand, I agree that Reid certainly should have known better. On the other, though, lots of people in visible public positions do things they should know they can’t get away with, or at least can’t get away with forever. Look at Governor Sanford, for example, taking off for a week in Argentina to meet a girlfriend, apparently thinking he could get away with it. Rarely do those things work out the way people think, or hope, they will.

    As far as Lott and Reid are concerned, they both said very stupid things. There are all kinds of ways to try to explain them — they were true, nothing bad was intended, etc — but the other side is always going to leap at any opening.

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