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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Double Standard

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who now finds himself in a tight re-election campaign with poor poll numbers,  is also fighting a different battle of a whole other ballgame.  Reid in a tell all book about the 2008 presidential campaign  told author Mark Halperin  that then Senator Barack Obama is "light skinned with no Negro dialect."  Reid was under the impression that his rather offensive statement  about African- Americans and in particular Barack Obama would not be published in Halperin's new book which is set to be released soon. Well, Harry badly miscalculated. Reid was betting that his comment would go unnoticed. Well, the Atlantic Magazine somehow got word of Reid's comment and published it on their website.  OOPS.  Now, Reid who did not intend on apologizing for his comment,  was forced to apologize. He immediately called Obama to apologize. He reached out to Al Sharpton & Co. and phoned several fellow Senators. All has been forgiven with little fanfare.

Lets contrast this episode with another Senate Majority Leader. Remember Trent Lott?  Back in 2002, Trent Lott(R-MS), who was then the Republican Senate Majority Leader from Mississippi, praised Strom Thurmond at his 100th birthday party stating that if Thurmond had been elected President, we would not have had "all these problems."  Lott was trying to say something nice about a 100 yr. old Senator. Unfortunately, the comment backfired because Thurmond was a prominent segregationist and many people attributed Lott's comment about Thurmond to be his support for segregation. If you remember, the uproar over that statement could be heard from Washington all the way to California.  Lott ended up apologizing incessantly on numerous occasions. He even went on Black Entertainment Television to reach out to the Black community. It did not matter how much Lott apologized, it was not going to quell the calls for his resignation. The Black community was not satisfied with Lott's apologies and ultimately Lott had to resign as the Senate Majority Leader. 

Regardless of how you feel about whether Lott's or Reid's statements were racist in nature, there is a serious double standard in this country.  When a Republican makes an offensive comment about African-Americans and apologizes repeatedly, he is never forgiven and must suffer the political consequences of being forced to resign. However, when a Democrat makes a similar comment that offends African-Americans, he only has to apologize once or twice and gets off scotch free. We have not heard a peep from the Black Caucus or any prominent Democrat criticizing Harry Reid for making his offensive remark that he only apologized for because he got caught. Here,  a liberal radio host  calls for Trent Lott to resign back in 2002. Gdforbid the Democrat party should also call for Reid to resign. The only person at this point who is calling for Reid's resignation is Michael Steele of the RNC.  Not a surprise.

Instead of calling for Reid's resignation, Michael Steele and the RNC should file a claim in Federal District Court alleging a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution although I doubt such a case would be ripe for review.   Nevertheless, that might be a better course of action. Otherwise, this double standard  of treating Republicans different from Democrats will continue indefinitely.

I wonder how many Democrats will praise KKK Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) when he is no longer in office and get off the hook.