Things are looking tense for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Back in 2008, reports the new book "Game Change," Reid praised presidential candidate Obama as a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect" — in other words, a possible winner. Now, pointing out that Sen. Trent Lott (R, Miss.) was forced out of Reid's job after making similarly racially insensitive remarks in 2002, RNC Chairman Michael Steele and other prominent Republicans are calling on Reid to resign. Will the embattled Reid, who's since apologized, survive the gaffe? (Watch THE WEEK's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about Harry Reid's gaffe)
Reid was stupid, but he's right: The truth is our culture is "an exquisitely color-sensitive" one, says Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. The darker the skin, the more we perceive a threat, and "do we all have to pretend we don’t know what Reid is talking about" as regards Obama's shifting "blaccent"? Reid's choice of words was "beyond stupid," but the GOP is insulting our intelligence by calling it racist.
"Harry Reid's ill-advised, accurate, analysis"
Reid's remarks were inescapably racist: Reid's "tone-deaf" comments, says John Hinderaker at Power Line, indirectly suggest that Reid thinks Obama's use of "proper English" is unusual, as if the country isn't "teeming with smart, articulate men and women who are wholly or partly of African descent." Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and Oprah Winfrey are all "considerably more articulate than Harry Reid."
"Harry Reid and Trent Lott — a specious comparison"
What's inescapable here is the double-standard issue: The question of Reid's racism is debatable, says Jonah Goldberg at National Review, but the Democrats' "double-standard issue is unavoidable." If "any Republican were caught speaking this way about Obama...liberal cries of racism would be filling the air." Still, it would be tactically dumb for the GOP to use the same "hateful and dispiriting tactic" in the "spirit of payback."
"Reid's Negro problem — and ours"
Michael "honest Injun" Steele is one to talk: "The real double standard here," says Nathan Empsall at MyDD, "is that Michael 'I got the fried chicken' Steele, he of the 'honest Injun' remarks, gets to get away with criticizing Reid over the whole affair." Reid may step down in November if loses his seat, but he's "not going anywhere" soon over his "Negro" gaffe.
"Harry Reid's future (and Michael "Fried Chicken" Steele's double standard)"
Reid is now, officially, unelectable: This isn't the first problem Sen. Reid has faced while trying to ensure his re-election in reccession-torn Nevada, says Chris Bower in Open Left, "but it should be the last." While it was once thought that Reid could use "his vast monetary advantage" to debase his GOP opponents, this scandal "has the potential to cut right at the heart of Reid's base, which is mainly the 30 percent of state voters who self-identify as non-white."
"Harry Reid has become unelectable"
SEE RELATED COVERAGE ON THE WEEK:
• Sunday Morning Talk Show Briefing—Was Harry Reid's 'Negro' dialect gaffe racist?
• 12 Biggest Controversies of 2009
• Michael Steele vs. the GOP
• Harry Reid vs. the GOP