Harry Reid is NO Trent Lott

So race and racism continue to dominate the national dialogue, such as the national dialogue is. (Hey, at least it got me off of the topic of how much I hate the fucking baby boomers…)

The Repugnicans are now asserting that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s private comments about Barack Obama’s race — that Obama is light-skinned (true) and that Obama doesn’t speak with a “Negro” dialect (also true) — are equivalent to Repugnican former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott’s public comment that the nation would have been a lot better off had segregationist Strom Thurmond been elected president in 1948. Lott, of Mississippi, which never has been known for racism, stepped down as Senate minority leader in 2002 because of his controversial remark. Repugnicans are calling for Reid to step down, too, and are asserting that if he doesn’t, it’s indicative of a double standard.

Gee, there’s no difference there at all! One guy said that Obama is a light-skinned black guy and that he talks like a white guy, both of which are, um, true, and the other guy said that the nation would have taken a much better course had a segregationist from Mississippi been made president in 1948. Presumedly, had we had a President Thurmond instead of a President Truman in January 1949, that whole stupid, unnecessary Civil Rights Movement thing might have been avoided, and Negroes today would still know their place! 

Oh, puhfuckinglease. There’s no valid comparison between Reid’s comments and Lott’s.

Harry Reid, who was born in 1939, for fuck’s sake, is as old as dirt and was born and raised in the very lily-white state of Utah, for fuck’s sake, and so he’s still saying “Negro.”

The word “Negro” grates on these much younger white ears, but, as Rachel Maddow recently discussed on her show, as “Negro” routinely was used by blacks themselves during the Civil Rights Movement, some blacks, especially older blacks, still embrace the term. So I’ll leave it to blacks to decide whether or not they find the term “Negro” offensive. (Personally, I find it at least antiquated if not offensive.)

Then you have Trent Lott, born in 1941 — more or less Reid’s contemporary — but he hails from the former slave state of Mississippi, where he was born and raised. In December 2002, at segregationist Mississippi Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday gathering (Thurmond would die the following year, thank God), Lott said this:

“When Strom Thurmond ran for president [on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948], 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 the years, either.”

So blacks are a “problem,” I guess, not too much unlike the Nazis’ “Jewish problem.”

Repugnicans: When you compare Reid’s comments to Lott’s, are you lying, as usual, or are you actually that fucking stupid?

Continuing on the topic of race, the racist Repugnicans (I know, redundant) are also having major buyer’s remorse over their knee-jerk, racist selection of Michael Steele as the head of the Repugnican Party in January 2009 in reaction to Obama’s election to the White House a couple of months before.

Just as the stupidly impulsive selection of Sarah Palin-Quayle as John McCainosaurus’ running mate was the Repugnicans’ knee-jerk reaction to Obama’s having choosen a male running mate over Billary Clinton — and cynically was meant to tell the nation, “See? We Repugnicans love women even more than the Democrats do!” — Steele’s stupidly impulsive selection apparently cynically was meant to tell the nation, “See? The Repugnicans love black people, too! (Nevermind that whole Hurricane Katrina thing…)”

Regardless of his skin color, the self-serving, book-promoting Steele (it’s not surprising that he’s self-serving, since he is, after all a baby boomer, and, true to his boomer self, Steele must have figured: Why take a big job if you can’t further personally profit from it by writing a book?) has been a fuck-up for the Repugnicans, but, as Politico notes, should the Repugnicans dump him, as many if not most of them want to do, it could make the Repugnicans look like the racists that they are. Reports Politico:

Among top GOP operatives in Washington, there is overwhelming majority sentiment that the Republican National Committee blundered a year ago when it tapped Michael Steele as its chairman.

There is equally strong sentiment among members of the RNC about what Republicans can do it about it now: nothing.

Steele’s status as a high-profile African-American at a time when Republicans are facing serious headwind because of their weakness among non-white voters was a big part of his appeal a year ago. And it is a part of the reason many GOP strategists lament that he is untouchable even though they think the party would be better off to make a change from someone they regard as an unfocused and gaffe-prone leader.

 “I don’t think there is any chance he’s going to be dumped before the next election for the obvious reason,” said one of the party’s most influential strategists and a key player on presidential campaigns.

Asked why that would be, the Republican, who is not on the party committee, shot back: “You’re not going to dump the first African-American chairman. That’s the only reason. Otherwise, he’d be gone.”

A longtime member of the party committee added: “The optics of pushing any chairman out don’t look very good, but [Steele’s race] puts a much finer point on it.”

Those optics are fairly straightforward.

The perception of an overwhelmingly white party launching a coup to take out a black leader when the country has its first African-American in the White House would be disastrous, say senior Republicans — a bigger distraction to the party than Steele’s frequent off-message detours are now.

As always, the politics of race is a delicate matter. Few in the party’s ranks want to discuss the matter openly. But in recent days the volume of the on-background second-guessing over the original pick of Steele has reached new levels.

Just in the past month, he’s drawn fire for giving paid speeches, not calling major donors, writing a book that criticizes the GOP, not alerting members of Congress about the book, promoting the book and, worst of all, saying in a national television interview that his party couldn’t retake the House this fall….

While it’s true that Jesus Christ himself couldn’t perform the miracle of making the Repugnican Party look good, again, regardless of his race, it seems to me that the bumbling Steele should be canned. His ouster wouldn’t make me believe now that the Repugnican Party is racist, since it was his selection in the first place that demonstrated how racist the Repugnican Party is.

To me, it’s racist to make any hiring decision regarding a person primarily because of his or her race (with very few exceptions, such as, say, casting a movie or a play). I see little difference between hiring a man because he’s black and not hiring him because he’s black. In either case, if race is your main criterion, you’re a fucking racist.

Anyway, Politico notes of Steele:

Still, barring a major revelation that would prompt the votes of the two-thirds of committee members necessary to get rid of a party chair, Steele will almost certainly serve out his two-year term, which ends a year from now. But should he decide to pursue re-election, the same dilemma will probably loom in January 2011…. 

Note that in all of this discussion over race, President Obama is, as usual, for whatever reason or reasons, keeping out of it…

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1 Comment

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One response to “Harry Reid is NO Trent Lott

  1. Brienne

    No, no, no…
    Trent Lott stepped down after that remark, but that was just the final straw in his long, well-documented history of racist words and deeds.
    I agree with everything else in this post!

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