So now we learn that back in 2008, Harry Reid told someone in private that even though President Barack Obama might be black, he did not have a “Negro dialect” and he was “light-skinned.” The apparent implication was that Obama could therefore be elected.
What are we to make of this? That Reid is a racist? Almost surely not. Just that his word choice again demonstrates the sensitivity of a brick.
Once, when I was writing a column mentioning the Senate majority leader, I found myself writing “Homer Reid,” immediately caught the mistake, asked myself why I made it, and realized it was because I had momentarily confused him in my mind with Homer Simpson, the affable, bumbling cartoon character seen on TV.
Get Homer Simpson in this job, and next thing you know he’ll be saying Tea Party protesters are “evil mongers”; you can “smell” Washington tourists in the summer; the Iraq war “is lost”; he “can’t stand John McCain”; George W. Bush is “a loser”; Ted Kennedy’s death is “going to help” the Democrats; and former Federal reserve boss Alan Greenspan was a “political hack,” along with other notable Reid gaffes I found on an Internet reminder list.
If Homer were the big cheese in the Senate at this moment, it’s easy to imagine his falling in love with a health bill that could help ruin the country economically, would make it more the sort of welfare state much of Western Europe is trying to escape and that would accomplish virtually nothing it promises.
Republicans have caught on to this charade? Why then, Homer, why don’t you stand up in the Senate and say they’re just like those 19th-century Southerners who wanted to preserve slavery of blacks? No difference. None. Same thing.
Want more analysis of this stripe? Well, Senate Majority Leader Simpson will say, opposing this bill is like opposing giving women the vote. So there!
We viewers tend to forgive Homer his trespasses because we’re aware he seldom quite gets it, and so if he decides to buy votes in service of this health bill monstrosity, the country may forgive the corruption. And after all, it’s not the first time we’ve had morally barren leaders who just got through pretending to be morally superior.
Even if Reid’s Obama remarks weren’t racist, his remarks some years back calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment” and saying his opinions are “poorly written” may be a different story, especially since some of us think Thomas is extraordinarily lucid in his prose. A couple of commentators I’ve run across have wondered whether Reid wasn’t engaging in a stereotype — you know, the kind that says those folks aren’t usually all that literate.
I think that’s just possibly the case.
Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at Speaktojay@aol.com.