Once again, the Democratic party that bought “identity politics” into the public square is about to teach the rest of us a lesson. So long as those who lead it raise taxes on the rest of us to promote social engineering, they can be as brazen as they like in their comments and as hypocritical as they dare in their public and private behavior. So Harry Reid can continue as Senate majority leader despite having asserted, in a statement of “support” for presidential candidate Barack Obama, that Obama was electable because he is “light skinned” and has “no Negro dialect.”
Why should Reid not be allowed to keep his job? After all, his party elevated former Klansman Robert Byrd to the very post Reid now holds only a few years after the West Virginian led a filibuster (the second longest in history) against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Democrats continued to laud Byrd as recently as 2001, the year Byrd used the “N” word in a Fox News Sunday interview with the late Tony Snow. As long as he provides the 60th vote for his party, they will continue throwing bouquets his way.
Republicans are right when they say that any Republican who uttered comments like those of Reid and Byrd would be run out of town on a rail. In 2002, with a push from George W. Bush and Karl Rove, Republicans demanded that Trent Lott step down as Senate majority leader after he voiced nostalgia for the days of the “Dixiecrats.” Like Reid, Lott apologized repeatedly for his remarks. Unlike Reid, his protestations did him little good. That was because the rest of Lott’s party did not want to suffer the discomfort of having the GOP’s Senate leader voice sentiments that could be characterized as racist. Republicans, while they may tolerate the personal transgressions of some of their elected officials (in my book, they have been too lenient for too long—see Ensign, Craig, Foley, and Vitter), as a group know the meaning of the word “shame.” The same cannot be said of Democrats.
Reid is but the latest in a long line of walking embarrassments the Democrats continue to parade on the national stage. The cast includes a Treasury secretary (Timothy Geithner) who did not pay all his taxes; a nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (Erroll Southers) who abused his authority as an FBI agent when he hacked into the criminal record of his wife’s boyfriend; and a White House budget director (Peter Orszag) who recently fathered a child out of wedlock, while serving a president who lectures about the tragedy of absentee fathers.
In political terms, the GOP might be advised to cease calling for Reid’s resignation. Like Orszag and the others, he can do Republicans the most good right where he is.
– Alvin S. Felzenberg, author of The Leaders We Deserve and a Few We Didn’t: Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game, is writing a book about NR founder William F. Buckley Jr.