Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Silly Does It Get?

It's hard to imagine that we could be witnessing an even more absurd talking point from Washington, but today it apparently happened:

Republicans called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign his leadership post over remarks he made in 2008 about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, adding to the Nevada Democrat's political troubles.

Mr. Reid, who supported Mr. Obama's candidacy, said in private remarks during the campaign that the country was ready for a "light-skinned" African-American president with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." The remarks are recounted in a new book, "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime."

Reid Is Under Fire for 2008 Remarks

As usual, the Republicans seem to feel the need to ratchet up the indignation a few orders of magnitude over what is warranted. Near as I can tell, the problem is with the phrase "Negro dialect", which might be thought a bit dismissive or insensitive. I'll leave to the people he's referring to to decide how offended they are.

However, it's nowhere near equivalent to what the GOP seems to want it to be equivalent to:

In a refrain echoed by other Republicans, party chairman Michael Steele said Mr. Reid should be held to the same standard as former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Mr. Lott was forced to resign his leadership post in 2002 after suggesting the nation would have been better off had it embraced the segregationist policies of presidential candidate Strom Thurmond more than a half century ago.

Reid Is Under Fire for 2008 Remarks

How wacko do you have to be to equate using an insensitive phrase with longing for the good old days of segregation?

There are plenty of things to fire Harry Reid over. His allowing the Republicans to slow the Senate to a crawl, his irresponsible extension of surveillance, and his boning middle class America with the health care "reform" bill are three things that he ought to be fired for, just to pull some off the top of my head.

This rates no more than an apology.

It's a measure of how silly our political discourse has become that anyone would suggest otherwise.

UPDATE (Jan. 11): At FireDogLake, Blue Texan has an anecdote about Lott's racist associates. It's from 1992, not from the Jim Crow days.

Since James Ala left a comment along these lines, let me just point out that I'm aware that this is a Republican strategy. Of course, they're trying to equate Reid with Lott, because they know there's a basically thoughtless part of their base that will reliably take up the chant. That doesn't mean this isn't silly rhetoric. In fact, it borders on hysterical.


Unknown said...

This is not as sill as you think Cujo359. This is classic Elephant attack strategy at its most shameless.

The logical fallacy of Reductio ad ad Lottium (sorry for the dog Latin) achieves two things it raises Reid's faux pas to the level of Lott's major blunder. It also reduces Lott's epic racist comment to a false equivalence with Reid's malapropism.

The Republicans get to hammer away at a Senator that already is having major problems in his home state. They also get a dig on the Democratic leadership and the Democratic Party.

The talking point also neatly dove-tails with their big lie that Democrats are the "real" racists. All you have to do is squint a little and forget everything the Republicans have done since the time of boll weevil Dixiecrats and Everett Dirkson. It also requires to forget how all those evil and despicable hard-core racist Dixiecrats eventually became Republicans. But hey, they have a nice token black face as leader of the RNC, so you will totally ignore how pasty-white and male the Elephants are.

Lastly this again proves what long memories the elephants have. They are still pissed that Lott was taken down by his comments. They want their pound of flesh; they want revenge. Harry Reid is vulnerable, and like the punks they are the Republicans will try to kick him while he is down.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, I realize that this is part of a strategy. They're counting on the all-too numerous bigots in their base to not understand the difference between saying something that's insensitive and being part of racist organizations. Those bigots will reliably take up the chant.

That doesn't make it any less silly. In fact, if this thing has any traction, which I'm fairly sure it won't, it will rise to the level of hysterical. If a significant portion of America can't tell the difference between these things, then we richly deserve the government we're getting right now.