Editorials

Republican Party's best friend may be Harry Reid

Republicans should tread carefully when it comes to criticizing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's racially insensitive comments.

For starters, the GOP needs to rethink the constant comparisons to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's fall from grace.

It's probably fair to complain about a double standard for liberals and conservatives when it comes to outrage generated by racial insensitivity among politicians.

But why remind Americans that Lott claimed America would be better off if voters had supported the Dixiecrat Party's segregationist ticket in the 1948 presidential election?

Sure, Lott apologized for the statement, and it's clear his intent wasn't to support segregation but rather to say something nice about Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday.

Even so, such a moronic comment is best forgotten.

At the time, we said Demo-crats ought to quit harping and look at their own failings -- and let Senate Republicans decide who they want to lead them.

That's good advice for the GOP today, especially given the mundane nature of Reid's offense.

Reid was quoted as saying that Barack Obama would make a good candidate because he's a "light skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Negro is no longer considered a politically correct word for black Americans, but other than using that archaic descriptor, we're having a tough time understanding what Reid did wrong.

No doubt millions of Americans of all races have speculated on the degree that Obama's skin tone and Ivy League rhetorical skills helped his candidacy.

It may be uncomfortable to confront the notion that Americans are more willing to accept a light-skinned candidate, but pigment remains a factor in race relations in America.

We kid ourselves to pretend otherwise.

But let's assume Reid has his moments of racial insensitivity. Do Republicans really want a country where every verbal slip becomes irrefutable and unforgivable proof of racism?

It's common enough to regret a remark and make amends with an apology. The experience might even be universal. Let's be more generous in giving others the benefit of the doubt.

If a double standard exists for conservatives and liberals who have apologized for unfortunate remarks, the remedy is to make things more tolerant for slip-ups on the right, rather than less tolerant for errant orators on the left.

But the biggest problem with the right's assault on Harry Reid?

It might succeed.

Let's face it. Conservatives couldn't hope for a less-effective majority leader in the Senate. You'd expect the minority to be cowering before the hurricane forces of the Democrats' 60-vote supermajority.

Under Reid's leadership, that supposedly unstoppable force is more like the rasping of an asthmatic smoker. Liberals, not conservatives, ought to be clamoring for his replacement.

File the move to oust Reid under "be careful what you wish for."

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