Sen. Reid Has A Lott To Learn From


January 14, 2010

Raynard Jackson

In light of the recent revelation of Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) comments about President Obama’s race, I feel compelled to try to add some sanity to the debate.

Sen. Reid is quoted as having said, “Obama could win the White House because he was a “light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

This was a stupid comment, but not worthy of all the attention it is receiving.  Does this mean Reid is a racist? Of course not.  We must stop ignoring a public official’s body of work just to score political points when the person makes an ill-advised comment.  We all have said and done things we would not want the public to know about.

I have first hand experience with this type of situation.  I helped former senator Trent Lott (R-MS) when he got caught up in a similar situation as Reid.  Lott was and still is a good friend.  Unlike Lott, Reid has the total support of the White House.  But, Reid should be under no illusion, if they didn’t need him to pass the president’s health care bill, the support from some quarters of the administration might be different.

Reid is about to find out who his true friends are.  I can assure you, that Lott has already reached out to Reid and given his unequivocal support and council.  Lott can provide him with a great deal of insight on how to navigate this situation.  Lott’s resignation as majority leader had little to do with his comments about Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and everything to do with his political enemies seeing an opportunity to dethrone him as senate majority leader.  Bush and Rove later lived to regret pulling the rug from underneath Lott.

What I find more disturbing than what Reid said or even Bill Clinton’s comment about Obama getting him coffee is the feigned shock by those who have no public record of speaking out on racial issues.  These people all of a sudden are filled with “unrighteous” indignation.  People like Liz Cheney (Dick Cheney’s eldest daughter).  I can find no record of her ever criticizing the people carrying signs calling President Obama “communist, fascist, Hitler,” etc.   She has never publically chastised Rush Limbaugh when he makes inflammatory remarks with racial overtones, nor the birthers, who claim Obama is not a U.S. citizen.  With a name like Cheney, she has absolutely no standing to speak on anything racial, especially when it comes to Blacks.

If the issue is race, you can count on white, conservative front groups trotting out their favorite Blacks to attack liberals who cross the lines of race.  Groups like Project 21 have trotted out people like Robert George, Mychal Massie, Bob Parks, Lisa Fritsch, and of course, no list would be complete without the obligatory addition of Ward CONnerly.  He is a Black man that made his money off, then governor of California, Pete Wilson’s affirmative action programs.  Then one day he was told to be against affirmative action and he just couldn’t wait to get in front of a microphone.  So, when white folks need a Black to trot out to speak against affirmative action, CONnerly is conditioned to volunteer without being called on.

When radical liberal groups like the NAACP, or the Congressional Black Caucus say that Lott’s comment were racist and Reid’s were not; what they mean is they agree with how Reid votes, therefore he can’t be racist.  I disagree with most things the Catholic Church stands for, but does that make me anti-Catholic?  Why can’t Lott disagree with Blacks on affirmative action, King’s birthday, or certain government programs without being labeled a racist?

How many of you know that Lott was one of the main sponsors of a bill that allocated over a billion dollars to Black universities to update their technology infrastructure?  Blacks must be more strategic and less emotional.  Just because one disagrees with a person’s voting record does not mean the person is a racist.  This is part of the reason for the push back on a lot of racial issues by whites.  They don’t want to be vilified simply because they have a different view.  Any fair minded person would agree.  That’s why dialogue is very important in matters like these.

I expected Michael Steele to call for Reid’s resignation.  As party chair, that’s what he is supposed to do.  But, I wish he and his director of coalitions, Angela Sailor, would be just as vocal criticizing those within and affiliated with the Republican Party.  Sailor sent out an email this week detailing the democrat’s hypocrisy in defending Reid.  But she never sends out an email criticizing all the race-filled, hateful, insulting statements from Republicans who refuse to accept the fact that we have a duly elected Black president.  Where is her email repudiating the vile comments Limbaugh made yesterday about Obama and the earthquake in Haiti?  And they wonder why they can’t get Blacks to participate in the party (not that this is one of their goals).

For every Republican who makes a racially insensitive remark, I can find a Democrat who has done the same.  So, after we have finished pointing fingers at each other, what have we accomplished? Absolutely nothing.

Reid and Lott are both good men. .  I don’t know Sen. Reid personally, but I will definitely go to war with and for Sen. Lott!

By all accounts, Reid and Lott are decent people and should be viewed through the totality of their lives.  If the senator from Nevada’s life were a book, I would consider it a good Reid!

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

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