Reid apologizes for questioning Obama’s racial authenticity; Update: Apology accepted, says Obama; Update: Sharpton backs Reid, of course; Update: Obama 2002: The GOP must drive Lott out

posted at 3:31 pm on January 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Whoa:

The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate apologized on Saturday for comments he made about Barack Obama’s race during the 2008 presidential bid.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada described then-Sen. Barack Obama as “light skinned” and “with no Negro dialect.” Obama is the nation’s first African-American president.

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments,” Reid said in a statement released after the excerpts were reported on the Web site of The Atlantic.

Why did Reid suddenly feel the need to confess?  He’s trying to beat the media to it:

Reid’s comments are included in a book set to be published on Monday. “Game Change” was written by Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann; the pair describe the book in interviews during Sunday’s “60 Minutes” on CBS.

Reid, facing a tough 2010 re-election bid, needs the White House’s help if he wants to keep his seat. Obama’s administration has dispatched officials on dozens of trip to buoy his bid and Obama has raised money for his campaign.

When Trent Lott made a foolish statement at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party about his presidential run on a segregation tick, the media outcry forced Lott to resign his leadership position.  Will this more explicit insult create any consequences for Reid?  It certainly won’t help his favorability ratings, which have tanked even before this incident.

Update (AP): That was fast.

Reid folks in overdrive to shut story down. Obama puts out statement on Reid’s apology: ” I accepted Harry’s apology without question.”

Update (AP): Reader Geoff A. e-mails with a reminder that when Don Imus made his own problematic racial crack a few years ago and then apologized, The One was … less forgiving.

Update (AP): A day dedicated to revisiting liberal racial hypocrisy ends happily, with a statement from demagogue par excellence Al Sharpton that all is instantly forgiven for his Democratic comrade in arms.

I have learned of certain unfortunate comments made by Senator Reid regarding President Barack Obama and have spoken with Senator Reid about those comments. While there is no question that Senator Reid did not select the best word choice in this instance, these comments should not distract America from its continued focus on securing healthcare or creating jobs for its people. Nor should they detract from the unquestionable leadership role Senator Reid has played on these issues or in the area of civil rights. Senator Reid’s door has always been open on hearing from the civil rights community on these issues and I look forward to continue to work with Senator Reid wherever possible to improve the lives of Americans everywhere.

Update (AP): A little more kindling on the flames of hypocrisy. Obama 2002:

“It seems to be that we can forgive a 100-year-old senator for some of the indiscretion of his youth, but, what is more difficult to forgive is the current president of the U.S. Senate (Lott) suggesting we had been better off if we had followed a segregationist path in this country after all of the battles and fights for civil rights and all the work that we still have to do,” said Obama.

He said: “The Republican Party itself has to drive out Trent Lott. If they have to stand for something, they have to stand up and say this is not the person we want representing our party.”


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