Harry Reid: Hey, maybe I chose my words poorly

Here’s as close as I get to a sincere prayer: Dear god, please send us some real news and deliver us from this days-long national navel-gaze about everyone’s favorite Serious Subject to wax profound upon. Yes, granted, it’s great fun to kick this moron around, especially given his own race-baiting of Clarence Thomas among others. And it’s a good excuse for sites like Politico to revisit his long history of idiotic remarks as his reelection campaign heats up. A sampler:

While Reid’s surrogates battle it out with Republicans, the incident once again highlights what Democrats acknowledge is one of Reid’s weaknesses as the leader of Senate Democrats — he’s neither a savvy public figure nor a gifted speaker, and he’s his own worst enemy when he goes off script.

Reid once asked a reporter whether she “spoke English” and urged her to “turn up your Miracle Ear.”

He once said you can tell it’s summertime at the Capitol “because you can smell the visitors, [who] stand out in the high humidity, heat, and they sweat.” He called President George W. Bush a “loser,” Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment” and Bill Frist, his predecessor as majority leader, “amateurish.” He referred to Alan Greenspan as a “hack.” And he had to backtrack after saying the U.S. was “losing” the war in Iraq.

It’ll be a joy to watch him flame out in November — provided Democrats don’t force him to take the Dodd/Dorgan route first, which some are already demanding that he do. But apart from the jarring fact that the Senate’s majority leader is given to using archaic terms like “negro,” leaving him a good 25-30 years behind the country’s racial-awareness curve, what did he say that was racist? I get Karol’s point that what he said might be offensiveto American voters, that is, not to blacks, insofar as it implies that Americans won’t vote for a darker-skinned candidate. The problem is, per Peter Beinart, there’s social-science evidence to suggest that skin shade and dialect really do affect electability (possibly among minority voters as well). That doesn’t mean that The One wouldn’t have beaten McCain if his skin were darker, but then, Reid never went that far. Here’s the exact quote from “Game Change”:

He was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama’s race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

In other words, he thought race would be an issue for some voters — which it surely was, albeit hopefully not for many — but that overall it could make Obama more electable, regardless of how light or dark his skin was. Not exactly a withering indictment of the voting public generally.

But whatever. Being an honest broker towards Reid won’t convince a single lefty to do the same the next time a Republican says something stupid, so that’s all I’ll say in his semi-defense. Exit question: How is it that Reid himself was the authors’ source for this quote? Did they promise him the interview would be off the record so that he’d speak candidly, before breaking their promise? Or did this tool simply not know better than to talk about “negro dialects” in front of reporters? Click the image to watch.