Republicans, generally lacking rational arguments or facts to support their views, frequently come up with bogus arguments based upon creating false equivalences. It was predictable that after Harry Reid’s comments on Barack Obama’s race were quoted in Game Change the Republicans would use them as grounds for attack. They are trying to compare Reid’s comments to those which led Trent Lott to resign.
Reid’s comments were in the context of supporting Barack Obama for president:
[His] encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. 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.
Lott’s were in the context of saying we would have been better off if we had elected a segregationist for president:
“I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
Lott’s downfall was a result not only of this comment but because of his association with segregationist and white supremacist groups. This history greatly influenced how this comment was evaluated.
Reid apologized for his remarks and Obama accepted the apology. Reid’s history on civil rights is far different than Lott’s. Al Sharpton released this comment in support of Reid:
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: More here as the Black Congressional Caucus defends Reid, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains how the attempts to compare Reid’s statement to the statement which forced Trent Lott out of office as an example of how the Republicans do not understand why they are seen as “a haven for racists,” and at least one conservative realizes that these bogus attacks will backfire on them.