The Politically Motivated Forgiveness Of Harry Reid

How many of you want to take Barack Obama’s “forgiveness” of Harry Reid for his past offensive comments as legitimate forgiveness? Perhaps we ought to look at how he and other Democrats have treated other controversial comment made by a Republican. The Trent Lott incident comes to mind.

Back in 2002, Obama said of Trent Lott:

“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.”

How about Harry Reid?

“As a Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada will not have a vote when Republicans determine Lott’s fate next month. ‘As closely as I’ve worked with him, I don’t know how in the world I could condone, support or understand his statements,’ said Reid, the Senate Democratic whip. ‘I think what he said is not good for America; it’s repugnant what he said.’ ‘If Republicans think it’s best for Democrats to keep him there, maybe they’ll get rid of him,’ Reid said.” (Tony Batt and Jane Ann Morriso, “Ensign Continues To Back Lott As Majority Leader,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/17/02)

And when Lott resigned his leadership position, Reid said,

“Sen. Harry Reid said Republican Senate leader Trent Lott’s decision to relinquish his post Friday came as no surprise. ‘He had no alternative,’ the Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader said. ‘Senator Lott dug himself a hole and he didn’t dig it all in one setting. He dug it over the years. And he couldn’t figure out a way to get out of it.’” (“Nevada Lawmakers Not Surprised By Lott Resignation,” The Associated Press, 12/20/02)

How about other Democrats? Here’s a sample I received in my inbox this morning.

Senator Mary Landrieu:

“U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she doubts a censure motion would ever reach the Senate floor, but would vote for such a measure if it did. ‘I think the remarks could not have been more hurtful and more direct and more out of place,’ Landrieu said. But the Senate doesn’t ordinarily censure members for distasteful speech, she said, reserving that rebuke for ‘actions.’ Landrieu said it’s up to Senate Republicans to decide whether Lott should give up his leadership job. ‘I can tell you if a Democratic leader said such a thing, they would not be allowed to keep their position,’ Landrieu said.” (“Bush Condemns Remark, Accepts Lott’s Apology,” The Advocate [Baton Rouge, Louisiana], 12/13/02)

Then-Senator Joe Biden:

“‘What he said was insensitive as hell; it’s very offensive,’ said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who read about the furor after returning Tuesday from a trip to the Middle East. ‘Race is serious stuff. It’s not something you kid about.’” (Erin Kelly, “Del. Lawmakers, Civil Rights Leaders Condemn Lott’s Comments,” Gannett News Service, 12/13/02)

Senator Evan Bayh

“Democrats, who had spent much of the last two weeks criticizing Lott’s statement, praised his decision to resign and pledged to work with the next Senate Republican leader. ‘There is a standard for all of us in public life that must be met, and his ability to lead was severely damaged. The American people expect and deserve leaders who share their values,’ Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana said in a statement. ‘As we move forward, I hope we can use this unfortunate incident as a springboard to continue the civil rights progress that we have made over the last forty years.’” (Craig Linder, “Ceding To Controversy, Lott Says He Will Not Be Majority Leader In Next Congress,” States News Service, 12/20/09)

Senator Barbara Boxer:

“More typical were comments from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who stopped short of calling for Lott to leave. ‘His apology does not take away the sting of his divisive words, nor the pain inflicted on millions of African Americans under segregation,’ she said.” (Edward Epstein, “Bush Calls Lott’s Remark ‘Wrong,’” The San Francisco Chronicle, 12/13/02)

Senator Maria Cantwell:

“Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Lott’s remarks at a birthday party for 100-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., ‘were disturbing and hurtful. Our country needs unity, not division. He (Lott) must show through his actions that he understands the importance of his apology.’” (Gregg Herrington, “State’s Two Democratic Senators And Gop Chairman Take Lott To Task For Remarks,” The Columbian [Vancouver, WA], 12/14/02)

Then-Senator Hillary Clinton:

“One Democrat, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, said the GOP must decide whether Lott ‘represents the views of the majority of Republicans in the Senate and in our country.’” (Ron Kampeas, “Some Republicans Say Lott’s Apology Should End Controversy,” The Associated Press, 12/14/02)

Senator Dick Durbin:

“‘We need political leaders who are healers, not dividers,’ Durbin said. ‘I hope that Senator Lott’s apology will translate into action and that he will advance policies that bring us together as a nation rather than pull us apart.’” (Dori Meinert, “Fitzgerald, Simon Support Lott In Racial Controversy,” Copley News Service, 12/13/02)

Senator Russ Feingold:

“Sen. Russ Feingold Thursday called on Sen. Trent Lott to resign as GOP leader over comments Lott made last week about Strom Thurmond’s pro-segregationist 1948 presidential campaign. ‘Given the tragic history of race relations in this country, and the role the 1948 campaign played in it, his statement was especially hurtful,’ Feingold, D-Wis., said in a statement.” (“Feingold Calls On Lott To Resign As GOP Leader,” The Associated Press, 12/12/02)

Senator Dianne Feinstein:

“‘When connected to past comments and votes, this statement casts a dark shadow over Sen. Lott’s ability to be a credible party leader,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a written statement. Feinstein, the state’s senior senator, said she condemns any statement that holds segregation as anything but morally repugnant.” (Chris H. Sieroty, “California Lawmakers, Analysts Scold Lott,” Inland Valley Daily Bulletin [Ontario, CA], 12/28/02)

Senator Tom Harkin:

“Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa issued a blistering condemnation Thursday night of controversial remarks by Republican Sen. Trent Lott, saying it is ‘shocking’ that the White House has not urged Lott to step down as the incoming majority leader. ‘Or is this a not-too-subtle message to closet bigots and Southern white supremacists that their true political home is the GOP?’ Harkin asked in a prepared statement. . . . Said Harkin: ‘Senator Lott may utter apologies and explanations, but where is his outright condemnation of exactly what Strom Thurmond stood for -segregation and white supremacy?’ Harkin added that ‘it’s in unguarded moments like these we see past the polished veneer.’” (Jane Norman, “Harkin Shocked GOP Is Willing To Keep Lott As Majority Leader,” Des Moines Register, 12/13/02)

Senator John Kerry:

“Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday demanded that Senate GOP Leader Trent Lott resign his powerful leadership post for making racially charged comments praising Sen. Strom Thurmond’s segregationist 1948 presidential campaign. ‘I simply do not believe the country can today afford to have someone who has made these statements again and again be the leader of the United States Senate,’ said Kerry (D-Mass.), wading into a national controversy as he prepares his 2004 White House bid.” (Andrew Miga, “Kerry: Lott Must Resign,” Boston Herald, 12/12/02)

Senator Blanche Lincoln:

“‘The sentiments expressed by Senator Lott’s words last week have no place in today’s America,’ Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat, said in a statement. ‘If he truly believes a Strom Thurmond presidency would have been good for the country, then he is out of touch with the U.S. Senate and certainly with a great majority of Americans. ‘Senator Lott owes the nation a thorough explanation of his words recorded in 1980 and again last week. Racism and bigotry once divided America and we cannot tolerate words that might send us back there.’” (Paul Barton, “Lott’s Remarks Draw Arkansas Reproach,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 12/12/02)

Senator Barbara Mikulski:

“Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland said Lott’s comments ‘demonstrate a glaring insensitivity to the pain African-Americans suffered as a result of segregation and discrimination.’” (Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Lott Repeats Apologies, Rejects Calls To Resign As Senate Leader,” The Baltimore Sun, 12/14/02)

Senator Patty Murray:

“Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the comments by Lott, R-Miss., ‘were offensive, hurtful and wrong. Worst of all, they do not appear to be isolated remarks. At a time when our country should stand as one, (the comments) serve only to divide. Americans deserve leaders who will stand up for the civil rights of all citizens.’” (Gregg Herrington, “State’s Two Democratic Senators And Gop Chairman Take Lott To Task For Remarks,” The Columbian [Vancouver, WA], 12/14/02)

Senator Debbie Stabenow

“Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, described Lott’s comments as ‘outrageous’ and ‘completely inexcusable.’ ‘Those kinds of comments have no place in our society and should be repudiated by every American,’ Stabenow said in a statement. ‘At this point, the Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate needs to think long and hard about the kind of values they want their leadership to represent.’” (Katherine Hutt Scott, “Mich. Delegation Members From Both Parties Criticize Lott Remarks,” Gannett News Service, 12/14/02)

You get the idea. Democrats must oust Harry Reid now if they want any credibility on racial issues.

GOP Chairman Michael Steele says it perfectly:

“There is this standard where Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it is racism,” Steele told “Fox News Sunday.”

Even Al Sharpton is defending Harry Reid. One has to wonder what kind of donation he’s getting in exchange for his support of Reid. As my friend Ali Akbar put it, “The only color Al Sharpton has chosen to value in this situation is GREEN.”

UPDATE: Will Martha Coakley, the Democrat hoping to replace Ted Kennedy, condemn Harry Reid?

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