Favorite

Tale of two senators 

No amount of hypocrisy or insincerity will keep Republican campaigners from their appointed rounds of trashing Democrats.

Last week, a gossipy, anonymously sourced compilation of sometimes third-hand remarks about the 2008 presidential campaign got a lot of TV play. The book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, among others, quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as having privately said of candidate Barack Obama that he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

When outed, Reid, who said he thought he'd been talking off the record, apologized. He was an early Obama supporter and had been listing his political strengths. His main sin, in the eyes of critics, seems to be his use of the no-longer-politically-correct word Negro. Let us be honest. Obama's lack of “blackness,” if that's a word, was much discussed. It was even said that it caused some initial coolness to him in the black community – soon overcome with Bill Clinton's help.

Republicans, of course, pounced, because Reid is the lightning rod for health legislation. They drew a parallel to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's fall from grace in 2002 on account of racial politics. The Republican senatorial campaign committee blasted Sen. Blanche Lincoln for not calling for Harry Reid's scalp though she'd criticized Lott.

Let's review: Harry Reid said privately that Obama might fare well with some voters because he looked and sounded whiter than some black people. It's an uncomfortable idea to think about, much less to hear articulated with a now unacceptable word like Negro (as in United Negro College Fund). It is uncomfortable, also, because it happens to be true. It's not all about skin color, but also about speech, education, clothing and bearing. Many white people are more comfortable with Barack Obama than with Lil Wayne. (Some black people, too, I'd bet.)

Now Trent Lott. He said, at a public gathering of the like-minded, that if segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected  president on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948, the U.S. would have avoided all the “problems” it has experienced since. An endorsement of a segregationist presidential candidacy was bad enough, but Lott's context made it worse. Lott was a dogged opponent of civil rights legislation. He was a politician with a record of friendship with radical neo-Confederate types. If only Dixie had risen again in '48, Lott seemed to  be suggesting, the colored people (as in NAACP) would have been kept in their place.

Only a Republican deaf to hypocrisy could ignore the obvious difference. I leave it to you to consider the record of the Republican Party's affection for people of color – black, brown and red – for the last half-century. GOP voting patterns, elected representatives, state party leadership, opinions on people and issues and legislative history do not constitute an interracial Valentine.

The feigned outrage over Harry Reid's latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease would be laughable were it not also somewhat effective political propaganda.

 

CORRECTION: Relying on an account in another newspaper, I wrote in my last column that Little Rock garbage men make $7 to $9 an hour. Their lowest pay, said City Manager Bruce Moore, is a little over $11 an hour.  The premise of the column is unchanged. Some of the lowest paid workers in the city have been asked to take a pay freeze or been laid off while city taxpayers' subsidy of the unaccountable, private Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce was not cut.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Arkansas Tech settles dispute with lawmakers riled by 'Sex on the Lawn'

    Legislators have dropped an effort to kill the Department of Diversity and Inclusion at Arkansas Tech in a dispute that arose over a student sex education program.
    • Mar 22, 2017
  • Another bill to stock the prisons

    The Senate today voted 20-9 to pass Sen. Bryan King's bill that says a fourth commitment to the Arkansas Department of Correction means the person sentenced must serve at least 80 percent of the sentence before parole eligibility.
    • Mar 22, 2017
  • Midweek open line

    The open line and news roundup.
    • Mar 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • City Board discovers LRSD

    An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Supremely disappointing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Worse than N.C.'s bathroom bill

    SB 774 extends birth certificate requirement to bathrooms in all public facilities, and that's an original birth certificate, too.
  • Attack the poor

    If there is a unifying motif to the labors of Congress and the Arkansas legislature this spring it is to make life harder and existence more intolerable for the poor.
  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: City Board discovers LRSD

    • You reap what you sow, the seeds were planted when the Max Brantley's of LR,…

    • on March 20, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Diane, as noted above, this is a *column* not a news piece. So yes, it's…

    • on March 20, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • It's just amazing being told by a college professor that an editorial column is, um,…

    • on March 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation