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

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • The assault weapon open line

    The open line. And report of the arrest of a man with an AR-15 who threatened to shoot people at a Springdale business.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A primary challenger for Rep. Laurie Rushing

    Blue Hog Report has some news on a Republican primary challenge of an incumbent legislator, Rep. Laurie Rushing, by Ernie Hinz of Hot Springs.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A common-sense gun measure draws no sponsors from Arkansas

    Republicans, including at least one from Arkansas, are talking about repealing the Dickey Amendment which prohibits gun research from a public health perspective. But none of them are yet willing to DO anything about it.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Most Shared

  • A mayor stands up against freeway widening. No. Not in Little Rock.

    Another booming city, Indianapolis, fights ever wider urban freeways. Meanwhile, back in Little Rock .....
  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Love, Ark Blog

    Things you might have missed if you don't read the Arkansas Blog.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Police problems

    Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner's surprise emergence as a candidate for a higher-paying job in a smaller city (Charleston, S.C.) is a commentary on the fraught relationship of police with the Little Rock community and a city government structure in need of change.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • Lock him up

    To no one's surprise, Republican state Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith entered a negotiated guilty plea Monday in federal court to bank and wire fraud and money laundering charges.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

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  

Most Viewed

  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Out of control

    • And Olphart - hey, That is a witty reply - good for you!

    • on February 17, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • Oh for god's sake - read the play - just read the play before going…

    • on February 16, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • Aloysius, Not even a large man with a bodyguard detail acting in a way intended…

    • on February 16, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation