Sometimes, you have to wonder why politicians open their mouths at all — but then, talk is their stock in trade. Especially when it comes to speaking about race in America, too many politicians paint themselves as embarrassingly out to lunch. The latest to do so is U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada.
Back in 2008, a brand new tell-all book on the presidential campaign reports, Reid "was wowed by [Barack] 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 later put it privately." Reid doesn't deny the two direct quotes attributed to him, and over the weekend he apologized to Obama in particular and to African-Americans generally.
He was right to do so. Reid seems to have meant to be complimentary toward the biracial Obama - one politician who actually does know how to write and talk about race intelligently - but his formulation was clumsy at best and seriously off-putting at worst. Obama was prompt in accepting the apology, and certainly he and the Democrats don't need the distraction.
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