Watching Gwen Ifill, Al Sharpton and a plethora of African American news reporters and academics on MSNBC defend and excuse Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's racial slight makes you realize why the Democratic Party can take black voters for granted. There are absolutely no consequences for liberal elites to have differing public and private views on political issues. The Democratic Party even went so far to dismiss the disparaging comments by Joe Biden about Barack Obama being clean and articulate to nominate and confirm him as Vice President at their convention. Today, the sitting Vice President stands as the symbol of liberal elite's racial double standard.
It is troubling, however, why African American voters (and gay and lesbian voters too) give unwavering and unconditional support to a political party that ignores them once the fundraising is over. Keeping issues of race and equality squarely in the political sphere relegates the important topics to partisan bickering. Politics is a competitive sport after all.
There is also absolutely no question that there is a Democratic double standard with Reid's recent racial remarks as compared to the last time a Majority Leader made regrettable comments. Trent Lott's unfortunate comment at a 100th Birthday Party actually didn't say anything specific about race issues - the linkage was made by the media to suggest that the compliment honoring Strom Thurmond meant something that could be a code phrase supporting Strom's previous segregation stance. While the linkage was a jump, it made many people uncomfortable that a leader in the Senate was above reproach on race issues.
Reid's offensive comments, however, were actually specific to race. No extrapolation needs to be made to understand the derogatory words. What's even more ironic is that Reid's remarks were about the leader of his own political party. If Reid would have made the same remarks about a Republican then he would be under more political pressure to resign. However, liberal elites being who they are, the condescending remark by the leader of the Senate was quickly excused by most every Democrat, the President and the Congressional Black Caucus members.
What is clear is that Democratic elites talk privately one way with each other and another way publicly about race issues. Watching liberal elites justify the Reid remark this past weekend (see Al Hunt on This Week) and draw differences with Trent Lott's non-racial comment about race was as ridiculous as Al Sharpton dismissing the comment on Fox News or Gwen Ifill's outrageous defense of Reid's comments on NBC. Liberal elites are tripping over themselves to justify the Reid comment. It's also clear that the unwavering support to the Democratic Party by African-Americans, women and gays and lesbians feed into these public/private pronouncements on political issues. These groups need to look long and hard at the lessons we have learned this past weekend about the Senate Majority Leader's racial comments and the rush by Democratic leaders to excuse them. It's clear that Democrats don't have to pay attention to the concerns of these groups and can take them for granted.
Another lesson we learned this weekend is that Republicans are not safe discussing the issue of race but Democrats are. The double standard we see based on political party sends the message that Republicans best keep their mouths shut on the issue but Democrats are able to freely discuss sensitive racial matters and are even given a pass on any comments they make that seem offensive. Democrats successfully keep the issue of race as a political issue and thereby relegate it to something we should disagree on.
If Trent Lott was forced to resign as a Senate leader then there is no question that Reid must too. If the liberals now want to dismiss Reid's comments and instead talk about whether or not we have put too much attention on political gaffes, they should have brought this important subject up during the Trent Lott leadership debate. Today, Republicans get to choose whether to publicly call for Reid's resignation or whether to use the opportunity to talk about mistakes and forgiveness. The liberal elites, however, will undoubtedly be huddling privately to discuss the matter.