January 10, 2010
It all started when excerpts from a new book filled with tawdry gossip from the 2008 presidential campaign were leaked, soon flooding cyberspace. Most infamous was the comment by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said that Barack Obama could win because he didn't have a "Negro dialect." (See politico.com.) Well, isn't that special? It's not the first time that a Democrat has used implicit racist words about Obama, and it probably won't be the last. The book is called Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
The question is, just how serious is the verbal offense? Is it enough to warrant replacing Reid as leader of the Senate? He is not exactly a soul-stirring leader, after all. What about the partisan angle? Are Democrats living up to the same high standard to which Republican leaders are being held by the mainstream media? Some have compared Reid's gaffe to then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's unseemly praise for segregationist Strom Thurmond in December 2002. Of Lott, I wrote that "if he's going to hand the Democrats an issue on a silver platter like this, it's obviously time for him to step aside." If I were a Democrat right now, I would say the same thing about Reid. But since I'm not, I hope he stays as the Democrats' leader in the Senate!
For the moment, Reid's ill-chosen words may take the heat off RNC Chairman Michael Steele. (According to Mike Allen at politico.com, however, Steele stood behind Lott when that December 2002 flap took place, suggesting a lack of consistency.) Steele has been criticized lately for taking money for speeches he has given, and whose new book has a lot of harsh criticism about the GOP. For a party leader, however, he does seem unduly pessimistic about the electoral prospects this November. More on that subject later.
In apparent response to the scandal over the leaked e-mail messages exposing a scientific coverup at East Anglia University last month, activists from Greenpeace have launched a counteroffensive here in Virginia: They are filing a Freedom of Information Act request for all communications sent and received by U.Va. professor Patrick Michaels since he was named as the state climatologist in the 1980s. See the News Leader. It could take years to gather and sift through all that material, and what could it possibly prove? I think it's like a frivolous lawsuit, and will only further diminish Greenpeace's image among those who care more about the environment than politics.
I must confess that over the past few months, I have fallen out of the habit of following some of my favorite blogs, such as Instapundit, authored by Glenn Reynolds. Maybe there's a good reason, in the case of that blog, at least. At True Slant, blogger Conor Friedersdorf expresses one of my misgivings about Reynolds: "he too often writes posts whose pithiness comes at the expense of substance, accuracy or integrity." What he means to say is that Reynolds' terse and ironic style of writing is aimed at his regular readers who already know his attitudes and pet peeves. It's an enormous yet very closed social group, with their own language and buzz-words that are indecipherable to outsiders, much like the in-crowd at the local shopping mall. It's an unhealthy tendency that inevitably creates misunderstandings and undermines broader political discourse in the country. It may simply be another one of those unstoppable trends engendered by the Internet, however. Hat tip to Bruce Bartlett.
Speaking of which, you folks in Rio Linda ... Nah, I won't go there.
For a hilarious and uplifting protest against Obamacare, watch and listen to Ray Stevens's new song, "We the People" at youtube.com. It is excellent!!! As I noted on Facebook, I'm actually old enough to remember his song "Wildwood Flower" from 1970 or so.