white noise

by Jordan Green

white noise

News and views from inside the media bubble

Partisan distractions

A partisan-tinged discussion of Harry Reid’s remark during the 2008 campaign that Barack Obama could win the presidency because he was “light skinned” and “had no Negro dialect” — this is still news? — raged at Ed Cone’s blog in Greensboro as a subset of a larger national conversation. The post features Cone striving for even-handed punditry with an analysis positing that Reid’s remarks contrast with a gaffe by then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2002 in that Lott “consorted with neo-segregationists before wishing aloud that a paleo-segregationist had been elected to the White House,” but that Reid’s choice of wording was bizarre and offensive.” Predictably, lawyer and conservative warrior Samuel Spagnola was quick to attack: “Lott was humoring an old man on his birthday. Reid was talking entirely about racial characteristics.” As for me, I was stewing about this contretemps before I read Cone’s post, and then I was helpless to restrain myself. I’m not so original as to come up with these notions on my own, but really, who doesn’t recognize that Reid awkwardly stumbled on an essential truth of race and politics in America? Memo to partisan pundits: Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are too “black” to pass muster with the majority-white electorate. Lott’s comment about his wish that Strom Thurmond had won the 1948 presidential election appealed to a sense of white resentment and superiority; Reid, like Branch Rickey, was shrewdly assessing what kind of black person could break down the color barrier. — JG