- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid marveled at the electability of Barack Obama because, unlike previous black candidates, Mr. Obama was “light-skinned” and lacked a “Negro dialect.” In other words, he wasn’t “too black.” He was more Carlton Banks than Suge Knight.

A few thoughts on the ensuing uproar over this insult to all Americans:

c No more “My bads.” After the Christmas terror attack, Mr. Obama took “responsibility” for the security failures that had led to the near-slaughter of 300 people over Detroit. He was roundly applauded for saying nothing more than “My bad”; he then suffered no punitive consequences. On Monday, Mr. Reid took a page from Mr. Obama’s playbook and “apologized” for a poor “choice of words.” Nothing to see here, folks; move along.

Generally speaking, when Democrats commit whoppers, they get away with it. When Republicans commit whoppers, the “My bad” routine isn’t enough, and they’re expected to step down. For Republicans, accepting responsibility means accepting punishment; for Democrats, it means only an admission of error and a suggestion they’ll do better in the future. This double standard must end.

c It’s the hypocrisy, Stupid. Over the past two years, many Democrats have used race in appalling ways. Several weeks ago, Mr. Reid compared Republican opponents to the Democrats’ health care debacle to those who clung to slavery. Like Mr. Reid, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. gawked at Mr. Obama, calling him “clean” and “articulate” for a black guy: “That’s a storybook, man!” Former President Bill Clinton downplayed the significance of Mr. Obama’s South Carolina primary victory by equating it with Jesse Jackson’s wins there in 1984 and 1988. And according to the new book “Game Change,” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Mr. Clinton dismissed Mr. Obama to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy by saying, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Former President Jimmy Carter suggested that Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, was a racist for blurting out “You lie” during Mr. Obama’s health care address. And more broadly, the left has sought to paint anyone who opposes its radical agenda as racist. Remember “comedian” Janeane Garofalo’s response when asked about the “tea party” movement? “This is racism straight-up. This is about hating a black man in the White House.”

The left can play the race card incessantly without consequence or punishment, but woe to anyone else who even breathes valid opposition to their policies: Thou shall be deemed a racist.

c Rush and Imus. A few years ago, Rush Limbaugh made comments suggesting that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is black, was “overrated” but largely protected from criticism because of a societal desire to see a black quarterback do well. He was roundly attacked for those comments and run out of his gig as an NFL commentator. Likewise, on his national radio show, Don Imus referred to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed ho’s.” That got him wide condemnation and got him fired from his radio and TV gigs. Mr. Reid is still in his Senate leadership position, not only not forced out of his gig, but protected by the very voices that condemned Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Imus.

c Why? Because liberals have set up an assumption that they’ve managed to steep deep into the national psyche: On issues of race (and everything else), they are presumed to be “good.” In his first statement about this mess, Mr. Reid directed his critics to his record on civil rights, as if that absolves him from a comment that would have killed a Republican’s career. The black individuals and groups who have defended Mr. Reid have pointed to the same thing: “See? He can’t possibly be a racist because he’s good on our issues.”

Of course, “good” to them means big-government policies that perpetuate cyclical racial victimization, such as affirmative action, welfare, quotas and poor education policies. Republicans, by contrast, have long espoused policies aimed at creating the greatest opportunity for minorities, including charter schools, “workfare” and merit-based admissions and hiring. Republicans have sought to create an environment for minorities to succeed, not by insulting their abilities but by unleashing and rewarding them. And yet, in this sick, twisted universe liberals have created, the Republicans are smeared as “bad” on civil rights and minority issues.

c The final nail for the Democrats. They’re already sinking under the weight of their own big-government, big-spending overreach, and the hypocrisy of their reaction to Mr. Reid’s comments might be the thing that does them in. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she couldn’t recall a single Democrat who had called for the resignation of Republican Sen. Trent Lott following his birthday toast to elderly former segregationist Democratic Sen. Strom Thurmond. In fact, dozens of Democrats - including Mrs. Feinstein herself - piled on Mr. Lott and called for him to go. They said it wasn’t appropriate for an American leader who said such things to remain in high office. Just so.

Democrats circle the wagons well. But this time, on top of all the other nightmares they are inflicting on the American people, from health care to cap-and-trade, they may have pushed the American people too far.

True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith, ethnicity - or political ideology. It’s time for the Democrats who claim to promote equality to put their money where their big mouths are.

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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