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Reid backlash may be double standard

January 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Racial comments made by Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., during the presidential campaign and revealed in a new book are sparking more conversations about race and politics.

Some political experts think this fallout may actually strengthen the bond between Reid and President Barack Obama.

"For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that, makes absolutely no sense," says Obama.

Reid said Obama could win the presidential election because he is a light-skinned African American with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." The president accepted Reid's apology, but now Republicans are calling this a Democratic double standard.

"Anytime a Republican even steps out of line, he or she gets hammered in the media and hammered by all the activist groups. There's a conga line telling him to step down," says GOP strategist Sean Walsh.

"I think there's certainly a double standard," says professor James Taylor from the University of San Francisco.

However, Taylor, who teaches race and politics, says Reid was merely pointing out an unexplainable worldwide phenomena that he calls the politics of complexion.

"In India for example, in Cuba, all over the world, there's this tendency for people to prefer lighter skinned individuals in terms of political preferences," says Taylor.

But even if Reid's comments are insulting, Taylor says it will not drive a wedge between the two.

"As a consequence Harry Reid needs Barack Obama and Barack Obama needs Harry Reid," says Taylor.

Reid needs Obama because he is trailing three Republicans in a recent Nevada-U.S. Senate poll, and Obama who foresees a tough healthcare debate, needs the Senate majority leader to keep it together.

"You're going to go through a really, really significant conference fight. So Pelosi is going to be pushing for some pretty liberal stuff. He's going to want Harry Reid to step up to the plate and knock some of her stuff down," says Walsh.

Walsh says Republicans have a weapon in the Democratic double standard they are seeing, but he says this could actually strengthen the bond between Obama and Reid.


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