CNN's Anderson Cooper and his panel discuss Sen. Harry Reid's push of a gambling bill during this congressional session.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama has to rely on a lot of other folks to put his policies into place. It’s kind of like moving when you’re young and you call some friends to help carry the boxes. But, in lawmaking, like moving, you’ve got to be a little careful whose company you keep. Especially if one of them might start saying things to annoy the neighbors.
Dear Mr. President,
Senate Majority Leader, and your fellow Democrat, Harry Reid said something last week that I think was ill-considered at best, and insulting at worst. I know that Republicans have jumped all over him on this matter, and I’m not taking their side, but I’ve heard this sort of thing before from people in both political parties and it really bugs me. (Not quite like the bed bug infestation they are fighting in New York, but still.)
In case you missed it, Sen. Reid said “I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.”
Really? To me, a cornerstone of respect for the rights and opinions of others is recognizing that their ideas are determined by more than their skin color or heritage. It’s just that simple. Imagine how demeaning it would be to say, “I don’t see how any woman could be against abortion rights.” Or “I don’t see how any gay or lesbian could have supported John McCain.” Or “I don’t see how any African American person could have voted against President Obama.” I can understand that people who have strong beliefs may find it puzzling that others disagree with them. But just looking at someone’s family tree and pronouncing that person all boxed up based on your expectations is unfair.
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Dana Bash | BIO
CNN Political Unit
The Tea Party Express is predicting large crowds for five events Thursday and Friday aimed at unseating U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan.
The events are being held in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which is part of the Democrat's large and rural First Congressional District.
The rallies come as sources said the top two House Democrats called Stupak to urge him to stay in Congress. A Stupak spokeswoman didn't confirm or deny rumors that the lawmaker is considering retiring from Congress.
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Special to CNN
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in hot water for some comments he made to reporters in a new book called "Game Change." In the book, Reid said, Barack Obama had a chance of winning because he was both "light-skinned" and didn't speak with a "Negro dialect."
Some Republicans have called for Reid to step down.
I, for one, think Reid should stay on as leader of the Senate Democrats. He should stick around to face the voters in November.
While I understand why some of my fellow Republicans would want Reid to resign, I think he represents well the current plight of the congressional Democrats.
Reid's comments reflect the views of a man who is stuck in the past. Such language may have been completely acceptable in 1955 but is now completely unacceptable.
Special to CNN
Sen. Harry Reid's comments during the 2008 Democratic primary show that he is socially awkward, but they certainly don't prove he is a secret racist. If anything, these comments show that Reid may know about white voters, but he doesn't understand black voters at all.
Reid's assessment that President Obama's light skin was beneficial to his electability among white voters may be accurate, but it's certainly not decisive. Think of it this way: We can divide white voters into three categories relative to black candidates. One group believes that blacks, as a group, are unqualified to hold public office. They will refuse to vote for a black candidate regardless of his politics or his skin tone. Surveys indicate that this is a dwindling part of the white electorate.
Another group of white voters is deeply committed to interracial political coalitions and are enthusiastic about voting for black candidates when they have the opportunity. This group is also largely unaffected by characteristics like skin color.
Finally, there is a group of white voters who are willing to vote for a black candidate, but who need to feel comfortable that the candidate will represent their interests. These white voters are looking for cues, signals and signs.
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The Senate majority leader has apologized for his remarks about race and color, but he was simply being honest about how voters react to skin color.
CNN is aflutter. Bloggers are calling it a "big-time" mistake. Newspapers describe the "racially tinged" remarks as "sensational." What is this "juicy revelation"? Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid privately told two journalists in 2008 that Obama was more electable because he's "light-skinned" and lacked a "Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
With the publication of Reid's impolitic quote in the new book Game Change, journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have landed a PR coup. By revealing Reid's racial faux pas, they've also set in motion the now tediously familiar process of a media frenzy, an inevitable apology from Reid acknowledging "deep regret," and an equally inevitable gracious acceptance of the said apology from Obama.
Lost in all the handwringing and shock, however, is any clear explanation of what's wrong with Reid's comment. Clearly, using "Negro dialect" is about half-a-century behind the times, but does anyone think Reid meant ill by his anachronism? Moreover, as the recent kerfuffle about the 2010 Census revealed, "Negro" is still used by a non-trivial number of older black folks. In 2000, for example, more than 50,000 people went the extra effort of writing-in that they identified themselves as "Negro" (over-and-above the millions who checked the box for "Black, African-Am., or Negro").
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Special to CNN
Sharks can smell even the smallest drop of blood miles away, so it should come as no surprise that, even in their home districts, Beltway Republicans began circling when news broke of Harry Reid's latest self-inflicted wound.
While the rest of us were watching football or "Avatar" or just trying to keep warm this weekend, Beltway Republicans pounced on an inappropriate comment Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid made in reference to then-Sen. Barack Obama.
In case you missed it, late Friday night, theatlantic.com posted an excerpt from the long-anticipated book "Game Change," an account of the 2008 presidential campaign. It quoted Reid as saying Obama was "light-skinned ... with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
The contextual inference: African-Americans don't speak the King's English, and Obama's lighter skin makes him more appealing to the masses.