Dingy Harry’s Blunder & the Left’s Weaponization of Race


The upcoming political tell-all Game Change has set the political landscape ablaze with all sorts of juicy revelations, from the “first black president’s” true feelings towards President Barack Obama to an inside look at the marriage of John & Elizabeth Edwards, but the one that’s garnered the most attention has been Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s observation that Obama had a shot at the presidency because he was “light-skinned” and has “no Negro dialect—unless he wanted to have one.”

Much has been made of Dingy Harry’s racial condescension, Democrat double-standards, and the general sleaziness of political correctness, but when Game Change’s authors, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, sat down with Sean Hannity to discuss their book this week, they offered the context of Reid’s observations, which happens to reveal what might be the scandal’s most important lesson.

HALPERIN: Well, Harry Reid was part of what we call in the book a conspiracy of whisperers in the Senate. And people think of Hillary Clinton as — thought of her as the establishment candidate, the one who was going to be very difficult to beat because the whole Democratic Party would be backing her.

In fact, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer of New York, other Democratic senators said themselves, “Hillary Clinton is a problem for us. She’s polarizing and her husband’s personal life could explode in the general elections.”

They wanted a different candidate in the race. They looked at people like Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, John Edwards and said those people can’t beat Hillary. They looked at Obama and said he probably can’t beat her but at least he’s got a chance.

Harry Reid called Obama to his office and said you should run in this race.

So Reid liked the idea of a black candidate that was also politically presentable.  But why?  Speculation about the Left’s obsession with race often explores an insatiable sense of collective guilt over America’s past failings.  Liberals themselves will often say that putting minorities in power will help us move beyond racial division.  But for many Democrats, the true appeal of Obama’s skin color is more sinister: they see it as a weapon.

With a John Kerry or a Bill Clinton as the liberal standard-bearer, Democrats have little choice but to argue based on the merits of any given policy (albeit in the most weaselly possible manner).  But when left-wing ideas are proposed by a black liberal, a brand-new option presents itself: the race card, ready to be deployed at the slightest provocation.

One need look no further than the current healthcare debate for abundant examples of liberals, from Democrat congressional leadership to the American media, slandering any hint of opposition to ObamaCare as motivated by secret bigotry.  Indeed, on the campaign trail Obama himself routinely predicted that Republicans would try to scare voters with reminders that he “doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency.”

Yes, we conservatives are quite the white supremacists, whipped up into frenzies by the likes of Michelle Malkin, Herman Cain, and Thomas Sowell.  Why, we practically worship the judicial writings of Clarence Thomas and Miguel Estrada!

Flowery rhetoric aside, the Left has no intention of moving beyond race.  A truly color-blind society would be one in which liberals would be deprived of one of their most cherished rhetorical weapons, in which there would be less resentment and division to exploit in the pursuit of power.  If you want a world where we really do treat everyone based “not on the color of their skin but the content of their character,” conservatism is the only way to go.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.





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