Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama accepts Reid apology for racial remark


WASHINGTON--President Obama on Saturday accepted an apology from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) who is quoted in a new book about the 2008 presidential campaign calling Obama in private a "light-skinned" black with no "Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Reid's quote is in a new book "Game Change" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, released on Monday.

Here's the passage that got Reid--already facing a tough November re-election fight--in trouble:

"He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he said privately.

Reid's apology, released on Saturday:

"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments. I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama's legislative agenda. Moreover, throughout my career, from efforts to integrate the Las Vegas strip and the gaming industry to opposing radical judges and promoting diversity in the Senate, I have worked hard to advance issues important to the African American community."

Obama's statement, released Saturday afternoon:

"Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."


when will america, we the people, just grow up and learn to live together as a nation.

I guess all it takes is an I'M SORRY. I don't get it. REID said what he said cause he was thinking JUST THAT. Now all of a sudden he better apologize or else. I guess if I was to go punch someones teeth down their throat, just say IM SORRY. Call a black the N word and say IM SORRY.
It seems like now a days you can do or say whatever you want as long as it's followed by an IM SORRY.

Poor Harry! He has proven again that he's most definitely not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Whaaaaat?!? Somebody please tell me what is so offensive..... All true, a light skinned African American...CHECK,no negro dialect..CHECK unless he wanted to have one...CHECK.
I've heard and read where some well educated African Americans are happy to be able to go home again and speak the way they grew up speaking at home and with friends!
Enough of this politically correct CRAP!

This once again reflects how sensitive we are to appearances; to form over substance. Mostly what Mr. Reid's comments reflect is his age. When I was a child, the term "negro" was simply the standard, polite term of reference when speaking of people whose genetic heritage was negroid (of African, highly melanotic skinned, ancestry). It remains the scientific term describing this major racial segment of the world's human population.

Unfortunately, after Mr. Reid's early childhood conditioning, the term came to be seen as derogatory. Purely a social and cultural development.

So, Mr. Reid's speech reflexes slipped back a notch or two. At most and "oops" or "pardon me", not deserving of abject or groveling apology. Mr. Obama seems to understand that by his response as well.

Now, newshounds, keep us informed on the real corruption and perversion of the instruments of government by the Power Elite. These cut across all race issues.

The book should never have been opened. It's nice for guys like Mark Halperin to make money writing books, but it's even nicer for our political leaders to be free to speak in private with good intentions about the reality they face in moving our nation forward. Harry Reid has never in the slightest way shown any prejudice in his actions or his words. That includes in this 'quote'. He was simply stating the truth and addressing another step in the expansion of true democracy in our country. Reid is a realist, and his job as a party leader calls for promoting progress that works. He gets blamed by those in the Democratic party who want to go farther than is politically possible and gets ambushed by selfish opportunists like Mark Halperin. I know we have freedom of speech, but I rank Halperin with the gossip columnists.

Yep, he's an out of touch old white man.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 9, 2010 4:12 PM.

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