Lee accepts Reid’s apology over racial comments

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, today said Republicans’ calls for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to step down due to offensive comments he made about then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama are a distraction from real issues facing the nation.

Game Change,” a new book about the 2008 campaign by Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin and New York magazine writer John Heileman, said Reid in private conservations said the country was ready for a black president — particularly one who’s “light-skinned” with no “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Obama has accepted Reid’s apology.

Lee today said she also has spoken with Reid about it “and he apologized for his unfortunate remarks concerning the President and he understands the gravity of such remarks. There are too many issues like the economy, job creation and energy for these regrettable comments to distract us from the work that must be done on behalf of the American people.

“Over the years, I have had an opportunity to work with Majority Leader Reid. Senator Reid’s record provides a stark contrast to actions of Republicans to block legislation that would benefit poor and minority communities – most recently reflected in Republican opposition to the Health Bill now under consideration. I look forward to Senator Reid continuing to serve as Majority Leader to guide this important agenda through the Senate,” Lee continued.

“The Congressional Black Caucus believes that thoughtful engagement and civil discourse on race is needed, as our first ‘Dialogue on Race’ in November 2009 demonstrated. There is a deep unease about race which cannot be swept under the rug. I appreciate Senator Reid’s apology and look forward to our continuing work.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    It’s very touching to see Ms Lee do the right and Christian thing by forgiving Senator Reid. I wonder if she can find it in her heart to forgive Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh, ex-Pres. Bush and other offenders. She doesn’t have to forgive Don Imus or Strom Thurmond.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Harry Reid should have used the phrase African-American, instead of Negro. Negro in Spanish means Black, and of course Christian Conservatives don’t like the use of Spanish in the USA. It implies that Democrats approve of illegal immigration.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    O.K., I admit to taking steroids. Several years ago my Doctor prescribed 1% testosterone, which can be applied topically in a gel or patch. Testosterone is the natural male hormone, made in gonads, but is also a steroid. I hope Harry Reid won’t investigate me for this. It’s probably because of this supplement to my gonad production, that I reply to items on the Political Blotter!

  • Common Tater

    Why on earth should Reid apologize to Lee? And why on earth should she feel that she’s in the position to accept such an apology?

  • John W.

    Right on, Common Tater.

    Which was offensive? Trent Lott saying (even if he didn’t really mean it) at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday that the country would be better off today if it had elected Thurmond president in 1948, when he was the nation’s leading segregationist, spewing forth all kinds of hatred (and doing so while he was fathering a child with a Negro household servant)? Or Harry Reid’s comments, which were about Obama’s electability and made in the context of Reid actively encouraging and supporting Obama’s candidacy? Some of those now acting so outraged at Reid’s reference to “light-skinned Negro” are some of the same folks who repeatedly called Obama a “Halfrican” during the campaign. When Trent Lott messed up, Dems took advantage, to be sure. But they aren’t the ones who forced him to resign as Majority Leader. Credit the Bushies for that. They wanted their man, Bill Frist, in that job and used the controversy as an excuse to make it happen.

  • TheVoice

    Lets say “Hypersensitive politically tainted”.
    Reid was stating what he saw among the electability among the masses of America. Black people come from all backgrounds and ethnicities, there was nothing deragatory mentioned or stated.

    I strongly agree that America needs to bring about talks and discussions about race, especially the hypocrisy of some words used by a certain sector but is off limits to another. We as Americans need to talk about this to bring this topic out and have educated discussion and emotions understood.