I have been critical of Harry Reid in the past. (Here. And here. And then here and here. Wait, here's another. One more. No, two more. Ooh, a stray.) It is with no small amount of confusion and irony I find myself supporting him today.
Harry got himself into a jackpot this week for something he said a couple of years ago, when he mentioned—in what he thought were off-the-record comments—that Barack Obama could win the presidential election because he was "light skinned" and had "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." The controversy is reminiscent of one Obama himself created two years ago, when he referred to some Pennsylvania voters as "bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
I grew up on the cusp of the part of Pennsylvania Obama was talking about, and thought nothing of it; he was right. I know people like those he described. I was around in the 70s when the mills closed, and saw firsthand how the economic changes were received. I can't quibble with his assessment.
The same is true of Reid's comment. He didn't say it as a slur toward Obama; he was talking about a group of people—who could be from anywhere, but Obama's bitter Pennsylvanians certainly qualified—who might be willing to overlook Obama's race because he's not all that black, and he doesn't speak like he's auditioning for The Wire. You know it's true. Maybe it doesn't apply to you personally, but I defy anyone to argue the point with a straight face. There were people out there for whom that mattered, even if they wouldn't admit it in so many words.
Harry Reid has earned every shred of criticism I've given him over the years, but fair's fair. He shouldn't be pilloried for telling the truth.