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Harry Reid Doesn’t Care About Black People

This week’s award for bad faith spin goes to an anonymous (of course) “GOP Senate aide” to complain to Jake Tapper that the media is not angry enough at Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for suggesting that three possible Senate nominees in Illinois—Danny K. Davis, Emil Jones, and Jesse Jackson, Jr, all African-American—were not electable.

What would the reaction be if a Republican had been pressuring a Governor not to pick one of the black candidates? You and I both remember the outrage over Trent Lott’s comments at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party.

Good question. The problem is that this hypothetical Republican would not be a member of the party that commands 90 to 95 percent of the black vote and just elected the first black president. He would, however, belong to a party whose candidates for chairman include a guy who belonged to a whites-only country club until 2008 and a guy who sent national committeemen a hilarious parody song called “Barack the Magic Negro.” For a number of reasons too thorny to get into here (some of them involving Democrat-turned-Republican Strom Thurmond), in presidential elections and most other elections the GOP gets a majority of white votes and the Democrats get a majority of non-white votes. This isn’t usually a bad deal for the GOP. They’ve won seven of the last 10 presidential races, after all. But they don’t get as much leeway on “issues” like this. Life’s not fair.

Of course, even if hypothetical Republican governor had said what Reid allegedly said, in an identical situation, he’d have a point—at least two of these candidates are not very electable. Danny K. Davis once handed cult leader Sun Myung Moon a “crown of peace” in a Washington ceremony, then professed ignorance as to why this was controversial. Jones, who would be 73 years old in 2010, is retiring from the Illinois State Senate and was expected to be a placeholder if appointed. Jesse Jackson, Jr has a stronger case for either of them for his own electability, as Nate Silver explains, but Reid wouldn’t be the only Democrat who thought him less certain to win than, say, two-term state Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

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