"He (Reid) 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 was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination," they write.
So is he a racist? He may have been insensitive and inappropriate, but I doubt Reid is some secret KKK wizard.
However, I do think this gets us to a larger point on racism in America.
Think about it. How was Barack Obama elected President despite other African-Americans, like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley-Braun, losing and not even making it through the Democratic Primary? Obama's campaign had to carefully maneuver around the institutionalized racism of American politics.
Supposedly, we're now supposed to be this "post-racial society" where racism and racial tension are things of the past. However, the reality of today's America doesn't show this. Instead, it seems like we still play this "race charade" where we act like there's no problem and we're all "post-racial", but in reality so much of the straight white Christianist male "ruling class" has this "heart of darkness" that still holds these nasty prejudices about people who don't look like them (racial minorities, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people of different faiths/no faith, etc.).
If anything, it seems to me like Harry Reid was just crudely, but correctly, blurting out this horridly brutal reality of the institutional racism still corrupting American politics. After all, remember what the Republicans tried to throw at Obama in 2008?
So did Harry Reid commit another stupid gaffe? Yes. Will it cost him the election? I'm not sure yet, but I'm doubting it? Will the Republicans use it to death? Of course.
But more importantly, this just shows that racism is still alive and kicking in America... But will anyone actually address the real issue at hand?