Mona Charen

Welcome to America's longest running hit show -- the race farce, in which feigned shock and outrage lead to fawning apologies and bumbling explanations to all the wrong people. Taking offense has been reduced to low comedy in America -- as hypocrites play out their assigned parts.

S. Harry Reid was quoted in a new book as enthusing in 2008 about Obama's candidacy because he is "light-skinned" and speaks without a "Negro dialect, unless he wants one." Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post called it "beyond stupid" to use the word Negro in 2008. Liz Cheney labeled Reid's words "fairly racist." And Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele opened up to full throttle, calling on Reid to step down as majority leader.

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Reid understood his part in the drama. He apologized to the president and to "any and all Americans, especially African-Americans, for my improper comments." The majority leader then made personal calls to a number of African-Americans who could, he hoped, offer remission of sins. Among these were reportedly Eleanor Holmes Norton, Donna Brazile, and ... Al Sharpton.

Actually, if you read between the lines, it doesn't look as though Reid phoned Sharpton but the other way around. The figure who became an American celebrity by attempting to frame innocent men for an invented racial attack, Sharpton issued a statement of forgiveness after noting that he and the leader had spoken. No Democrat in Harry Reid's position would dare to refuse a call from Sharpton under these circumstances. Thus does Sharpton burnish his reputation as the "go to" guy for racial absolution. Deft.

Some Reid defenders have been at pains to point out that Reid was supporting Obama's candidacy and that his words should be understood in that context. This is the part in the play when Democrats' sins are washed clean because they favor the minimum wage, health care reform, and card check. As Norton put it, Reid gets a pass because he "has earned it with long support of civil rights and … issues that matter most to African-Americans." President Obama applied the same standard, accepting Reid's apology because he has shown "passionate leadership … on matters of social justice" and because the president "know(s) what's in Harry's heart."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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