Reid used the word "Negro." It's out of date, but is it now offensive? Is it the new "N" word? Just a blink of an eye ago, "black" was the preferred locution. Jesse Jackson decided it should be "African-American" and the country went along. But the slower adopters (even your humble columnist, who prefers less orotund expressions) sometimes still say "black." How long until that becomes a sin?
As for Obama being light-skinned, it's certainly possible that his complexion made him more acceptable to some vestigial racists. For Reid to notice that is not to endorse it. And finally, the president's lack of a "Negro dialect, unless he wants one," was clearly an important asset. Most Americans expect their president to speak standard English. Black (there I go again) speech in America ranges from James Earl Jones to gangsta rap, and it was clearly an advantage that Obama was articulate. When he chooses to adopt a black style, he does it a whole lot more authentically than Hillary Clinton managed in her embarrassing South Carolina appearance at a black (did it again) church. Remember "I ain't noways tired"?
Republicans are right, so right, that if Mitch McConnell had said what Reid said, there would be a prolonged scandal. And they are right that political differences should not be turned radioactive by the malicious charge of racism. But it's enough to point this out.
Don't join in.