Reid’s Slavery, Suffrage Comparison Draws A Sharp Retort From GOP
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., compared the Republicans' efforts to thwart the Democrats' health overhaul to past campaigns to obstruct progress on slavery, women's suffrage and civil rights, triggering a sharp reaction from the GOP, McClatchy reports. "While congressional analysts thought that comparing GOP strategists to the senators who tried to thwart historic civil rights movements was misplaced, they agreed with Reid that the Republican effort to slow the health care bill is well-rooted in U.S. Senate history," according to McClatchy.
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this: 'Slow down, stop everything. Let's start over,'" Reid said Monday, McClatchy continues. He said politicians had dug their heels in with similar rhetoric throughout history: "Things aren't bad enough about slavery;" "When women wanted to vote, slow down, there will be a better day to do that." Opponents of abolitionism an suffrage "resorted to the same filibuster we hear today," he concluded (Lightman and Douglas, 12/7).
"Harry Reid wandered far out of bounds with his absurd and offensive comments... This is inexcusable, deeply insulting and an arrogant abuse of the Democrat Party's unchecked power in Congress," said Michael Steele, the Republican National Chairman, in a statement, Politico reports. Calling for an apology, Steele added, "If he is going to stand by these statements, the Democrats must immediately reconsider his fitness to lead them" (Barr, 12/8).
Other Republicans also chimed in, The Hill reports. "If he is going to stand by these statements, the Democrats must immediately reconsider his fitness to lead them," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. "It is an indication of desperation," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Sen. John McCain called for Reid to come "to the floor and if not apologize, certainly clarify his remarks, that he was not referring to those of us who we believe are ... carrying out and performing our constitutional duties" (Zimmermann and Fabian, 12/7).