TIM RUSSERT (moderator): Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?
REID: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems -- you've talked about them; every people talk -- every reporter's talked about them in town -- where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So --
RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?
REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't -- I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.
What the wing nuts say:
Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post syndicated columnist and FOX News Channel contributor): "In the end, you've got to ask yourself, why [Justice Antonin] Scalia, good, Thomas, bad in the eyes of a man like Reid. I say it's the liberal plantation mentality, in which if you're a man on the right and white, it's OK. If you are the man on the right and you're African American, it's not." [FOX News, Special Report, 12/6/04].
Clifford May (National Review contributor and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies President): "Look, Justice Thomas is African American and he's conservative. Some people [like Reid] will never forgive that and think that's an open opportunity to insult him." [CNN, American Morning, 12/6/04].
Armstrong Williams (author, syndicated TV and radio host, and syndicated columnist): "Did you hear those racist remarks from Senator Harry Reid about Justice Thomas? ... Harry Reid's the one -- he said Thomas was an embarrassment. He said he cannot write. That is racism. ... That is racism, only because of the hue of his skin. ... Read his [Reid's] words. He was a racist." [FOX News, Hannity & Colmes, 12/7/04].
Sean Hannity (FOX News co-host): "I'm just beginning to see a pattern here. I see a lot of the left attacking Condoleezza Rice. I see when -- when Justice Janice Brown, an African American woman, when the president wants to appoint her, Democrats oppose her. Democrats opposing Miguel Estrada. Democrats attacking Condi Rice, Democrats attacking Clarence Thomas. ... What I see is Democrats oppose African Americans that are conservative, but yet they claim to support minority rights. And what I'm saying here is, why, if you're for the advancement of minorities, why do you oppose every conservative African American or Hispanic American? Why is this pattern emerging?" [FOX News, Hannity & Colmes, 12/6/04]
Rush Limbaugh (syndicated radio host): [I]t's not a new page in the playbook but it's certainly not as old as the playbook itself. But it's been around awhile. That is conservative blacks are inept, à la Clarence Thomas. ... You notice how easy it is for these people to be critical of blacks. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/6/04]
James Taranto (Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor): "It's a shame [Meet the Press moderator Tim] Russert didn't press Reid to name some Thomas opinions he considers to be poorly written. In the absence of such examples, one can't help but suspect that the new Senate Democratic leader is simply stereotyping Thomas as unintelligent because he is black." [OpinionJournal.com "Best of the Web Today" column, 12/6/04; also excerpted in columnist Greg Pierce's "Inside Politics" column for The Washington Times, 12/7/04]
So let me get this straight: they're against affirmative action in any material job-getting, school-enrollment sense, but they rigidly enforce a sort of linguistic affirmative action whereby to criticize a black person is a de facto racist action.
This is another one of those situations where I can't figure out if this is an attempt on the part of these wingers to cleverly manipulate Reid's remarks or whether they really believe their lines because they themselves are so racist that they hear things in a totally f-ed up way.