Now that we got that out of the way, I can say this: I don't like the Senator from Nevada, but I also don't think he's a racist or what he said is racist.
I don't know if white Americans would have voted for someone with darker skin. Maybe, maybe not. I think that is something best left to white Americans themselves to answer and since I'm not a white American, I won't answer.
But the thing is, what he said wasn't racist.
That said, I am also left wondering what would have happened if a Republican had said the same thing. I tend to think that said Republican would be in the midst of an even greater firestorm than the one surrounding Harry Reid.
E.D. Kain notes that the reaction on the right is indicative of the state of American conservatism these days, but I disagree: I think it is indicative of American politics these days. While Republicans have shamelessly jumped on Reid's comments, Democrats have at times taken any criticism about the President to be a racist assault on Obama. Meagan McArdle sums it up nicely:
I happen to agree that there's no evidence that either Bill Clinton or Harry Reid harbor deep racial animus. Clinton's remarks clearly have an alternative, non-racial interpretation, and while Harry Reid may have been flashing back to his political salad days when Democrats regularly congratulated themselves on their openness to Negros, it's more unfortunate than problematic. I only wish that all the liberals rushing to defend them would apply the same good faith presumption when Republicans are involved. Even if the president is black, there will be many people who disagree with him vigorously and angrily; this is not, per se, evidence of racism.
A good faith presumption: it's seems to be what we are missing these days.
American conservatism is pretty messed up, but so is the entire political culture. Politicos on both the left and the right tend to automatically see the worst in each other rather than the best. We don't give each other the benefit of the doubt.
What if we were willing to act on faith that the other side isn't always a monster, but just someone we disagree with?
What missing these days is faith...in each other.