Well, we have to add some qualifiers here. Some people are accountable for some things they say, under certain conditions, depending on who they offend.

And then there’s the question of what constitutes accountability. We
recall when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a
threat assessment saying right-wing extremists might recruit returning
military veterans “to boost their violent capabilities”, offending all
sorts of Americans. And when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was on the record
saying that a female Hispanic judge would come to a better decision in
court than a white male judge. And when President Obama said at a White
House press conference, in spontaneous remarks, that the Cambridge,
Mass., police had acted “stupidly” in their response to an incident in
which he knew one of the parties but not many of the details. And so on…

But when those incidents happened, no matter who was offended, the response wasn’t exactly an apology.

Now that it’s come to light that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
made some offensive remarks about Obama during the 2009 campaign, the
major news media are all over the story about Reid’s remorse and
Obama’s forgiveness.

Here’s just one, WaPo’s.

Reid is very, very sorry, they (and all the other media) say.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) apologized Saturday
for referring to President Obama in private conversations during the
2008 presidential campaign as “light-skinned” and as having “no Negro
dialect.”

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” Reid said in a statement.

“I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments.”

Dropping down a bit further in the story, we see this:

“The swiftness of Reid’s apologies underscored the sensitivity surrounding remarks involving the subject of race.”

It would seem that the swiftness of Reid’s apologies underscored the
weight and gravity of party politics. (After all, Obama downplayed
Sotomayor’s comments that had elements of both racism and sexism.)

Now look at how they end the damage-control piece. The very last lines, sort of an afterthought:

“In 2007, while a presidential candidate and senator from Delaware,
the current vice president drew criticism for a similar remark about
Obama.

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is
articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Joe Biden
said.”

How quickly we forget some things. How sorry it is that politics and media determine what level of remorse is in order.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....