GOP attacks Reid for slavery-healthcare comparison

Republicans attack the majority leader over his comments on healthcare, social progress

By Alex Koppelman
December 8, 2009 6:01AM (UTC)
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The debate over healthcare reform has never been notable for civilized, rational discussion free of overwrought charges coming from both sides. Comments that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made recently, coupled with the Republican response, won't do much to help.

On the Senate floor Monday, Reid said:


Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, "slow down, stop everything, let's start over." If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said "slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough."

When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right.

When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.

That's being portrayed as a direct comparison of people who oppose healthcare reform to those who, for instance, supported slavery. It's not that, not really. But it's pretty close to that line, no doubt deliberately. And Republicans aren't happy about it.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for one, has demanded an apology from Reid. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said he's "personally offended." Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, too, says Reid should apologize -- and that Democrats should strip the majority leader of his post if he doesn't.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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