Letter writer Roger Adamiak ("What's the Difference?" Jan. 20) refers to the "incredibly racist" comments of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Others have equated Mr. Reid's comments about then-candidate Barack Obama with comments that Trent Lott, former Republican Senate majority leader, made a few years ago about the late Sen. Strom Thurmond.
To me the difference between the comments made by these two men is crystal clear: In saying that the country "would have been better off" if an avowed segregationist (Mr. Thurmond) had been elected president in 1948, Mr. Lott appeared to express support for a system that rendered African-Americans permanent second-class citizens.
By contrast, Mr. Reid attempted (clumsily, to be sure) to characterize why Mr. Obama (whose candidacy Mr. Reid had endorsed) might win the support of white voters who historically had been reluctant to vote for an African-American. His choice of words was poor, but they were spoken in support of an African-American candidate for the presidency, not in apparent nostalgia for a time when African-Americans were denied the right to vote. If you ask me, that's a pretty big difference.