From Nevada to Washington, calls were mounting Tuesday for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to apologize for comparing opponents of health care reform to supporters of slavery.
The antagonistic comment, made on the Senate floor Monday, came at a sensitive time for health care reform, with Democratic leaders trying to push a compromise by the holidays, and in the middle of Reid's heated race for re-election in Nevada. The remark did not bode well for either effort.
Senate Republicans blasted Reid for the comparison, calling it "offensive" and "unbelievable" and suggesting he was starting to "crack" under the pressure of the health care reform effort.
In the comment, Reid argued that Republicans are using the same stalling tactics employed in the pre-Civil War era -- and during the women's suffrage and civil rights movements.
No rational, honest person could dispute a word of this.
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Senate Republicans can come up with is: 'Slow down, stop everything and start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right.
"When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, some dug in their heels and said, 'slow down.' When women spoke up for the right to speak up -- when they demanded the vote -- some insisted that they simply stop. When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to all citizens, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.
"And more recently, when Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut - one of the people who will go down in history as a chief champion of the bill before us today - said that Americans should be able to start and take care of their families without fear of losing their jobs, he heard the sane old excuses. Through seven years of fighting and more than one presidential veto, it was: 'Slow down, stop everything and start over.'
"History is repeating itself before our eyes. There are now those who don't think this is the right time to reform health care. But in reality, for many who feel that way, there will never be a good time to reform health care."