If there's one thing the tortuous Senate health-care debate probably didn't need, it was an argument over race, and a mudslinging fight over which party was worse on slavery and civil rights. But that's what the Senate got yesterday, when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) compared Republican opposition to health care reform with the conservative blocking of abolition and civil rights legislation. The Politico's Glenn Thrush reports:

Reid started by mimicking Republicans whom he claims have said: "'Slow down, stop everything, let's start over."

"You think you've heard these same excuses before? You're right," he continued. "In this country...there were those who dug in their heels and said, 'Slow down, it's too early. Let's wait. Things aren't bad enough' " - about slavery.

When women wanted to vote, he went on, opponents said, " 'Slow down, there will be a better day to do that -- the day isn't quite right.'"

Accurate or not, Senator Reid's rhetoric elicited outrage from Republicans. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said the comparison was an "outlandish claim" and said he was personally insulted. Pundits on the right were in a fury as well, noting that it was Republicans, not Democrats, who ended slavery. The right gives Harry Reid a history lesson.
  • The GOP Fought Slavery  Michelle Malkin says Reid has his facts wrong. "It was the GOP that fought slavery and the Democrat Party that battled to preserve it. It’s the Democrat Party, not the GOP, that boasts an ex-Klansman among its senior leaders."
  • 'Why Should the GOP Own Acts It Didn't Commit?'  The National Review's Jonah Goldberg defends the GOP on race. "Whatever evils the GOP committed after the civil rights acts on race — thank you Mr. Nixon (one of the most liberal presidents, of either party) — it is irrefutable that they are lesser evils than the ones committed by the Democrats. Yes, some racists joined the GOP but with a few exceptions, they had to jettison their support for Jim Crow."
  • ObamaCare Would Enslave Americans  The Scared Monkeys blog turns the tables around. "Harry Reid calls Republicans pro-slavery for not backing his terrible nationalized health care bill that would in fact enslave individuals to a government option that would become a single payer healthcare system."
  • No, You Liked Slavery!  At Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft says "Democrats were pro-slavery not Republicans but since when did facts matter to democrats."
  • Faux Outrage  "Was talking about the historic significance of the health care debate, and placing it in the larger context," writes The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen. "Republicans may not like being on the wrong side of history -- though, at this point, you'd think they'd be used to it -- but that doesn't make the historical context 'inflammatory and irresponsible.'"