That a double standard exists for Republicans, for religion, for even whites and blacks and what they say on race and other subjects is a given. The media treat such comments differently depending on the policies of those who utter them. In fact, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia can utter the phrase "white nigger" and it barely raises an eyebrow in liberal circles. Rarely is Byrd's background as a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan mentioned in polite liberal company. As long as the speech offender is a liberal who favors the social and political policies of the liberal media elite, he (or she) gets a pass.

And so then-Senator and future vice president Joe Biden can describe then-senator Barack Obama as "clean and articulate" and it's not a problem. That's because Byrd and Biden "vote right." Jesse Jackson can refer to New York City as "Hymietown" and he keeps a TV show he had on CNN at the time and his newspaper column. Al Sharpton signs on to defend a young African-American girl who claims she was raped by a gang of white men, including a police officer and prosecutor, and when a grand jury determines that she had created an elaborate hoax, that does not diminish Sharpton in the eyes of his fellow liberals because he pushes for policies with which they agree.

Now it's Harry Reid's turn to be washed in the absolution of his fellow liberals. In their new book, "Game Change," Mark Halperin and John Heilemann quote Reid as referring to Obama as a "light-skinned black man with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

Reid belongs to the Mormon church, which waited until 1978 to announce a "revelation" that black people were welcome in that denomination. That is mostly ignored by the media, though reporters kept bringing up Mitt Romney's Mormon beliefs -- even questioning what undergarments he wore -- during the last presidential campaign.

On Sunday, "60 Minutes"ignored all of this in its interview with the authors of "Game Change." If a Republican had said what Reid said it would have been the first question.

Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell's faith was a big deal to The Washington Post which kept mentioning that he attended and wrote a thesis for Pat Robertson's Regent University.
More importantly, Reid's remark again shows what African-Americans are worth to the Democratic Party. They are votes, not individuals with value. White liberals have built a political culture that is little different from the plantations of another generation. African-Americans are given just enough to help them survive, but not opportunity which will allow them to escape and become independent of government programs.

More than words, this is the greater offense. When will African-Americans realize they have been used and begin to pry themselves loose from the paternalistic grip of white liberal -- and some fellow African-American Democrats?

Senator Trent Lott was forced out as GOP Majority Leader when he joked that the country might have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected president. Don't look for Harry Reid to resign his post for saying worse.

Double standard.

But that aside, what ought to disgust most of us is that these people who are supposed to serve us are playing a game of verbal volleyball that serves only themselves. When will they get serious and behave like adults and real public servants?

Cal Thomas is America's most widely-syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor. His commentary appears frequently in the Fox Forum.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.