Who Handled It Better: The 'You Run Congress Like a Plantation' Edition

Rep. Bill Cassidy said Tuesday that Sen. Harry Reid runs the Senate "like a plantation." Unfortunately, that's not the first time an elected official said that.

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In a positive turn of events for the senator, Harry Reid is demanding an apology for something insensitive someone said about him, instead of the other way around. Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican who is running against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, said Tuesday that Reid runs the Senate "like a plantation." In this analogy, apparently the freedom to have a vote on your amendment to a bill is similar to the freedom to not live your entire life in captivity.

But as several people have noted, this isn't the first time an elected official compared congressional leaders to brutal slaveowners. In 2006, Sen. Hillary Clinton was the accuser and the House was the plantation. Below we've compared the two incidents, and responses, to get a sense of which political party handled this brazen attack on their dignity best:

Democrats, 2014

According to Politico, Cassidy argued that Reid "runs the Senate like a plantation," because his legislation plantation won't pass any bills to help oil or coal. “So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,'" Cassidy said. "Senator Landrieu’s first vote for him to be re-elected means that every other wish for a pro-oil and gas jobs bill is dead. Reid will never allow a pro-oil and gas jobs bill.”

Response: Reid thought it was fairly, really, and very "insensitive" and demanded an apology. "With all the things going on in America today, that's fairly insensitive. That's really insensitive. Very insensitive. And if there were any statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time. I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?" Reid huffed during a Tuesday briefing.

Republicans, 2006

In 2006, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton upset House Republicans when she compared the lower body to a large parcel of land worked by black slaves. Clinton made the comment during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech in a Harlem church to a mostly black audience. According to the Associated Press:

Clinton said on Monday had said Bush’s administration was 'one of the worst' in U.S. history and said the House 'has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about.'

She said the House 'has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.'

Response: "I've never run a plantation before. I'm not even sure of what kind of association she's trying to make," said the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, according to CNN. "If she's trying to be racist, I think that's unfortunate, but I'm not going to comment any further on that." A Bush White House spokesman said her comments were out of bounds.


No one wins. This is an inappropriate thing to say and, as far as insults go, doesn't even make sense. You know what was like a plantation? A plantation.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.