This Associated Press story is a good example of the mindless way in which Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s stupid remarks about President Obama and race are being compared to those of Trent Lott in 2002. Lott was forced to step down as Senate majority leader after he endorsed Strom Thurmond’s segregationist presidential campaign 54 years after the fact.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, calls it “a clear double standard” if Democrats do not remove Reid. Good grief.

The difference, plain enough to anyone who wants to engage his or her brain: Reid, though his words were awkward and racially insensitive, was expressing his enthusiasm that an African-American might be elected president. Reid said Obama was electable because he was a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Reid’s words were unfortunate, to say the least. But Lott, who had long been active in racist politics back home in Mississippi, was essentially saying it was a damn shame those blacks were ever allowed to drink from the non-colored water fountain. Here’s what Lott said at Thurmond’s 100th-birthday party:

I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.

There’s really no comparison, and sensible people of all ideological stripes know that. Check out how conservative pundit George Will put Lynne Liz Cheney in her place on ABC’s “This Week” after Cheney claimed Reid’s words were “racist”:

WILL: I don’t think there’s a scintilla of racism in what Harry Reid said.  At long last, Harry Reid has said something that no one can disagree with, and he gets in trouble for it.

CHENEY: George, give me a break.  I mean, talking about the color of the president’s skin …

WILL: Did he get it wrong?

CHENEY:  … and the candidate’s …

WILL: Did he say anything false?

CHENEY:  … it’s — these are clearly racist comments, George.

WILL:  Oh, my, no.

Indeed. Oh, my. No. Despite Reid’s idiotic choice of words, this remains a racially charged society, and his analysis — as Will noted — happened to be exactly correct.