Obama's idea of uniting the country is staying above the fray, maintaining his image and not fighting back. Well I don't know about him, but no one in history has been able to unite a country without vanquishing the foes of divisiveness. I hope he realizes that, I hope the Shirley Sherrod episode is a lesson. He has more to learn from this woman who fought back rather than roll over passively. The progressive community is willing to fight for someone who fights back, who stands for something. If Fox is Hortonizing Obama, then he, Axelrod, Messina, Jarrett all of them are equally to blame for being passive and docile.
The well know sexual predator and falafel man gave a backhanded apology to Ms. Sherrod and then went on to convict her as a liberal activist, spent time with Dick Morris describing her as a racist, promising to dig up more quote from her past etc etc. And to think the administration cowered to these bastards.
Our press corp are just pathetic. Even today people cannot get the facts straight about Shirley Sherrod. Twenty-four years ago she did not work for the USDA or the State, she worked for an organization that's stated mission was to help blacks, so that she even entertained a white farmer to begin with shows her magnanimity. But moving on beyond the smears and lies and propaganda, what still worries me is the way the administration reacted.
The role of the WH in this fiasco is murky and what sounds amazing is that Jim Messina congratulated the WH communications department for the way they handled the situation once Breitbart released the video, that is get ahead of the message and fire this woman without an investigation. If this is good communication, then the WH communication dept is being run by incompetent twits who make the Keystone cops look like the paradigm of efficiency. Incompetence, cowardice, capitulation, it's frankly appalling.
People should also demand that the White House weigh in publicly on what happened here. The White House has only discussed this via anonymous leaks, and this morning, officials are conveniently leaking word that the White House prodded Vilsack to reconsider Sherrod's firing. That's nice, but was the White House told in advance that the firing was about to happen, and if so, why did it allow the firing to proceed?
This effort to "distance" the White House from this mess is unsightly at best. This was a major, high-profile screw-up by a cabinet secretary, and as Ben Smith notes this morning, it highlights this White House's tendency to sidestep racial controversies and cede turf to the right's efforts to stoke racial resentment.
Today Tom Vilsack rather pompously stated that he is willing to reconsider her firing (reconsider and not unconditionally reinstate). Shirley Sherrod is not much interested:
"I am just not sure how I would be treated there," she said, adding that she couldn't get coworkers to listen to her side of the story about a speech she made in March, edited clips of which were recently shown on a conservative website.
She said Fox showed no professionalism in continuing to bother her for an interview, but failing to correct their coverage.
"I think they should but they won't. They intended exactly what they did. They were looking for the result they got yesterday," she said of Fox. "I am just a pawn. I was just here. They are after a bigger thing, they would love to take us back to where we were many years ago. Back to where black people were looking down, not looking white folks in the face, not being able to compete for a job out there and not be a whole person."
Seemingly the WH now wants USDA to reconsider. There are some things about this entire episode that I find extremely troubling:
1. Why does the government cater to internet smears? Do they realize that if the same standards were applied to them, none of them would have a job.
2. There are some folks who wants to give the President a pass because he wants to stay above race, but in this case, the President is the employer. How can an employer fire someone purely based on speculation and rumors without an investigation? If she was wrongfully fired, then she has the right to sue the employer for wrongful termination, especially on the trumped up charge of racism.
3. Some even said that the USDA was justified because even the NAACP came to similar conclusion. I did not know that the NAACP was her employer, or that the NAACP was part of the government. The adminsitration fired her because they are cowardly and they would rather mollify the right wing smear machine than fight them.
4. Finally, I always hear unnamed WH sources (a perfect example of how craven they are) complaining about how progressives are not fighting for them. Why would any progressive fight for an administration that NEVER fights for progressives, except offer pablums and half-measures, and are willing to throw anyone under the bus to maintain its image?
I did not know that. She definitely seems to have a very interesting life. I found out that her father was killed by a white farmer who was not indicted by a jury then. She basically promised her father that she would never leave the South and do whatever she can to alleviate the lives of Southern blacks.
Now having lived in the South for many years and having married into a very Southern family, let me assure you that there was nothing unusual in the initial encounter she had with farmer Spooner. There is a deep distrust and racial animus in people from that generation. The learning point was that both of them were able to overcome that distrust and work together and become friends. Her speech is the kind of speech about race that we should listen to, the kind of dialogue that we should have. To say that we are in a post-racial world, or that we have moved beyond race is ludicrous. But to cower to people who want to open that scab of racial animus for political gains like Breitbart and the Fox network does, is simply cowardice.
A White House official told me just now that the White House backs Vilsack's decision -- but that it was Vilsack's alone. The official said the White House -- contrary to the Sherrod's charge -- did not pressure the Department to fire her.
Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.
"There's enough there that makes you say 'hmm,' but it's the only tape that I have seen on her. The only one." He added that the NAACP made a statement saying that they plan to talk to Sherrod and and watch the video before making a further statement. "When was the last time the NAACP didn't give someone the benefit of the doubt right away who was African-American?"
"Now if she is relating a story from1986 to make a point about how her racial perceptions have changed, this woman deserves her job back. Again, me at AA. Something is definitely wrong here," Beck said.
Breitbart is a race-baiter. He will always publish heavily edited videos to push his agenda. In this internet age, any idiot with a computer can do that. What baffles me is that the administration fired her based on these baseless smears without any investigation!! It is as if they learned nothing from the ACORN saga and somehow are under the illusion that if they pander to these racist nutjobs the problem will go away and they can maintain their post-racial, post-partisan blah blah blah image.