What a difference a day makes. In twenty-four hours, we went through the Shirley Sherrod roller-coaster, and got turned inside out. What happened was fairly simple, and highly embarrassing: we got played for suckers. The really embarrassing bit is we have seen this movie before.
The ACORN flap is only six months or so in our rear view mirror, and the usual subjects followed that scam line-by-line with essentially the same result. As much as we would love to pour invective on Mr. Breitbart he , dear reader, is not the issue here. The M.O. of Breitbart, and his enablers at Fox News, is not exactly a thing of deep mystery.
We saw how it worked with ACORN. First was the set up. Some young ‘journalists” produce a video that is flogged on Breitbart’s web sight. That video is then flogged for all its worth(lessness) by Fox twenty-four seven. A brain dead corporate media then swallows the Fox talking points whole. No analysis is done, no research is done, no fact checking is done, no consideration of the source is done. The core job of “mainstream media” is abandoned. True journalism is abandoned on the alter of “balance.”
With the big boys being hijacked by the partisans of Fox, the feckless and cowardly “mainstream” Democrats do what they do best : fold like origami. It has been fifty five years since Ted Sorenson ghost-wrote Profiles In Courage for JFK, and the Democrats have gotten no closer to the examples offered by by Sorenson and JFK. Being brutally honest, JFK fell far short of the mark of his supposed book. His response to the moral challenge of Civil Rights was mostly show. Kennedy showed much more resolve with the Soviets then he ever did with Segregationists. From that admittedly stumbling beginning, Democrats have fled from demonstrating any kind of moral courage at all.
In Keith Olbermann’s scathing Special Comment , the craven cowardice of the Democratic Leadership was brought into harsh relief. Keith rightly pointed out not only the whole scale cowardly abandonment of principle at the White House, but the pride in the speed of that abandonment. No facts please, we got to feed this woman to the wolves of Fox News post haste. It was appalling, this rush to judgement. It was sickening this crass political calculation. Change we can believe in? Not hardly, not by approximately a million miles.
But again, the blame sits squarely on our heads. We bought into the toxic sludge peddled by Mr. Breitbart like some late-stage Alzheimer patient; forgetting the radioactive sluge he sold us about ACORN. We took the hyper-edited video he produced at face value. God, that was one toxic video was’t it? We saw this character of a black woman; a wondrous racist, misogynist construct that was designed to directly appeal to our reptile brains. That stuff totally bypassed our logic board, ignored the blood-brain barrier, and fed itself, via the usual hard-wired paths, right into the dark, troglodyte recesses of our lower brain stem. We mainline that toxic sludge right into our carotid artery without even bothering to look at the label of the rat-poison we dumped into our blood stream. We forgot the first rule of media consumption; if it comes from Fox, its absolutely toxic to rational discussion.
We shot first and asked questions later. We allowed despicable people play to our racial fears once again. And by we, I do mean depigmented Americans, Caucasians, Whites. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, this is a very old tactic of reactionaries and Republicans. It is playing to the idea that politics, especially racial politics is a zero-sum game. It is the bogus talking point that gains by minorities, specifically blacks, means losses by white people. We got played but the oldest bait-and-switch in the book : racial politics.
Racial Politics is an old and deep well. It goes way back, at least to the time of Reconstruction, if not before. Bourbon Democrats were experts in playing this game to divide and conquer the working class in the South. They set poor blacks and poor whites against each other and then reaped the economic rewards. The only thing that has changed is the Party affiliation of these race-baiters : they now sport the Republican brand. The actual strategy and tactic, as pointed out by Maddow, is evergreen. Did you think that the choice of Mr. Breitbart in swift-boating this particular woman was an accident? Not a chance gentle reader; Mr. Breitbart knows exactly which dog-whistles will give him the results he wanted.
And how we all howled, how we yammered, how we bellowed; the noise was deafening. The White House had to hear the chorus as if the very hounds of hell were at their door. They reacted true to form; they ran for the nearest hills. Only later did Obama and company find out what they thought was a lupine hoard, out for blood, turn out to be nothing more than the yipping of a mangey chihuahua, pumped though the amplifier of the Right-Wing noise machine.
There are several lesson that need learning; none of them very pleasant. First and foremost, the election of the first mix-race president is not the end of racism in the USA. We are not, in any way, shape, or form, a post-racial society. Race-baiting, racial politics and flat-out racism is not only alive and well, it is still thriving in many areas of our nation.
The second lesson is even harsher for the progressives who supported Barack Obama. Forget this president, forget this man, he is not, nor will he ever be, a fighter for anything; period. The man does not do conflict. In this regard Keith Olbermann was incorrect; in the Sherrod incident, Obama was very much being Obama. He needed little, to no, prompting from his political team to deliver the stiletto to Ms. Sherrod’s back-side. There is no evil Rham, there is no clueless political operators misleading Barrack Hussain Obama. What you see is what you got: a crass political operator with no political, nor moral center whatsoever. Obama sin may have been of commission or omission, but the sin was there, and it was a Mortal Sin.
If you are a Progressive, stop supporting this man, Barack Hussain Obama. He is not worth the time, he is not worth the effort. He not one of us, never has been, never will be. He is a dyed-in-the-wool corporatist. He is the bluest of Blue Dog Democrats. He is an amoral political compromiser who only cares for the “win;” principles be damned. Note to Obamaphiles; the man chose this insider staff for a reason. He went with every stinking D.C. insider for a reason. He is at best a NeoLiberal, a tinkerer at the edges. He is not an agent of real change. If he were, the oligarchy that actually controls the government, the establishment of D.C., would have never let him put a toe in the door. You got sold a bill of goods people: deal with it.
The final lesson we need to learn is to stop being consumers of news and information. We need, and this includes your faithful correspondent, to be much more skeptical of what the media funnels into our grey matter. The woman on the Breitbart video was an idiot, she was mouthy black woman who wore her ignorance on her sleeve. She was too good ( or too evil ) to be true. The real woman was a person who confronted her own bigotry, and found a way to overcome it. The real woman was the exact opposite of the mangled, bogus image presented by Breitbart. But we, and by this I mean yours truly, bought into the lie: hook, line and sinker.
As a recovering Edwards supporter, ( we have our own special twelve step program) you would think your faithful correspondent might of learned something about the distance between appearance and reality. Guess again. So, yes; mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. The only small consolation is that I have a lot of company in my misery.