Craven and Contemptible

So, after Andrew Breitbart doctored a video to make her look as though she were biased against white people, Shirley Sherrod was pushed out of her job at the USDA, because, according to Sherrod, "you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight." And how did that knee-jerk reactionism to avoid bad press (as if there's ever going to be any good press for the administration on the fucking Glenn Beck show, christ) work out for Obama & Co.?

Shirley Sherrod, ex-USDA worker: White House forced me to resign over fabricated racial controversy:
A black employee who resigned from the Agriculture Department on Monday said the White House forced her out after remarks that she says have sparked a fabricated racial controversy.

Shirley Sherrod, the former Georgia director of Rural Development, said she received a phone call from the USDA's deputy undersecretary Cheryl Cook on Monday while she was in a car. Cook told her that the White House wanted her to call it quits.

"They called me twice," Sherrod told the Associated Press. "The last time they asked me to pull over the side of the road and submit my resignation on my Blackberry, and that's what I did."
Firing of USDA official highlights larger political problems involving race: "The sensitivity to Sherrod's comments—particularly in an agency that has a history of discrimination against minority farmers—was evidenced by the dispatch with which Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ordered her to resign. Both Vilsack and an official at the White House denied Sherrod's assertion, in an interview on CNN, that her firing had come at the instigation of the White House. The decision, they insisted, was Vilsack's alone."

The firing of Shirley Sherrod—and the cowardice of Tom Vilsack: "[The firing of Sherrod] is mostly about cowardice. The coward in question is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who, even though from Iowa, fired Sherrod in a New York minute, and by extension and tradition—"The buck stops here," remember?—Barack Obama himself. Where do they get off treating anyone so shabbily?"

Ousted USDA official: I'm not sure I'd take job back: "The woman ousted from the Agriculture Department over racially tinged remarks that sparked a firestorm in the media said she was uncertain if she would return to her job if invited back. … '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." Who could blame her?

Yeah, this is much better than having Glenn Beck—whom no one expects to ever say anything favorable, nor even truthful, about the Obama administration anyway—babbling stupidly about the story for a night or two. It's always preferable to take the bait in the most reactionary and panicky way possible and then be (quite rightly) regarded as craven amateurs who can be bullied into behaving in the most ghastly, contemptible way toward decent people just because some mendacious hack says so.

Digby wonders:
I also have to wonder if they know what the optics of this are. If [Breitbart et. al.] can scare them to this extent with obviously doctored videos, what happens when they see a real threat? Are they going to flap their arms like penguins and run around in circles screaming "they're coming to get us, run for your lives!!?" At this point, that doesn't seem entirely ridiculous.

Seriously, this shows tremendous weakness. Andrew Brietbart is a con artist and right wing entertainer whose antics should always be met with a cynical laugh and a shake of the head. To fall for his schtick more than once is political malpractice.

…They are telling [right wingers] everywhere that all they have to do is gin up a phony controversy (especially about a black person, apparently) and the administration will fire them so as not to shake confidence that they are "fair service providers."

This is sheer cowardice.
This entire situation is emblematic of the biggest problem with the Obama administration: Their priority isn't what's right. Their priority is what's politic.

Meanwhile, the NAACP says they were "snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias," but will learn from this "teachable moment." If the NAACP still needed to be taught that Breitbart is a professional liar after the ACORN bullshit, something has gone terribly wrong at the NAACP.

Still. At least they admitted they fucked up. Which is more than anyone can say for the administration.

[Sherrod's full speech can be seen here.]

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