White House's reaction to Sherrod a shock? No, it was predictable 

When it’s all said and done with l’affair Shirley Sherrod, people screwed up.

Many observers are blaming conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart, suggesting that he intentionally released an edited version of Shirley Sherrod’s NAACP speech to make her comments appear racist. The video eventually lead to Sherrod’s ousting from the USDA. Breitbart has denied the allegations, claiming he received the tape as-is. He has also hastened to point out that it wasn’t his decision to fire Sherrod.

The NAACP, whom many believe was the real target of Breitbart’s actions, hasn’t escaped bruising either. Initially, NAACP came out in favor of Sherrod’s ousting based on her comments. Said NAACP President Ben Jealous:

“We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet.

Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.”

Jealous and the NAACP later revoked the statement, claiming they had been “snookered” by Breitbart and Fox News. But not before Sherrod herself blamed the NAACP for her ousting.

Many others have Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in their cross hairs. If their is a sword on which falling is required, Vilsack has been doing his best timber impersonation. Less than 48 hours after the video of Sherrod was released, Vilsack has acknowledged the error of the decision, taken full responsibility for his actions, and offered to rehire Sherrod.

But for much of the liberal media, the buck stops with the White House. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has formally apologized to Sherrod on behalf of the administration, while efforts have been underway to cast the President and the White House as, “above the racial frey”.

Liberal bloggers have not been willing to bite so far. Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates described the administration as, “lacking all conviction.” Nate Silver of 538 accused the administration of, “bunker mentality,” for failing to admit it had screwed up. And at Salon’s War Room, Alex Pareene said that the White House had acted, “stupidly”. Pareene went on to say, “This whole incident revealed something upsetting about their spine and their character.

I respect each of the bloggers I’ve quoted and think that their criticism of the administration’s actions is something to which Team Obama should pay attention. But in all honesty, if there is one word I would use to describe the actions of Vilsack and the White House in canning Shirley Sherrod, it is: predictable.

The list of people that the Obama administration has thrown under the bus at various points is not small. With every passing day, it gets longer and the reasons for its growth less distinguished.

I mean, look at how candidate Obama chose to react to video surfacing that cast light on the scurrilous invective of his former preacher Jeremiah Wright. It was the same move: disown and deride.

What about former senator Tom Daschle when tax issues surfaced along side Daschle’s nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services? Cut and run. And when Van Jones was accused of being and outted as a likely 9-11 truther via an eyebrow raising signature? Off he went without much more than a peep from the President.

I mean, has Obama gone to bat for anyone involved in his administration when opponents have launched a negative campaign against them? No one jumps to mind.

If this administration has demonstrated one thing consistently, it is that they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the reputation of individual players for the good of its much larger agenda. In some cases, like Wright’s, the disownment was invariably the correct course of action. In others, like Daschle and now Sherrod, there is a good deal more skepticism and political calculus at play.

But think what you will about how events have unfolded around Andrew Breitbart, the NAACP, and Shirley Sherrod, one thing is perfectly clear. The Obama White House has, above all, operated according to the same principle it always has and will likely continue: self-preservation.

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Scott Payne

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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018

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