This is a great op-ed piece in the NYT be Van Jones. What he is saying is what a lot of Washington insiders and business people in the Washington area are saying – that the Obama Administration has allowed itself to be paralyzed by the threat of the right-wing noise machine.
The unwillingness, or inability of the Obama Administration to stand up for their people has impacted everything in every crevice and recess of the Federal Government. Your day to day, Civil Service workers are afraid to do their jobs, because they know they could be the next Van Jones or Shirley Sherrod. They can’t afford to fight back by themselves, and to pay lawyers tens of thousands of dollars to defend them. And the Administration is utterly chickenshit and wiling to throw anyone under the bus at the simple whiff of an accusation from the right…
No matter how specious.
This administration caves to media blackmail, which the right wing knows is effective anytime they add the vector of race.
Some analysts have concluded that the problem is that the Obama White House is too white. Ergo, had this White House had ANYONE at the staff level who was black, and old enough to be familiar with history – they would have known who Shirley Sherrod was. Further, the administration could assemble an effective counter strategy beyond just turning tail and running every time right wing bullies played the race card. My feeling about Obama since the Primaries has been he just doesn’t have that “killer instinct”. As many dollars as CEOs of major corporations spend to convince the outside world that they are “nice guys” – not one of those guys got there without carrying an metaphorical razor in the hip pocket for the throats of the opposition who can’t be “made to see reason” by other means. The only real difference between organized crime and business leadership is business leaders use lawyers and MBA types, instead of big guys with baseball bats and guns to “make you an offer you can’t refuse”.
That is what is missing in this President, that is what is missing in his staff – and that is crippling his Administration’s ability to fulfill their promises.
I UNDERSTAND how Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official who was forced to resign last week, must have felt.
Last year I, too, resigned from an administration job, after I uttered some ill-chosen words about the Republican Party and was accused — falsely — of signing my name to a petition being passed around by 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Partisan Web sites and pundits pounced, and I, too, saw my name go from obscurity to national infamy within hours.
Our situations aren’t exactly the same. Ms. Sherrod’s comments, in which she, a black woman, appeared to admit to racial discrimination against a white couple, were taken far out of context, while I truly did use a vulgarity.
But the way we were treated is strikingly similar, and it reveals a lot about the venal nature of Washington politics in the Internet era. In my case, the media rushed to judgment so quickly that I was never able to make clear that the group put my name on its Web site without my permission. The group finally admitted that it never had my signature, but by then it was too late.
Fortunately, Ms. Sherrod has been offered a new job. But our stories offer cautionary tales to anyone interested in taking a job in national politics. Read the rest of this entry »