Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chuck Todd, Obama and how not to talk about race

Recently, in bringing up the race issue, supposedly stirred by the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, Chuck Todd, who as has been pointed out before,has shown a willingness to discard journalistic integrity in return for "access" to the White House and being in their good graces, recently spoke about the tempest caused by the Sherrod firing, and in bringing up the issue of race, called Obama "the country's most eloquent spokesman on race".

Referring to Obama as the country's most eloquent spokesman on race is like calling Sarah Palin the country's most eloquent spokesman on American foreign policy and shows that Todd as well as others in the mainstream media are really unwilling to discuss race in any kind of serious and honest way, instead resorting to what they think is "brand name" recognition on race as a way of actually avoiding talking about the issue. Because to deal with it honestly means that Todd and most in the media would have to face things about themselves that they dont really want to face.

When it has come to race, Obama has been as much of an empty vessel as he has been on every other issue from healthcare reform in which he botched and sold out the public option, to financial reform which isnt what Obama pretends it is and doesnt reform what needed to be reformed, the economy and Afghanistan. If you don't believe Obama has been a no show on race, just ask the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, Professor Cornell West or Al Sharpton.

Chuck Todd calling Obama the country's most eloquent spokesman on race turns a serious subject into a fun house mirror of honest objective journalism.

Obama has put his foot in his mouth a number of times on race. There was the incident involving Professor Gates and a disorderly conduct arrest where without knowing the facts Obama jumped to conclusions and unfairly made accusations and assumptions about Sgt. Crowley, the white cop who arrested Gates. He did the same thing most recently with Shirley Sherrod, where without knowing the facts he gave the thumbs up to firing her because of what proved to be a dishonestly edited video involving race. Obama tried to call each a "teachable moment" but the only person involved in both incidents that needed to be taught a lesson was Obama.

Because of his own politically motivated knee jerk reactions to race, both black and white, Obama managed to insult and do injustice to a white Massachusetts cop just doing his job and female black staff member at the USDA not only doing her job but trying to teach people something important about race from her own experience.

But being straight about race is not how Obama operates. During the 2008 primaries, Obama was trying to deal with problems he faced about race with the release of the Jeremiah Wright YouTubes after saying that his church and pastor "are not controversial". After the videos were released, he had to try and explain why he sat in a church listening to Wright for 17 years while he preached racism, damned the US government, said the country got what it deserved on 911 and accused the US government of creating AIDS to commit genocide against black people in Africa.

Most people black or white in a similar situation would have walked out and never gone back, but not Obama. Not because he embraced Wright's views but for the reasons Obama does most things --pure politics. Trinity Church was a black church in the district Obama represented when he was a state senator and it was just more politic for him ( or so he thought) to stay there, rather than to walk out in protest.

But that explanation wasn't going to sit well with the people he was trying to bamboozle. He needed something that would be a pill for Keith Olbermann, the Huffington Post, the Nation, and the New York Times and the rest of the media to swallow. And they did.

So with his back to the wall, he decided to give a disengenuous speech on race designed to do one thing -- get him off the hook. It was a speech the Obama campaign billed as " a major speech on race". It was in fact, one of the emptiest, shallowest "I hope this gets me out of hot water" type speeches one could imagine. It was Nixon saying " I am not a crook".

While the mainstream news media were tripping over themselves to praise the speech, ( the now bankrupt Philadelphia Inquirer called it his "Lincoln Moment") more sober observers, like former New York Mayor Ed Koch and a Democrat, called Obama's speech so self-serving that he even threw his own white grandmother under the bus just to try and save his political neck.

It was a tour de force of intellectual dishonesty that the media just ate up because the media has always had a hard time dealing with race in an honest way, and eating out of Obama's hand was not only easier, it was what they thought they were supposed to do -- and Obama knew it. And he fed them. And they ate it up. And to a great extent many still are.

What Obama's speech on race really turned out to be was not a Lincoln Moment but Obama's Eddie Haskell moment, reminiscent of the disingenuous ingratiating character on the old Leave it to Beaver series who tries to glad hand everyone. Almost everything Obama has done as president has been to try and ingratiate himself to an enemy whether it was Amadinjead and "not wanting to meddle" in Iran's affairs during the election protests or right wing Republicans who opposed the public option. The speech was so unmemorable no one can remember or quote a word he said.

Most recently Obama showed just how political and disingenuous he can be on race with something as innocuous as his census form.

With a government publicity campaign trying to get people to cooperate with the census, Obama knew his own census form would be used as an example to others. He knew his census form would be made public. So when he had to indicate his race on the form he did what he's done many times before - he lied and did what he believed was to his political advantage even if it meant once again throwing his own white mother and grandmother under the same bus he threw Shirley Sherrod and Sgt. Crowley

Obama indicated on his census form that his race was black and not mixed which is what he really is. He did it because he knows he is where he is because the media and many whites and blacks made his candidacy a cause celebre based solely on race, calling him the first black president which he isn't. His racial make up is the same as Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter -- a white mother and black father and no one ever referred to Jeter as the Yankees first black shortstop.

One would think being a mixed race president would be a strong enough piece of symbolism but first black president sounded better and that's what the media calls him because race and only race is what motivated the media to get behind him. Which took everything Martin Luther King lived and died for and threw it out the window. Which is why the media is so reluctant to deal with race honestly. If they did they would have to admit a lot of things they would prefer to deny.

Like the fact that what Geraldine Ferraro said during the primaries was true -- that with his less than desireable character traits, lack of any proven ability and no accomplishments in 12 years as a legislator, if Obama had been white he would have been considered a joke as a presidential candidate.

It was the color of Obama's skin, not the content of his character that drove the media and fueled what was nothing less than unconscionable bias by people like Keith Olbermann, the Huffington Post, the Nation, Michael Moore. the New York Times and Jonathan Alter, just to name some of the more egregious and biased members of the media.

The media vilified Ferraro for her statement because it was true and it also exposed the media's own failures and bias when it came to race.

The same thing happened during the Democratic primaries when the press vilified Bill and Hillary Clinton for statements they both made during the South Carolina primaries which rained on their racial parade. So they called Bill and Hillary Clinton "racist" instead of admitting that every word they said was true. (When Obama won the South Carolina primary the press tried to make it sound like this was the definitive moment of the campaign. When Bill said not so fast, South Carolina is known for some strange things politically and it would be a mistake to define the entire primary campaign by what happened in South Carolina, they called Clinton racist. Can anybody say "Alvin Greene"?)

The press and Obama tried to use race as a racial wedge -- if you were for Obama you were a good person and if you were against him you were a racist. That cowed a lot of weak impressionable people, black and white, in and out of the news media.

When Obama had to officially state his race on a census form he lied because mixed race isn't what the news media was excited about . And he knows it. It was "first black president" and he was going to keep that up for political reasons even if it meant denying the existence of a white mother and white grandmother, the people who brought him up and denying 50% of who he is.

This is who Chuck Todd called the country's most eloquent spokesman in the country on race. And this is why the media is where it is.


Madazel said...

Yes!! You have nailed it in this post, Marc! Thanks You! I was called a racist for looking past this man's skin color to his record as a public servant.

Before Geraldine Ferraro said what she said I had thought the exact thing she was saying. When her comment was blown out of proportion by the media I knew something was not right (cue lightbulb).

And here we are taking backward steps on the issue of understanding race and gender bias.

Anonymous said...

He is becoming a master of the Big Lie.

From Wiki:

The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, for a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

susan h said...

Marc, right on! Obama is nothing more than a master of deceipt and deception, a con man, and as you said in many of your posts during the 2008 primary, a snake oil salesman. He is not even 50% African American, as his supposed father, Barack Obama, Sr., likes to call himself Arab. But he has played the RACE CARD since day one on the campaign trail and is still trying to do it.

As an ardent Hillary supporter and at the time loyal democrat, I MIGHT have voted for this fraud after he stole the primary from Hillary had it not been for his disgusting use of the race card. Once he started down that road, I knew I could not ever support him or a party that allowed the race card to be use in such a gross fashion. P.S. All of Obama's speeches lack substance - like his acceptance speech at the Coloseum in Denver with the large pillars when I literally fell asleep while he gave his grandiose speech to the peasants he had gathered for the occasion.

G. said...

Thanks for not forgetting the census form or Geraldine Ferraro. I couldn't believe he would mark himself black, when everyone knew he wasn't, and I came this close to being called a racist for defending Ferraro.

Sue said...

Every word is so true Marc.
I was called a racist for the first time in my life during the primaries. I was at first flabbergasted and I sulted but it became so common back in 08 that I began to give myself the moniker just to avoid the sting.
As the journOlist showed- if you use race, you can scare a lot of people.
As one who has always worked to build bridges, I feel like a salmon thanks to Obama.

Anonymous said...

G, if he's not black then what is he?
Susan h you must be the dumbest one on this blog! it's Obama's fault that the tea party sprance around racist signs? It's Obama's fault that 400 percent of death treaths written by racists? And you have the audacity to blame Obama for hilliary's stupidity on the primary and you people say Obama's depicting race and yet you people are doing the same anyway by posting racist statments in part of the comments!

Sue said...

Anonymous posted today- what racist comments do you see here? Name one.
As for Susan, she is absolutely correct that Obama stole the primary- it wasn't Hillary's stupidity as you say but Obama and his campaign's dishonesty with the caucuses.
Hust ask yourself Anonymous- how does an unknown win Iowa, thus serving the stage? How does one candidate win the Texas two step with a firm win in the election but go on to lose delegates in the caucus? And don't forget Indiana, kids being bussed from school to vote.
Obama has been nothing but a dishonest hologram.