Saturday, July 24, 2010

Earning Respect The Old Fashioned Way [Anthony McCarthy]

What a week to be without a computer to call my own!

The first thing to learn from the sliming, abandonment and subsequent vindication and rising of Shirley Sherrod is that her example disproves one of the foundations of machismo and patriarchy. In every way she showed that she had more courage, more wisdom, more fortitude, higher ethics and a greater devotion to duty than any of the men who lied about her from the right or who joined in with them from the Obama administration. Being one of the rare individuals who have stood up to the FOX centered right wing lie machine, STOOD UP TO, NOT PRETENDED THEY DIDN'T EXIST, and to have won against them to the extent that the FOX liars turned tail and made believe they weren't the ones who ran with Breitbart's cut and paste lie, should teach Barack Obama more lessons about politics than he's learned in all his previous experience.

The macho inner circle of the Obama administration could learn something from Shirley Sherrod but it's unlikely they will. She is the kind of person that Rahm Emanuel calls names and which the entire administration has turned its back on since before they took office. This incident is about as pure a microcosm of the problem with the Obama administration, its cynical and cowardly capitulation to the right in the Democratic party and the Republicans, the corporate oligarchs at the expense of its voter base. People are wondering why Barack Obama hasn't gotten the political benefit of his, admittedly, important steps forward, that record of needlessly giving away even more progress to people who will never support him out of sheer cowardice is the reason. He comes across as a strong, bold voice, but the voice has turned out to conceal a timid, conventional politician, albeit one who is very intelligent.

The qualities and principles which made Ms. Sherrod stand up and tell the truth while the administration triangulated itself into a disaster is of the first importance for the Obama administration and Democrats to discover. I think one of the keys is in her hesitancy to take a job in Washington instead of staying in Georgia. Molly Ivins was right, just about everyone in DC ends up saying the same things and doing the same things. The DC milieu rewards cowardly conformity, it rewards corruption and it punishes integrity that disadvantages or could possibly, conceivably endanger the massive system of privilege that is centered there. Entry into the DC elite is not granted to everyone, just as a law degree from an Ivy isn't granted to everyone. Many of the people in the administration, at the higher levels are either full members of the DC elite or they aspire to it. They aspire to the large salaries gotten by corrupting the government on behalf of the wealthy, the glitzy social life, the privileges, the attention, the call that they want you for Meet The Press. They love the attention.

Ms. Sherrod has shown us a good example of how stunningly impressive it can be to tell the simple truth, to refuse to distort it, to refuse to back down in the face of FOX and the entire corporate lie machine going full tilt. It's a lesson that, tragically, ACORN didn't learn fast enough. Maybe it's because she is an individual, she had no organization to protect, she wasn't invested in circling the wagons and trying to wait out the lies. That she was able to win by telling the simple truth the only thing she was invested in should tell the Obama administration something. That the truth is the bedrock, it is the only thing that really will set you free and make progress. It should tell them that MOST of the American People will recognize the truth when they see it and that lies, even those told by the minions of Murdoch on FOX, those started and spread by Drudge, Breitbart, and the rest of those with ties to the DC media, must be fought tirelessly and constantly. Fighting lies is as important as telling the truth to begin with. Lies have the financial support of the oligarchs, our only weapon against them is truth and integrity and bravery and unflagging courage such as we had the privilege of seeing this week.

What we see in the Obama administration isn't a bold step forward, it's baby steps taken by people too invested in the system to challenge it, too afraid of losing a fight to really take it on. Its the same thing we see in the Democratic caucus of the Senate and the Blue Dogs in the House. Barack Obama promised us leadership he has given us Rahm style politics. If there's a job that someone with Shirley Sherrod's integrity and courage should be offered it's as Chief of Staff.

Thank you, Shirley Sherrod. You have given me a reason to believe in the power of good.