I assume that everybody knows all there is to know about the Shirley Sherrod affair. There has been plenty of speculation that the edited Breitbart tape was the opening salvo in a Republican strategy that seeks to portray Obama’s almost hysterically racially neutral administration as favoring blacks over whites – a commonly voiced fear from elderly and working class voters before Obama’s election. An interesting take on the timing of Breitbart’s release of the doctored tape that was presented on TPM last week takes this speculation even further:
It’s also important to understand that Andrew Breitbart’s timing of the release of the grossly distorted video of Sherrod, which he admits having had for weeks, may not be entirely random. Congress will soon vote on whether to fund part of a settlement between the USDA and African-American farmers who faced acknowledged discrimination — farmers like Sherrod and her husband used to be.
From this perspective, the manufactured controversy might have proven to be an effective ploy – in spite of the fact that Breitbart’s selective editing was quickly discovered. Only a few days after all the noise about Sherrod began, the Senate stripped from the war funding bill the allocation for the Pigford II settlement, which would have directed that $1.25 billion in reparations be paid to black farmers who were openly discriminated against by USDA in the 80s and 90s.
Harry Reid’s response to the defeat:
I hoped that tonight the Senate could finally right a wrong that has been left unresolved for far too long. … As recent events have reminded us, the fact that justice and fairness were denied to black farmers for so many years continues to have ramifications today. … Republicans should be held accountable for standing in the way of justice for those affected.
Reid is right about the injustice, but wrong to lay the blame on solely on Republicans. As usual, many of the hard-core, Democratic “moderates” (self-labeled) in the Senate voted along with the Republicans – a point of shame for us in here in Missouri since our own Claire McCaskill once more showed her contempt for Democratic values by joining the folks on the other side of the aisle, who more and more seem to be her true cohorts.
Why, Claire, one is tempted to ask. Does it have anything to do with her absurd deficit posturing (see also here) – which in itself constitutes a potentially harmful little legislative hobby she has taken up in order, one suspects, to appeal to what she seems to believe to be “common-sense” preferences of small town and surburban Missourians. Or perhaps she is really concerned that the racial overtones that often pervade discourse about government spending in Missouri were just too strong in this case – which means that McCaskill will easily be stampeded to the right in order to avoid the fallout from a Republican race-baiting strategy.
The one thing we can be sure of is that the answer with McCaskill always seems to be that she goes along in order to try to get along. In other words, she has no respect for her constituents and is running scared of what she considers their general meanness. Which means that we’ll have to work harder to let her know that we are better than she thinks we are before it’s too late.