By now most Missourians who are even remotely tuned into state politics have heard that Lt. Governor Peter Kinder was contending that his $86,000 salary was not enough to stave off penury. His proposed solution: a per diem allowance of $103 for each day he spends in Jefferson city doing – wait for it – essentially nothing. But, hey, who can blame him? His cohorts in the legislature not only get that exact per diem allowance, but make out like bandits with gobs of lobbyist swag that likely doesn’t come his way that often.
Unfortunately for Kinder’s endangered quality of life, it seems his peers in the legislature either didn’t take his situation seriously or were unwilling to risk the ire of constituents who are managing to eke out a living on considerably less than $86,000. There’ll be no per diem for Lt. Governor Kinder. As a consequence, I surmise that he might be in a bad mood. He’s facing abject poverty, after all.
And bad mood might be the only way to explain his latest news-making move. The Lt. Governor has decided to weigh in on the topic of racism and the Ferguson uproar. And what he had to say either demonstrates the type of displaced anger that leaves one making ill-considered remarks that one regrets later when emotional and mental equilibrium are restored, or it’s just racist, dim-witted dribble. Judge for yourself:
The lieutenant governor of Missouri says “there is more racism in the Justice Department” than in the St. Louis area, pointing the finger at President Obama and the Justice Department who, he says, often incited “the mob” in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown back in August of 2014.
“The whole blow up of this protest movement was based on the lie that never happened of ‘hands up don’t shoot,'” Peter Kinder, the Lt. governor told NewsMaxTV’s Steve Malzberg Show Monday. “But it’s bad enough the protestors were behaving that way but we have a right to expect more from the attorney general, the head of the Justice Department of the United States, and the president of the United States. And instead what we got too often from them was incitement of the mob, and, uh, encouraging disorder in Ferguson and distributing the peaceable going-about of our lives in the greater St. Louis region.”
Kinder added President Obama and Eric Holder “took one side” following the death of Michael Brown. Asked why, he said the Justice Department was “staffed with radical, hard-left radical, leftists lawyers.”
He called the Justice Department under Holder, “not like any Justice Department in American history” and “Eric Holder is unlike any previous attorney general.”
“Many of them have spent most of their careers defending Black Panthers and other violent radicals,” he added. “
So the entire “blow up” was the result of a “lie”? Evidently, Kinder didn’t read or lacks the capacity to process the Department of Justice (DoJ) report on Ferguson policing and justice systems. Nor does he seem to understand what a mere spark can do to a field that’s ready to burn. But, just as the mayor of Ferguson claimed that the thorough DoJ investigative report doesn’t constitute “proof” of racial misbehavior, Kinder thinks that we can disregard the well-substantiated facts recounted in the report because “Eric Holder is “unlike any previous attorney general” – which is to say, he’s black and, hence, ipso facto, in cahoots with radicals whose legal careers have been limited to “defending Black Panthers and other violent radicals.”
Is this resentment feeding on resentment? A sad, resentful man appealing in turn to the white resentment that fuels so much of the right wing? Do you think maybe Kinder wants a little appreciation from the types who think that the state of race relations leans a little too much toward those damned “takers.” Do you think he might be trying to erase the memory of the ridicule he excited the last time he stuck his head up into the light and demanded poverty relief?
I wonder, though, do you think that if people had to supply supporting evidence for such absurd claims before anyone would report on it, they’d think twice about what they had to say? What is the correct label for someone who puts ugly, unsubstantiated libels into the public record? And fails to take it back, apologise, explain that he was in a funk, had a headache, whatever, when he’s called on it (not too stringently, admittedly) by the media?
I recollect the efforts of St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Tony Messenger to avoid, in his own words, contributing to “this state’s political problems, rather than elevating the discourse” after the dust-up about hateful political rhetoric that occurred in the wake of Tom Schweich’s recent suicide. Specifically, he apologised for calling a State Senator Kurt Schaeffer a fool when, he said, it would have sufficed to point out that one of Schaeffer’s legislative efforts was foolish. His mea culpa, no matter how admirable, bothered me – I hope to have more to say about it in the future – because if discourse is to be elevated, all the participants have to agree about the height of the plane on which they are going to get together and discuss. Otherwise, those who insist on going alone to the most elevated level will have nothing do do except shout into the wind.
Peter Kinder has revealed himself as one of those people who experience uncontrollable vertigo when confronted with the ladder that leads to that higher space. They confuse ideological labels with facts, the expedient with the good, their own good with that of everyone. Such people can do lots of harm – and are doing so daily in the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress and statehouses across the country. Such behavior is demonstrably foolish. And we call those who act foolishly fools, among other things. The correct label for Peter Kinder is fool, among other things. No apology will be offered.