Memo to the White House

The Shirley Sherrod case has shown the wrath of the conservative media and the meekness of the White House. It’s time for President Obama and his team to get fired up.

Dear the White House, the Democrats, the left-leaning side of the media, and anybody who indulged in the lies of Andrew Breitbart and the subsequent venomous propagation by Fox News:

Stand up for yourselves, start pointing fingers and hold liars accountable.

The Shirley Sherrod controversy is just the latest installment of a long line of incidences whereby the administration did nothing wrong to begin with, and then, to react to media hype, screws up.  This has happened before, more than a few times.  Somebody somewhere (in this case, a right-wing blogger) would make damning allegations against someone or some policy in the administration, and the White House would react as if these allegations were true and get into ‘damage control mode’, as if it is always their fault.

When one thinks of examples, the Van Jones case comes to mind.  But there are others, such as the debates on health care, cap-and-trade, and the stimulus, where the White House has been confronted with all sorts of slandering, ridiculous, and flat out insulting claims, and they would act totally apologetic, and, without any trace of flare, issue some kind of lame guesture of rebuttal.

Look no further than the myth about the ‘death panels’ during the health care debate.  The Tea Partiers and the far right started spreading this claim that seniors will essentially be told whether their lives should be ended, and this was subsequently adopted into the rhetoric of some prominent Republicans (Sarah Palin, for example).

Also, during the lead up to the signing of the stimulus bill, many in the far right have claimed that the Recovery Act is a ‘government takeover’, with others going as far as saying we’ve turned into a socialist state.

Time and again, no one in the White House stood up to blast away these lies.

Remember though, I am not asking for anyone in the administration to literally stand up and start yelling at people.  But I would very much like to see guys like David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and even President Obama himself, use more direct and forceful language to put these lies to rest.

The liberal media has taken notice of this for quite some time.  Many have expressed their frustration with the administration’s inability to condemn the lies propagated by the right.  Various commentators have also grew tired of the administration’s rhetoric of bipartisanship, and has called on the President to reinforce the liberal base and get bills passed without Republican help.

Here is Ed Schultz blasting both Fox News and The White House about the Shirley Sherrod debacle:

“The White House just can’t stand up to Fox News has to say, don’t they?”

No, they can’t.

I don’t necessarily think that the White House is afraid of Fox News like Ed says, but the administration does have a habit of going on the defensive when something like this happens.  Instead of fact checking the claims and attacking the lies and those who perpetrate them, the White House just assumed that the other side is right and starts PR damage control for something they didn’t do wrong (ie employing Ms. Sherrod).

You can tell that Schultz is fed up with the White House’s constant bowing down to Fox News.  The White House staff probably knows that Fox News has high ratings and therefore high viewership.  And they interpret this as political leverage, which means that anything Fox News has to say is of significance.

Watch what Bill Maher says a few months ago, right after the passage of health care reform (starting watching at 2:58 for the final New Rule):

Maher has asked numerous times why President Obama hasn’t acted like President Bush when it came to getting bills passed in Congress.  When Bush wanted something done, he got it done; most of those things may not have been the wisest of ideas, but that’s not the point.  The point is, Bush did not waste a second even pretending that he intended to please the liberal populations during his tenure.

Finally, in a chapter titled “How Democrats can lose the upcoming elections” in Michael Moore’s book Mike’s Election Guide 08′, Moore alerted the reader of what the consequences would be if the Democratic presidential candidate abandons his liberal base to please the right.

Moore argues that America is becoming more liberal as a country.  True or not, this liberal populace is being ignored right now in favor of often-radical conservative sensationalism.

Alas, it seems like Obama’s bipartisan rhetoric has gotten the best of him.  It’s not from him not trying.  He has demonstrated willingness to reach across the isle for compromises.  But when the opposition is so adamant that they will not change their minds no matter what he says, then it becomes a waste of time to try to jump start any meaningful discussions.

Obama can blame the media all he wants, but he has to look himself in the mirror and really think about what Fox News has done to his presidency, and whether if they should be allowed to get away with it.

“I’ve told my team and I told my agencies that we have to make sure that we’re focusing on doing the right thing instead of what looks to be politically necessary at that very moment. We have to take our time and, and think these issues through.”

Yes, of course you say that now.

While everyone is engulfed in fury about Breitbart and Fox News over the Shirley Sherrod case, let us not forget this was a horrible embarrassment on the part of Tom Vilsack and the White House.  They fired someone because of an edited blog video posted by a right wing ideologue, pure and simple.

“If there’s a lesson to be drawn from this episode,” the President continued, it’s to avoid “jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers at each other.”

Yes, Mr. President.  We’ve been doing this since we were teens.  But the adults who are running the country aren’t.

Author: dky1

A graduated (but still caffeinated) student. I write mostly politics and movie reviews in the Third Cup blog, and some fiction, short stories, and gaming journal on the Loner's Diaries blog.

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