Raw Story/AP - Obama: Vilsack ‘jumped the gun’ because of YouTube culture
In an excerpt of an ABC News interview broadcast Thursday night, Barack Obama said (Agriculture Secretary Tom) Vilsack had been too hasty in pushing Shirley Sherrod out.
"He jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles," Obama said.
The president said he has instructed "my team" 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 think these issues through."
It's intriguing to me that, of all the things to blame for the latest bit of 'Now you jump-how high, sir' as performed by a gaggle of fools, the one that got picked out of the hat this week was 'media culture'.
I worked (in a minor capacity) for a large online news and opinion disseminator during the 2008 primary season.
As a result of that employment, I was constantly steeped in news and reaction to the various chess games and sausage making machinations of the American electoral process, and there was no more media aware ('new' or otherwise) candidate at that time than Barack Obama. No one else came close.
Even the set-up job that was 'Bittergate', a series of candor-driven observations regarding the heartland delivered to mildly sympathetic left-coast donors - and one hostile reporter 'plant' - was swiftly steered away from the reef and deflected publicly before opponents (who privately shared the same sentiments) could use them to gain an advantage without seeming too opportunistic.
The machine that packaged and processed the candidate was smooth and ruthless in its pursuit of electoral viability. Gaffe control was in full effect.
So what happened?
Obviously, the candidate became the elected leader of a country that was rather divided over many issues, one of which was - believe it or not in the 21st fucking century - whether a person of color should even hold that office.
Frankly, in some ways Team Obama owes a debt to George W. Bush, for without his ill-starred presidency as precedent it's quite possible that many who voted for someone who appeared diametrically opposed to what came before would never have done so if the situation and prognosis were different - i.e., whiter (in flesh tone) and brighter (in financial terms).
Since the prize had been obtained, there was no need to maintain the lineup of media pros who could counteract the spin and optics of dedicated negativity merchants and put their man in the best light possible at all times...And when they left, Team Obama went on defense with a crew far less obsessed with taking the high ground and more with positioning their leader for an inoffensive far-off electoral suitability.
The problem with playing defense in this game is that it is a reactive position - and that in the modern era one's opponents have dispensed with such quaint niceties as 'rules' and 'morals' in an attempt to streamline a massive victory over those they believe utterly to be their inferiors. Thus, they can say and do anything they please with no ethical compass save 'Just win, baby', and dismiss the consequences with an airy wave of the hand, while their target is left to sputter and fume in the media spotlight.
'Media culture' is not to blame here - Andrew Breitbart (who commissioned a selectively edited version of an otherwise innocuous video for broadcast to assail his ideological enemies) is to blame for creating the situation (as he has been before), and he and others like him will continue to do so until they are stopped...One way or the other.
However, the blame for Shirley Sherrod's forced resignation lies strictly with a White House administration blithely seeking comity from dedicated enemies and seeking to appease those determined to destroy it without regard to cost.
With all the facts at their disposal and enough relative time to process them and respond in a decisive manner, they rushed the response...and blew it.
As a result, an honorable career lies in tatters and an executive's crafted reputation for sound, prudent judgment lies alongside.
If you're going to play this game, people...You'd better learn the rules.