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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

News Roundup, 4/30/2008: And Lo, the Sixth Seal was Broken

Watch out for the rain of toads - Clinton is going to O'Reilly Town and Bush thinks Congress is to blame for all the costinating at the grocery pump.

I understand that major candidates have to go to the lion's den, wherever it is. For Democrats, that den is Fox News. Senator Hillary Clinton will appear on The O'Reilly Factor, and much like Obama did not try to rip Chris Wallace apart, Clinton's campaign says that she will be keeping it moderate in the House of Bill-O. I'm not sure that going into Fox News with hackles raised ever accomplishes much, even though we all thought it was fun when Bill Clinton went after Wallace. Hackle-raising may be what Fox News producers are after in the first place.

In another confrontation that has seemed long in the making, Senator Barack Obama renounced Pastor Jeremiah Wright yesterday. I believe it was Chuck Todd who said that "If Reverend Wright threw Obama under the bus, Obama just drove the bus over Wright." I'm not sure what the net result of it all will be, but I am inclined to agree with the punditocracy that Obama was up against it and, after Wright's theatrics on Monday, had literally no choice but to lay down the law.

Senator Carl Levin and other Michigan democrats have offered a compromise to the campaigns' compromises on seating the Michigan delegates, and see all the plans that are coming out for Michigan makes me as: where are the similar ideas about Florida? Or is just too nice this time of year to hammer out agreements?

Would you like to turn sugar into gas for far cheaper than you can pay for it? Now you can. This reminds me of the stories my father used to tell me about when he worked for GM in Michigan, and how they had a carburetor in a safe that got 100 miles to the gallon. In the 1970's.

I'll keep this next one simple, but you can probably get the whole story from the context: Iraq, defense contracts, KBR, art, gold, sexual assault, your tax dollars. The Aristocrats.

Lastly today: as the Fed prepares to drop the key interest rate (again) to 2 percent, President Bush is trying to sell the American people on the idea that somehow Congressional Democrats are to blame for the economy's continued woes. Somehow, I don't think that the sales pitch will work this time.

Our Wright Wing Media

Once more in this election cycle, you'd think that Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the one running for President.

Before I say this, I want to put the disclaimer out there that I am as white as the driven snow. My ethnic background is a puddle of Scots-Irish-Armenian. That being said, my viewpoint of this whole affair is that this is nothing more than by-the-numbers racism hiding under a thin veneer of hucksterism on the part of the cable media.

Maybe I feel this way because I am agnostic when it comes to religion. When I hear what Reverend Wright says, I don't think it's any more ridiculous or offensive than what Jerry Falwell said while he was alive, what Pat Robertson says, what John Hagee says or what Tony Perkins says. So, riddle me this: What's the difference between Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright versus John McCain, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, John Hagee and Tony Perkins?

Besides the fact that one Senator is inexorably tied to every statement his former pastor makes while the other Senator is given a free pass for every backwards, medieval utterance that comes from the religious figures endorsing him, the difference is easy. Obama and Wright are African American and McCain, Falwell, Robertson, Hagee and Perkins are Anglo American.

If we were to indulge the Peter Pan beliefs about this country that the cable media are peddling, you'd believe that White America is just now discovering that Black America is still angry about the way they've been treated and they're shocked...shocked, I tell ya!...that these feelings persist in this day and age.

Our media needs to grow the hell up, pure and simple. But I won't be holding my breath for that to happen, especially when there's an election to poison.

Another possibility

As far as the difference between Obama/Wright and McCain/Robertson/Hagee/etc. -- I suppose it could be racism. But what I have always assumed is pretty detached from that. The reason what Wright says reflects badly on Obama, even though it may be just as out there as what Hagee says, is that the people that would elect Obama would find what Wright says offensive. McCain is not burdened by that problem.

Good Point And Another Comment

That's a very good point, George. I meant to mention something along those lines in my screed.

I feel that breaks down in the nearly blanket pass that McCain gets for his fundamentalist religious associates from the cable media. People who will vote for McCain in November don't know the kinds of things Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, Perkins, et. al. have said because there's nowhere near the sustained coverage of it in the cable media that Jeremiah Wright's comments have garnered.

Sure, there's that 30% who will vote for him because he's the closest thing to a theocrat in this election. But I think a large number of non-culture war voters would be startled if they knew what some of McCain's endorsements think about 9/11 (we brought it on ourselves), AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, etc.

More to the point, I think a large number of those people would be inclined to be a bit more skeptical of him and a bit more interested in his record if these things received the kind of feting that CNN and MSNBC are giving Jeremiah Wright's every statement.

And if there's one thing John McCain can't hold up to, it's skepticism and inquiry.

But he doesn't have much to fear at this juncture because our cable media are having too good of a time with their soft core race-baiting.

Race-Baiting? And who did you say was doing it?

"Race baiting is the term for an act of using racially derisive language, actions or other forms of communication, to anger, intimidate or incite a person or groups of people, or to make those persons behave in ways that are inimical to their personal or group interests. This can also be accomplished by implying that there is an underlying race based motive in the actions of others towards the group baited, where none in fact exists. The term "race" in this context can be construed very broadly to include the social constructs which define race or racial difference, as well as ethnic, religious, gender and economic differences. Thus the use of any language or actions perceived to be for the purpose of exploiting weaknesses in persons who can be identified as members of certain groups, or to reinforce a group's perceived victimhood, can be contained within the concept of "race baiting." Many people who practice race baiting often believe in racism, or have an interest in making the group believe that racism is what motivates the actions of others.

The term "race baiting" is often a critique of anti-racist actions and communications implying that those who criticize apparent racism are themselves guilty of either a form of racism or of simple manipulation."

That's A Great Definition

Particularly that last line in the main paragraph. "Many people who practice race baiting often believe in racism, or have an interest in making the group believe that racism is what motivates the actions of others."

Which is exactly what our cable media are doing by incessantly running stories about Reverend Wright while running no stories about Senator McCain's spiritual endorsements.

Why do I say this? Because 32% of respondents in a recent NBC/WSJ poll said that they had concerns about Senator Obama's values because of his association with Reverend Wright. Note that conditional relationship: Respondents were concerned about Obama's values because of the radical things his former pastor has said, not because of the things Obama has said.

What I want to know is how many respondents would have concerns about Senator McCain's values because of his association with a guy who thinks American brought 9/11 on itself by living in sin (Falwell)? What I want to know is how many respondents would have concerns about Senator McCain's values because of his association with a guy who thinks Hurricane Katrina was divine retribution for New Orleans' culture of sin (Hagee)? What I want to know is how many respondents would have concerns about Senator McCain's values because of his association with a guy who thinks AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality (Robertson)?

Looking back at the poll I mentioned above, 54% of respondents prefer John McCain, the guy who cheated on and divorced his first wife (who raised their kids while he was a POW) and used his second wife's fortune to start his political career, for his values over either Senator Clinton (46%) or Senator Obama (45%). There's not one peep in there about any of the statements above reflecting on McCain's values. Why is that? Because he's given a pass by the cable talking heads about his crazy spiritual endorsements while Obama can't get away from his crazy former pastor.

I simply do not see how this can be anything other than race-baiting, unchainthedogs. If this were truly about the radical, inflammatory, controversial content of what Wright, Falwell, Hagee and Robertson have said, then we'd be hearing about all of them. Instead, we're only hearing about Wright. At some point during most of the segments I've seen these last couple of days on CNN about Wright, he's shown in a split screen with Obama. Where's McCain's split screen with Falwell? Hagee? Robertson? Nowhere to be seen. It's this kind of instrumental presentation, it's this kind of one-sided treatment that leads me to label this cable coverage as soft core race-baiting.

I think it's important to shine a light on the one-sided manner in which this story is being pushed, not because of the Clinton v. Obama dynamic, but because of the eventual nominee v. McCain dynamic. The cable talking heads are just getting warmed up for the general election and they'll have their knives out for Senator Clinton if she's the nominee just as sure as they're carving up Obama for what his former pastor has said and is saying.

Replace race-baiting with misogyny, replace Jeremiah Wright with Vince Foster (or Bill Clinton) and replace "Bittergate" with Whitewater and you can get a whiff of what is waiting around the bend for Candidate Clinton. The more we call it what it is right now, the more we organize against it right now, the less poisonous it will be later this summer and in the Fall when it's being done during the general election.

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