Jewish World Review July 26, 2010 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5770
Obama's fall guy in Shirley Sherrod case is Vilsack the Pooh
By John Kass
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In post-racial America, whenever conservatives provoke liberals to foolishly overreact in a racial controversy and step right into the doo-doo, two things are required:
A ticket to "sensitivity school." And a fall guy.
Lately, we can't help getting hit with all the flying racial cards. Everything from whether
And now the latest. The knee-jerk reaction by the Obama administration in firing
So let's meet the new fall guy, Sherrod's boss, Agriculture Secretary
As you may see from the iconic photograph, Vilsack is a perfect fall guy for racial controversies. He's white. He's male. He's from
But the main thing is that he's got a ridiculous bear on his head.
"It looks like Winnie the Pooh is giving birth to Vilsack," said a colleague when I showed him the photograph of Vilsack at a children's event in 2002.
Vilsack the Pooh?
But then I showed the photo to a man from
"That bear is definitely not giving birth," said the Iowan. "It appears the bear is committing an unspeakable act to the back of the head of the secretary of agriculture."
Be that as it may, Vilsack is the fall guy.
He now says it was his decision alone to fire Sherrod over a speech she made this year to the
In a two-minute segment that became viral on conservative blogs and then
But what wasn't reported initially was the central theme of her speech: She realized that it doesn't matter what color a farmer is, if he needs help, he needs help.
If only we all could act the Shirley Sherrod way. But then what would politicians and groups that leverage skin pigments for votes, power and government benefits do for a living?
As many of you know, Sherrod's bosses ordered her to immediately type her resignation on her government BlackBerry.
She says the pressure actually came from the Obama White House.
So how is it that Vilsack is the fall guy?
Because he's the one who went before the TV cameras to say he's sorry that "a good woman" was "put through hell." He admitted to hasty action, apologized and offered her a better job.
Once a fall guy is chosen, the label must be firmly seared into the public mind. And so President
"The president expressed to Ms. Sherrod his regrets about the events of the last several days," said the
It ended with the president's hope that Sherrod would use the "misfortune" to accept a new post and "continue her hard work on behalf of those in need."
Such bureaucratic verbal surgery, while effective, is somewhat flat. So allow me to translate:
The president "regrets" what the guy with the bear on his head did to poor Ms. Sherrod, and he reinforces that it was the guy with the bear on his head — and not the president or Rahm or David or Michelle or Valerie — but the bear-head guy alone, who is very, very sorry and won't do it again.
So we're hoping she'll take the new job at better pay and a nicer government car and benefits, even an iPhone, so she won't be in the news anymore, because we feel really, really stupid, OK?
Sherrod is no fool. She accepted the Vilsack apology but not the job.
What I found most fascinating is what Sherrod said on the morning talk shows Thursday. She supports Obama yet still insists it was the
"He hasn't lived the kind of life I lived," she told CNN. "I know that he's African-American — or part African-American — many of us are not totally black in our genes, and I'm one of them," she said.
"I'd like for him — he's not someone who has experienced some of the things I've experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him. I don't know whether that would guide him in the way he deals with others like me. But I would at least like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it," she said.
Is it just me or is she telling Obama that he needs to go to
Straight away, she received a text message from the
Finally, they had their talk, and America got what it requires.
A little presidential sensitivity session.
And a guy with a bear on his head.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.
© 2008, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.