By Robert S. Becker July 26, "10
The Shirley Sherrod "politics of panic" indignity dramatizes my provocations, recast from last week:
Why is this energetic, veteran White House repeatedly shellacked in the message-framing wars by overtly deceitful Republicans? Why can't the president command the public forum let alone connect to Main Street, pass legislation a majority favors, leveragehis own huge '08 constituency, and countermand ambushes bythe likes of Sarah Palin?
Just what the wavering Obama government needed: another train wreck week of bad news, with bad messaging compounding bad long-term framing (terms from George Lakoff). So little about real programs or solutions, so much about personal failings especially reactive, panicky leadership. The Sherrod fiasco is, alas, no anomaly, reinforcing the question no administration can long endure, "who, if anyone, is in charge"?
Certainly, the Sherrod blunder provides jaw-dropping proof this White House remains a sitting duck for in-your-face, rightwing mugging, even from notorious dirty tricksters. What is it about Mark Twain's quip WH officials don't get, "A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on"? Had Ag officials demanded six hours of due diligence, a demoralizing humiliation could have become a PR bonanza, broadcasting how the predatory the vast, ultra-right smear machine works. Instead, self-immolation.
By the weekend a second blunder, wider in scope, emerged when the president underwhelmed Netroots by talking empty bromides. Here's the perfect audience, progressives dying to re-embrace a bafflingly anemic president, and he blew it.
No Inspiration, No Beef, No Advance
1) Iraqi combat missions, declared the president, will end in August [a ruse, per McClatchy, as hordes of State Dept. mercenaries will permanently replace G.I.s].