Rushing To Judgment

One element of the whole Shirley Sherrod mess has bugged me from the outset. One aspect that has simply not made any sense whatsoever in the whole narrative. And that is how quickly the Obama administration and the NAACP jumped to distance themselves from her, and how hard they jumped.

Remember the timeline. Two elements show just how quickly they reacted:

–Breitbart posts the video at 11:18 a.m. last Monday.

–Sherrod’s own account of her dismissal.

Sherrod says that she was called while driving home from work. Her boss told her that the White House had called three times to get her fired, because she was “going to be on Glenn Beck’s show tonight.”

Beck’s show airs at 5:00 p.m. That means that the White House had called three separate times between 11:18 and then. (It also means that Sherrod had already left work before 5:00, but she could have gotten an early start that day.) And between each call, there was enough time for Sherrod’s bosses to get hold of her and garner her resignation — say, at least half an hour. So knock another 90 minutes off the time frame. That means that the White House decided she had to go no later than 3:30 that afternoon, and in all likelihood even sooner.

In that 4-hour window, what elements factored into their decision to get rid of Sherrod? Besides the Breitbart video, obviously.

Certainly not Breitbart’s reputation. After all, Breitbart is a notoriously dishonest, hyperpartisan smear artist and fraud. The guy has no credibility whatsoever. Just ask any leftist. If they had their druthers, he’d have those terms legally appended to his name — Andrew “Dishonest Hyperpartisan Smear Artist Liar Fraud Scumbag” Breitbart. (Imagine trying to squeeze all that on to the signature line of a check. Even if he just used initials, he’d run off the end of the line.)

But for all their words about how awful Breitbart is, the reactions of the Obama administration and the NAACP put thei lie to them. They absolutely took him at his word. Neither of them tried to review the full video before jumping on Sherrod with both feet. Neither tried to contact Sherrod for her side of events. Neither sought anyone who might have attended the event for their account.

As I said, this made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. There had to be another element at play here, besides Breitbart’s own reputation.

And then I made the connection: the old saying “you can’t con an honest man.”

Nearly all confidence schemes are, at their core, contingent on the greed and dishonesty of the mark. The mark has to know the deal sounds too good to be true, has to believe that they are getting something for nothing, that they are benefiting from some kind of fraud. In the end, they lose out because they let their cupidity overpower their integrity and common sense. They were predisposed to dishonesty.

Likewise, I find it extremely plausible that both the Obama administration and the NAACP jumped so hard on Sherrod because they knew, beforehand, that what she said in that video — confessing to discriminating against whites and carrying a racial grudge — was entirely within her character. They reacted so quickly and so firmly not because they were unaware of her beliefs, but because they were surprised it came out so clearly.

Sherrod’s own behavior in the aftermath gives evidence of this scenario. Yes, she denounced Breitbart — that’s only to be expected. But she went way, way too far in her attacks — in an interview with Anderson Cooper, she said “I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That’s where I think he would like to see all black people end up again. And I think that’s why he’s so vicious against a black president, you know. He would go after me. I don’t think it was even the NAACP he was totally after. I think he was after a black president.”

Further, in that same speech that Breitbart excerpted, she said “You know, I haven’t seen such a mean-spirited people as I’ve seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried. Didn’t it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bush’s and we didn’t do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President.”

And her husband’s a piece of work, too. He said, fairly recently, that “we must stop the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections. We must not be afraid to vote black. And we must not be afraid to turn a black out who votes against our interests.”

The Sherrods tend to wear their politics on their sleeves. Or, at least, their children. Their children, born in the 1960’s (about my age), are named “Russia” and “Kenyatta.”

Remember, also, that Sherrod was appointed to her position immediately after winning a billion-dollar settlement against said Department in a lawsuit dating back over a decade. She was no stranger to career Department of Agriculture employees, who’d had an adversarial relationship with her.

It all ties together. As an unwritten (but understood) portion of the settling of Sherrod’s lawsuit, she gets a plum job with the Department of Agriculture. The Obama administration know she’s a loose cannon on racial matters, but they figure that bringing her in will at least give them a slight measure of control over her. Yeah, she was a racist, Marxist demagogue, but she was their racist, Marxist demagogue. Give her a mid-level job to shut her up.

Until the video came out. And the reactions make perfect sense in that context. The Obama administration wasn’t dismayed about her statements, but worried about their using a federal job to buy off Sherrod. And the NAACP was afraid that the video would not only show the kind of person they considered worthy of public honor and acclaim, but the audience — all staunch members and supporters of the NAACP — expressing their approval of her admissions of discriminating against whites.

Was Sherrod improperly fired? Most likely. But it’s becoming clear that she was improperly hired in the first place.

And she was so quickly fired and denounced because the Obama administration and the NAACP weren’t surprised about who she was, but that it was revealed so starkly.

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