It occurs to me that the Shirley Sherrod business has turned out rather well for the Obama Administration and the liberal side of the political spectrum. Breitbart has been revealed as a mendacious thug and the conservative media is divided over whether to admit that or not – and the one thing the conservative media never wants to be is divided.
But the only reason it worked out so well for the good guys in this case is that Vilsack and Obama made the completely unjustified move of firing Shirley Sherrod in the first place without gathering the minimal evidence necessary to justify such action.
Think about it. If Sherrod had been kept on, been interviewed, explained the situation to her supervisor, and that information made its way up the chain of command until Obama’s press secretary told everybody that her remarks were “taken out of context” – well, what do you think the trajectory of this news story would have been?
At best, the world would have just moved on – and the “Obama is a racist” meme would have gotten an additional push. Most likely the story would shift seamlessly to how Obama would have fired a white person accused of racism on the spot, so even though Sherrod was not guilty of the charges the Administration’s reaction would prove it was racist. It’s even possible that we’d be talking about two “versions” or “interpretations” of the event, and people would feel totally free to continue to believe that Breitbart’s original take on Sherrod was the correct “interpretation” of her speech. And she’d never be fully cleared of the taint of racism.
But because Vilsack fired her for no good reason, she’s an innocent victim, and the story is about Breitbart. Sherrod gets her job back and nobody thinks ill of her, and the Administration winds up being criticized from the center for not standing up to the right. Which, I suspect, is just where Obama would like to be.
Interesting incentive structure, that.