Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Official.

Sec. Vilsack has offered Shirley Sherrod her job back (or working on an area that highlights her skills in Civil Rights), and accepted full responsibility for what happened. She's thinking about it. (My bet is, she takes it.

But Greg Sargent made a razor sharp analysis this morning:

It isn't enough for Vilsack to reinstate her. People should demand that his review include an explanation for his own decision to fire her. We need to hear his justification for the decision to ax this woman before all the facts were in, on the strength of nothing more than an Andrew Breitbart smear.

Did Vilsack make any effort to learn more about her speech before giving her the push? If not, why not? Sherrod says she told top USDA officials that the full speech would vindicate her. Did anyone at USDA give her protestations even a passing listen? Did anyone try to obtain video of the full speech? If not, why not? Why was Breitbart's word alone allowed to drive such a high-profile decision?

People should also demand that the White House weigh in publicly on what happened here. The White House has only discussed this via anonymous leaks, and this morning, officials are conveniently leaking word that the White House prodded Vilsack to reconsider Sherrod's firing. That's nice, but was the White House told in advance that the firing was about to happen, and if so, why did it allow the firing to proceed?

This effort to "distance" the White House from this mess is unsightly at best. This was a major, high-profile screw-up by a cabinet secretary, and as Ben Smith notes this morning, it highlights this White House's tendency to sidestep racial controversies and cede turf to the right's efforts to stoke racial resentment.

This is an opportunity for the White House to drive home the point that the Breitbart-Fox-Glenn Beck axis -- which is out to destroy this presidency -- should be accorded no credibility whatsoever by news organizations. People should demand that the White House issue clear, unequivocal condemnation of what happened here.