Friday, April 29, 2011

Simplistic Explanation

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus is right. Donald Trump never will be President

so we needn’t spend too much time contemplating his comb-over gone gray. Trump is more interesting as a phenomenon of modern celebrity culture than as a serious presidential prospect. He is the ultimate in bread-and­circuses politics: a glittery amusement for voters and an avalanche of free publicity for the man who craves it.

But at at least as many Republicans want Trump to be their party's nominee for President in 2012 as they do anyone else. Much of the support for the self-aggrandizing business tycoon is due to his emphasis on Barack Obama's birth, which most Republicans, even before Trump began exploiting the controversy, were unconvinced occurred in the United States of America.

And so, in an effort to head off this notion before it gains even more momentum, President Obama took to the podium Wednesday, presented his birth certificate, and confirmed his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii. But while Marcus wants "to look past the birther nonsense he has been spouting to consider the rest of the nonsense he has been spouting." Goldie Taylor of is incensed that "for the first time in recorded history, a sitting president of the United States found it necessary to produce his original birth certificate for public inspection."

In a commentary unfortunately featured on Wednesday's The Rachel Maddow Show, Ms. Taylor inferred that race is at the root of Donald Trump's nonsense and, it would appear, of all evil:

When they tell you this isn't racial, don't believe them. This controversy was constructed solely as a way to de-legitimize the presidency of a black man. Those who question the location of Barack Obama's birth are the very same people who would pack up and move out of the neighborhood if someone like me moved in next door.

When they say they want to take their country back, they mean from us.

A review of the website of The Goldie Taylor Project (Taylor's blog) reveals that Ms. Taylor is a very accomplished, and probably very affluent, individual. Now a blogger and executive consultant for NBC News, she recently was

an executive editorial and marketing consultant for TimeWarner/ CNN Worldwide where she co-led the development and marketing of marquee productions, including: League of First Time Voters, Black in America (I & II), Daughters of Legacy, Latino in America, The Atlanta Child Murders, and The Joy Behar Show. She developed the network’s daily tune-in strategy for both HLN and CNN prime time, and participated in the design of CNN’s 2008 Election Coverage.... (and has) has led public affairs, government relations and communications on behalf of some of the world’s best known brands—including The Home Depot, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee Foods– and served as a senior executive with two of the largest global communications concerns.

Taylor alleges Obama birth skeptics "would pack up and move out of the neighborhood if someone like me moved in next door." Where "next door" is cannot be easily determined, given that Ms. Taylor "lives with her family in New York and Atlanta."

Taylor writes eloquently of her great great grandfather Major Blackard, who 112 years ago, was "snatched" from a street corner in St. Louis and ordered to "show me your papers!" Unable to produce them, he

was posted against the brick wall, cuffed and taken to the St. Louis city jail. Unable to prove his identity, he would spend the next 21 days in a cramped, musty cell. That's where his older brother Matt found him, beaten and bloodied. Matt returned with Major's employer later that day, wallet and identification card in hand, to post bond.

From her perch of relative privilege, Ms. Taylor sees President Obama as facing oppression similar to that of her own ancestor(s). Nineteen year old Major Blackard shouldn't have had to endure the indignity, against all decency, of presenting his papers. But Barack Obama showed his voluntarily. He did so, unlike Blackard, not to avoid being arrested and beaten but to enhance his re-election prospects. Blackard was being denied his constitutional, and human, rights; there is, however, no constitutional right for a president to be immune from criticism, however irrational.

Ms. Taylor, a skilled and successful professional who has worked for both Democrats and Republicans and plays in the rarefied atmosphere her ancestors could only have dreamt of, understandably- but regrettably- sees unreasonable criticism of Barack Obama solely in racial terms. That would contrast with President Obama himself, who is loathe to attribute a racial motive to his critics, or even to attribute any of his actions to racial identity, Rush Limbaugh's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Ms. Taylor, quick to finger racial prejudice, ascribes to it the views of a whole swath of people she never has met.

Though not denying the racial component of the doubt about Obama's birthplace, tristero puts it in context when he notes

But let's not forget that there is a long, long history of the far right demonizing - not "portraying," but demonizing- Democrats as Not Real Americans. And they do so by playing not only the race card, but the class card, the gender card, the foreigner card ("He looks French!"), the gay card, the elitist card, and every other card they can think of playing. Nothing - absolutely nothing - is off limits.

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