Wednesday, October 03, 2012

On Further Review, Pierce's Criticism Stands

The Washington Post uses the headline "Can Romney Turn This Thing Around?"Meanwhile, Investors Business Daily goes with the more accurate "Why Americans Might Tolerate This Failed President" to describe the misguided essay against Barack Obama by George Will.The columnist, long syndicated by The Washington Post's Writer's Group, contends

A significant date in the nation’s civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues’ first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.

Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.

Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.

In "George Will Is Not Making Any Human Sense, Continued" Charles Pierce writes

First, in my capacity as the Don King of Punditland, I will make the match right now: George Effing Will vs. the Kindly Doc Rachel Maddow. Fifteen rounds. The parking lot at Caesar's. Who ya got?

Second, if Will believes that the reason the president seems to be prospering right now is because the good heart of America is giving the black fella a break, he's climbed so far up his own ass that he could sneeze and break his collarbone.

Will, who  claims "Obama's administration is in shambles," is annoyingly prone to conflating baseball with life, or anything in it.   But I'll play that game, and you can play that at home.   When Jackie Robinson was signed as a player by Branch Rickey  

Fellow players were slow to accept Robinson as a member of their team. Some were openly hostile; others refused to speak to him or even sit near him. It didn't help that Robinson began his season in a slump, unable to make a hit in the first five games.

His teammates finally rallied to Robinson's defense after witnessing several incidents in which opponents verbally and physically assaulted Robinson. One player from the St. Louis Cardinals intentionally spiked Robinson's thigh so badly, he left a large gash, prompting outrage from Robinson's teammates. In another instance, players on the Philadelphia Phillies, knowing that Robinson had received death threats, held their bats up as if they were guns and pointed them at him.

Maybe- just maybe, of course- Obama as president has faced similar obstacles.   Apparently, Will did not notice a politically slick politician from Georgia recently say, however misleadingly

You have to wonder what he’s doing.  I’m assuming that there’s some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don’t understand. Whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play basketball for a while or watch ESPN, I mean, I don’t quite know what his rhythm is, but this is a guy that is a brilliant performer as an orator, who may very well get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, he happens to be a partial, part-time president.

Yes, we (but not some columnists) get it, Newt.   The black fellow plays basketball (don't they all?) and has "some rhythm," though it is hard to determine "what his rhythm is."   Gingrich forgot to say he "dances around issues," though he remembered in January to call Obama "the most effective food stamp president in history."    He has labeled as "a partial, part-time president" (shiftless and lazy?) a chief executive who vacations far less than his immediate predecessor and whom The New York Times in May reported

insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

George Will gets to have it both ways.    Without any evidence, he infers that Obama's hopes hinge on white guilt because voters are "especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president" and won't want to admit "it made a mistake in choosing him."   He calls on voters to reject his candidacy, like the Indians who "felt free to fire (Frank) Robinson," which "showed that another racial barrier had fallen."

Yet, October 3, 1974 also had been "a significant date in the nation's civil rights progress" because a black man was hired as a manager.   In the same manner, according to Will, America demonstrated it was not racist (though unwise, disregarding "its head") when it "hired" Barack Obama; it will prove "an even more important milestone of progress" when it fires him.   Convenient.

Will believes (or pretends to believe) that the U.S.A. struck a note for racial progress when a black was chosen as President.   Voters in Democratic caucuses and primaries arguably (full disclosure: I voted for Clinton) did so when it made a one-term Democratic Senator the nominee of the party over a heavily-favored spouse of an ex-President popular with the party's voters and establishment.  In the general election, however, the nominee faced a bad presidential, and even worse vice-presidential, candidate in an atmosphere in which Charles Manson, if released from prison, could have run a strong race against a Republican.   The GOP label was toxic at the time because any connection with the incumbent, George W. Bush, was deadly.  (Four years later, it took Mr. Bush's brother even to mention his name at the party's convention, and that was done somewhat defensively.)

Being a baseball aficionado, Will might do well to acknowledge while the opposing club is not strong and his own clean-up hitter is mediocre, his team is lousy, and most people realize it.

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