Friday, January 11, 2013

Affirmative Action Joe

Yes, that's right:  Joe Scarborough is an a supporter of, almost an activist for, affirmative action.  That Joe Scarborough.

In one of the best descriptions of a squabble (video from The Young Turks) he had with Mika Brzezkinsi on Thursday's Morning Joe ("powered by Starbucks" follows as the tag line and now you're in on the joke), Mediaite reports

The Morning Joe family got heated and a bit awkward this morning during a discussion about the lack of diversity in President Obama‘s inner circle. As Joe Scarborough pointed to the lack of outrage and the Republican/Democrat double standard,Mika Brzezinski vehemently disagreed — and told him he was being “chauvinistic.” Scarborough… didn’t take it well. At one point literally snapping his fingers at his co-host.

The issue of diversity took up the entire segment, but started to grow contentious when the BBC’s Katty Kay sought to downplay the lack of diversity in Obama’s cabinet while noting that Mitt Romney‘s “binders full of women” comment resonated because it reinforced the “1950s” attitude some perceived him having toward women.

“This is what’s wrong with political reporting,” Scarborough charged. The left took a “faux pas” and blew it up — but in Obama’s case, they’re talking about “something that matters.” Actual cabinet positions. That led to some back-and-forth between the two, who plainly disagreed.

As the segment went on, Brzezinski noted that Susan Rice could have been another woman in Obama’s cabinet had Republicans not “routed” her out. “Talk about old guys being completely chauvinistic jerks,” she remarked, as Scarborough noted David Axelrod‘s assertion that Rice hadn’t been considered for the Secretary of State position. Brzezinski countered that the president’s policies speak to his commitment to women’s issues.

Still, the show went on… until Scarborough’s joking around proved to be too much for Brzezinski who told him, “You’re being chauvinistic right now.” She can make personal attacks, Scarborough retorted, but “you’ve got a president you worship on this show every day.” Yet she “savaged” Romney. Had the president been Republican, she’d have been upset about the issue, he argued.

“You really — knowing me and seeing me work around here for five years — you want to call me a chauvinist on television?” Scarborough asked, with Brzezinski replying that she wasn’t calling him that.

“I said the way you’re acting is chauvinistic,” she responded, “especially the way you were handling this conversation. It’s not funny.”

“Do I act like a chauvinist in Congress, the way I ran my office there, the way run my office here? I am a chauvinist?” Scarborough repeatedly pressed, as they argued and talked over each other. “Read your own book!”

“You can’t throw around attacks like that,” he said, “because you’re embarrassed about what Barack Obama’s doing.”

Brzezinski's use of the term "chauvinistic" is unfortunate because "chauvinism" typically and traditionally applies to an exaggerated pride in nation; the common synonym is jingoistic.   Rather, Mika was accusing Scarborough of male chauvinism which anyone who watches the program will realize is not out of character for him.   Brzezinski's later response to the dust-up inadvertently bolstered her claim, when she meekly stated (emphasis mine) "I apologize.  But just for the record, you are NOT a chauvinist. I apologize... Your entire career," she said, "backs up that you are not a chauvinist."   In the main segment, Brzezinski had maintained the importance of "opening the doors to women" and that he "has been an incredible champion of this."  Quite right, M.B.: his support has not been credible.

To Brzezinski's credit, she resisted offering to bring the show's host his dinner and slippers.   And that would be the show's host, not co-host.   Learning of Scarborough's salary in 2008, she demanded a raise and was amply rewarded-  with a boost to half Joe's pay, consistent with her subservience to the former Florida congressman.

I have no idea what Brzezinski was referring to in Scarborough's "career" which proves he is not a "chauvinist."   Brzezinski was, rightly, offended when Scarborough ridiculed President Obama's support for the Lilly Ledbetter Act while defending Mitt Romney's reference to "binders full of women."

Scarborough implies that he couldn't possibly be a male chauvinist or unfair to women in any way because he supports (as Mika confirms) putting into high-profile positions a few well-known women.  But karoli of Crooks and Liars, otherwise defending Brzezinski, nails it when she remarks

I think the whole "more women in the Cabinet" idea is concern trolling on MSNBC's part right now anyway. It isn't as if this President doesn't have a strong record of putting women in high places. Ahem, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Kathleen Sibelius, and Hilda Solis, anyone? Please.

There's no question there's a pipeline problem, as panelists on Alex Wagner's show pointed out this morning. Speaking strictly for me, I'll take the most qualified candidate regardless of gender, sexual preference, or skin color. Shoot, they could dye their hair purple for all I care if they're qualified.

Alas, the approach of the mainstream of America's right-wing party reflects Scarborough's approach.  Republicans have become concerned since Mitt Romney was buried by Barack Obama amid an overwhelming rejection of the GOP by hispanics.  Even before the election, however, the party had decided that it could attract greater support among minorities not by changing its ideological bent but by, literally, changing the face of the party.   Last August, The Tennessean found

The GOP will try to showcase its diversity at this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., an effort cynics may call window dressing but that some Republicans hope signals greater strides in the future.

The effort will run throughout the week, and while the schedule has been scrambled by Tropical Storm Isaac, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, who as a Democrat gave the introduction for President Barack Obama at that party’s convention four years ago, are all scheduled to give prime-time addresses.

Although the party is still overwhelmingly white, Republicans hope to demonstrate a widening tent in which racial and ethnic differences have taken a back seat to shared conservative ideology.

The prominence of African-American, Asian-American and Latino speakers is unlikely to persuade many minority voters to switch allegiance from the Democratic Party in the short term, say political observers and even some Republicans. But by putting diversity front and center throughout the convention, Republicans can signal to white independents that their differences with Democrats are not racially motivated.

It's affirmative action Republican-style, a message approved by Joe Scarborough, powered by the corporate elite:  put minorities front and center, declare yourself an open tent, and change nothing.

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