State of the Union, Meet The Press, and Face The Nation Review 7/21/13

State of the Union:

The Senator best known for his bad judgment is worlds ahead of most of his party on the issues of race and Stand Your Ground laws.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who once bitterly battled then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) for the White House and has made it his life’s mission to trip the President every time he can, praised President Obama’s Zimmerman verdict speech. On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning, McCain then urged states to look at the Stand Your Ground laws.

That’s two times McCain agreed with President Obama, in just a few moments, from “very impressive” speech to calling for a review of “very controversial” Stand Your Ground laws. What gives? Obama has also called for a review of the Stand Your Ground laws that ALEC and the NRA have installed in various states, mostly courtesy of the Republican party’s puppets.

McCain did that reflexive thing of bringing up Detroit when discussing blacks in America, which is annoying to anyone who understands Detroit and its surrounding communities. Because of Republican ideology, Detroit paid Governor Snyder’s appointed Emergency Manager a quarter of a million dollars to file for bankruptcy, as Detroiter Black Liberal Boomer pointed out for Politicus earlier this week – an action that a judge has now rebuffed, so that’s a lot of money down the drain.

It would be more appropriate to use Detroit as a symbol of Republican ideology gone wrong, especially since as Deborah Foster pointed out today, “The State of Michigan has also been withholding funds that it is supposed to give Detroit through revenue-sharing, restricting their access even further to necessary resources.”

But McCain managed to make a good point about economic disparity between black youths and non-black youths. (Detroit did not file for bankruptcy because poor black people live there; Detroit filed for bankruptcy because just like Flint, Michigan – at one time, known as the home to poor whites – it lost its industries.)

McCain explained that old prejudices die hard, especially in hard economic times (and when McCain’s party is pointing their fingers at the brown skinned Other and blaming them for the hard economic times, which is just another reason I take issue with equating Detroit the city with American blacks).

McCain cited the military and Obama’s presidency as sign of progress, “I think the good news is if you look at the military, if you look at the fact that we have a President who is the first African American president in history, we have made significant progress.”

But the Senator noted it was not enough, and he elaborated on President Obama’s speech, “What I got out of the President’s statement, which I thought was very impressive, is that we have more conversation in America. I as an elected official, I need to talk to more of my Hispanic organizations in my state, I need to talk to more African Americans, I need Americans to talk to their friends and neighbors, not just those on their block or in their circle of friends.”

While it might just seem that McCain is being an odd bird bucking his party’s get out the vote racism, these are old wounds for McCain. It was during the 2000 South Carolina primary that McCain’s own party used the race of one of his daughters against him, much as his 2008 running mate used Obama’s race against him. McCain may be a lot of things, and he stayed silent way too long in the 2008 Sarah Palin race of hate, but he is not a person who doesn’t understand the pain inflicted by racism.

The Senator proved that by saying he needs to talk to more Hispanics and African Americans. Yes, elected officials need to hear from all kinds of people, since they represent all kinds of people. It is wrong for old rich white men to lock themselves away from the masses in order to make decisions about the lives of the masses.

McCain said it might be time for states to review Stand Your Ground laws, when asked by Candy Crowley about our justice system’s history. “I can also see that stand your ground law may be something that needs to be reviewed by the Florida legislature or any other legislature that has passed such legislation… I’m confident that the members of the Arizona legislature will and – because it is a very controversial legislation.”

Economic disparity is a function and result of racism, and it’s then used to justify racism. Laws like Stand Your Ground are clearly applied differently based on skin color, and our court system’s prejudice against black people is also a matter of evidence. It’s impossible to claim that things are fixed, that racism is over, given these facts.

Any real conversation about racism in this country must include an honest discussion about the impact of slavery, and the millions murdered as a direct result of the not too distant slave trade.

John McCain left his party’s ugly Southern strategy in the dust as he took a stand for humanity today. (He also dissed Liz Cheney, backing Sen. Mike Enzi instead.) This was a glimpse of that old John McCain the media keeps telling us about, but one we rarely see. Instead of agreeing with his party’s ugly suggestions that Obama is the “racist-in Chief” and that the only racism that’s a problem is the racism aimed at whites, McCain agreed with the President and urged Americans to follow the President’s lead and talk to each other. No, it won’t fix the problem, but it’s a step forward.

If John McCain can overcome his bitter loss to Obama enough to say this, “I think the president very appropriately highlighted a lot of that yesterday, as only a president of the United States can,” then maybe there’s hope after all.

Meet The Press

Wow. This is a ball of crazy. A mostly white panel gets together to discuss the first black president’s comments on race and things get awkward. Poor David Gregory got upset when David Brooks wouldn’t hate on Obama’s speech enough, so he had to add in the “conservative” point of view, since Brooks is… well, conservative.

While New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks made some great points on Meet the Press today about race, in order to get there, he tripped on his whiteness, but he wasn’t enough of a hater to serve as the ‘conservative’ opinion. He was there ostensibly as an expert on the President, having written a biography on Obama.

Brooks said of Obama that his speech was beautiful, but it’s important to note that he’s all about race, “It seemed superficially unimportant, but it’s important to remember race is his first subject, as it would be if you had a black father and a white mother. He brings to all the other issues… But it’s important to remember, race is how he started.”

Gregory had to interject that conservatives would disagree, because if the conservative panelist won’t hate enough to fairly represent the party, well, we can count on Gregory to round it out. Conservatives don’t think the President should have been speaking on the matter of race at this time. Shocking.

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah. It seemed superficially unimportant, but it’s important to remember race is his first subject, as it would be if you had a black father and a white mother. He brings to all the other issues, the way he framed race and the way he started thinking about race, his tendency to do on the one hand, on the other, his desire to reconcile opposites, his ability to see different points of view, all the stuff we’ve seen him come to apply to every other issue, it started with race.

I thought this speech was one of the highlights, I thought it was a symphony of indignation, professionalism, executive responsibility, personal feeling. It had all these different things woven together. I thought beautifully. But it’s important to remember, race is how he started.

DAVID GREGORY: Again, I come back because I want to make sure to represent that other side as well. Some conservatives have said, look, this was the wrong moment to inject race into the trial, their view, and for the president to speak out in this way.

(Good thing Gregory is representing the other side, what with a conservative just having spoken – just because Brooks wasn’t frothing at the mouth doesn’t mean the conservative point of view hasn’t been heard. Or does it.)

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah. I guess I would disagree with him. I think if the young man had been a white kid and the older guy had been a black guy, it would be a different story. And the president said that. And I think that happens to be true.

And that concludes our snippet of the mostly white panel discussing Obama’s comments on race.

It’s true that David has been a fan of the President, once praising then Senator Obama as smarter than him regarding political philosophy and policy: “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

But does Gregory really need to go provide yet more conservative points of view, simply because Brooks’ conservative point of view isn’t hostile enough to qualify? What he’s admitting is that it’s not conservative unless it is against this President.

Gregory wants to make sure he gives weight to the white conservatives who don’t think this black President should have spoken about his own experience with race at this time, because that’s just what the country needs right now: White people deciding when the black President can discuss his experiences.

Should we take a poll about when they would be happy for a black president to speak about his experiences? Maybe we can take a poll on if we should ever let a black president speak without permission. I mean, gosh, he might say something that a white conservative won’t like, and if Tucker Carlson’s gang of thugs aren’t there to shout him down, and Republicans aren’t there to shout “YOU LIE!”, well, he might get uppity.

No one ever asked whether George W Bush should be discussing his white childhood experiences. His experiences were not considered offensive. And this is indicative of the problem.

It should surprise no one that the first black President would need to avoid issues of race, so that Americans who were frightened off of him by a desperate Republican Party’s southern strategy might be able to relax a bit.

Obama is no more all about race than a white person is all about race.

Obama is a thinker. He’s a strategist. He’s often the smartest person in the room, and he didn’t get there by focusing on race. He got there by transcending other people’s limited ideas about race.

PBS host Tavis Smiley embarrassed himself by criticizing the president’s Trayvon Martin remarks for the singular purpose of bashing Barack Obama.

If your heard of Smiley’s remarks, you can see why he embarrassed himself. He never criticized what the president said about the death of Trayvon Martin. Instead, he pulled out his usual Obama bashing remarks. The president isn’t doing enough. The president is leading from behind. The president isn’t trying hard enough. Smiley’s main criticism of leading from behind came straight from the Republican Party.

theGrio knocked down Smiley’s main point that Obama was pushed into making his remarks, “An administration source on Friday told theGrio that the president watched the verdict, along with millions of Americans, last Saturday, and by Thursday, following intense conversations with members of his family, and with friends, Obama decided that he wanted to speak. The official told theGrio on background that Obama called a meeting of his senior staff late Thursday and told them he wanted to make a statement, but that he didn’t want to give a scripted speech, or even warn the press.” (Just like Republicans, Smiley is painting a picture of Obama that doesn’t really exist in order to portray himself as the hero.)

His other criticisms are the same old axes that he has been grinding for years against Obama. Smiley mentioned Johnson and Truman as political leaders on race, but what he didn’t mention was that those presidents could use their political position to either advance legislation or carry out executive action. Obama doesn’t have either of those options in this case.

Smiley wants Obama to be Martin Luther King, but Obama is the president, not a civil rights leader. He has the biggest bully pulpits in the world, and he used it effectively on Friday.

Meet The Press booked Tavis Smiley because of his Kool-Aid tweet in response to the president’s remarks on Trayvon Martin. Smiley seems to have a personal grudge against Obama, and his criticisms revealed the weakness of his argument. There are legitimate reasons to criticize President Obama. For instance, it can be argued that he hasn’t said enough on the issues of poverty and African-American unemployment but, bashing him for the sake of getting on national television was an embarrassment to the entire discussion of race in this country.

Face The Nation:

Speaker John Boehner tried to justify the House Republicans’ lousy record of not passing legislation by claiming that American people want a Congress that repeals laws instead of passing them.

Speaker Boehner said that the House is reflecting the will of the American people, “I talked about this the day I was sworn into speaker. That I considered my job was to open up the process, let members participate. Yeah, I’ve got certain things that I’d like to see accomplished. But this is not going to be about me. I said it the opening day. And it’s never going to be about me. It’s what’s in the best interest of the country. If we’re listening to the American people and we’re following their will, our House will work just fine.”

Boehner was asked how he felt about presiding over one of the least productive, and least popular Congresses in history. The Speaker of the House answered, “Well, Bob, we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don’t do commemorative bills on the floor. We don’t do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We’re in a divided government. We’re fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don’t like this mess.”

According to Boehner, the House is reflecting the will of the American people by spending much of their time trying to repeal Obamacare. The problem with Boehner’s premise is that it isn’t true. Recent polling has shown that 49% of Republicans don’t think their party is doing enough to compromise with President Obama. Overall, 68% of Americans believe that Republicans aren’t doing enough to compromise with the president. The American people want compromise, because they want to see legislation passed.

John Boehner was wrong. The American people don’t want a Congress that repeals laws. They want a Congress that passes more laws. Boehner can’t defend his abysmal record of passing only 15 bills in the first six months of the year, so he turned his party’s obstruction into a virtue. The funny thing about Boehner’s repealing laws statement is that House Republicans have spent 15% of their time trying and failing to repeal Obamacare, so by Boehner’s own metric House Republicans have failed miserably because Obamacare is still the law of the land.

House Republicans have failed to pass new laws. They have failed to repeal old laws. House Republicans have just plain failed. No matter how you cut it, John Boehner has been a miserable failure as the Speaker of the House.

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