It happened at the Democratic Convention in 2008, first when then candidate Obama's moment of manufactured interaction with a real American family was upstaged on stage by his youngest daughter as a live broacast of the encounter was shown to conventioneers while the rest of the Obama family stood onstage next to the big screen, following Michelle Obama's speech. Barack Obama watched the speech in the home of the typical family and his daughters hadn't seen him until he appeared on the video. His prepared spontaneity was completely spoiled by a small child whose excited outbursts upon seeing her absent father kept interrupting his attempt to appear warm and caring.
Well, it happened again. Only this time, instead of everyone's attention being focused on an adorable little girl, the country and the media focused on an amazing woman whose rushed firing by the Obama administration overshadowed the passage of a financial reform bill and Senate approval of Obama's second pick for the Supreme Court, as well as Congress finally extending unemployment benefits.
Given Shirley Sherrod's courageous overcoming of her own father's murder by a white man who was likely a member of the Klan to help save the farm of a white man acting superior while asking for her help, she should be offered more than just reinstatement in the USDA. She should be offered a position in the Obama administration as Minister of Racial Reconciliation. Her story is so human and so like that of many caught up in the hurtful memories and complexities of race relations in this country, she's a natural ambassador for the cause of actually moving past the pain toward healing.
I'm sure she will find a means of spreading her message of forgiveness and I'm equally sure it won't be as a representative of the Obama administration. Why not? She stole his thunder during a week when he made major accomplishments that became "in other news" afterthoughts in the wake of the recrimination against Sherrod, hastily followed by her firing and just as hastily followed by revelation that this woman deserves our respect, not our contempt. Despite Sherrod being told that her firing was ordered from the White House, the President absolved himself
from all responsibility and blamed the director of the USDA for acting hastily.
I believe the order to fire Sherrod came from a White House in panic mode ready to destroy an African-American woman's reputation and life without any further investigation or thought. I also believe the response would have been different had Sherrod been white. Although the anniversary of the President's calling the action of police arresting an African-American professor stupid was also this week, the Sherrod matter was one this administration wanted dispensed of ASAP. It was a
gnat that needed to be swatted out of the way, but that gnat turned out to be a wasp whose sting was sharper than anyone could have anticipated.