The Boy in the Hood

The RNC’s latest drama of deflection — those unflappable steely-eyed conservatives always seem to be hurling themselves onto the fainting couch over something — was all about how debunking Condi’s spree of public lying was plain old racism. (See the extension for attributions and more extensive quotes in context.)

“If the Democrats want to slap around an African American woman, let them try.” – ex RNC head Rich Bond

“Congressman, do you believe, you’re a sophisticated guy, do you believe watching these hearings that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?” – Robert Novak

“Isn’t that just like a liberal? The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger — but the black chick is a dummy. Maybe even as dumb as Clarence Thomas. Perhaps someday liberals could map out the relative intelligence of various black government officials for us.” – stAnn Coulter

“Look, I’m going to answer the question. But first let me ask you something, Sean. And I’m serious about this. You know, if this were a Democrat administration and Condoleezza Rice were in it, as a black woman as she is, do you think all these assaults and attacks on Condoleezza Rice would be permitted by the Jesse Jacksons?” – Rush Limbaugh

“Perhaps Rice is a Valkyrie after all, but a newer model: beautiful, brown-eyed and dark-skinned. A carrion-eating raven feasting on the roadkill formerly known as the 9-11 commission. Horns of mead at the ready.” – Kathleen Parker

Is Condi a viable symbol of the “new” color-blind Republican party? Negro, please. I mean, Sadly, No! She’s the Preznit’s black chum, so to speak, useful as long as she puts the divinely-appointed Preznit’s election interests before the duties of her position, but one of the first to be tossed to the sharks if she doesn’t. (Look at the yo-yoing of Colin Powell. Good Negro when he was holding up that fake anthrax at the UN, but a Bad (Disposable) Negro when he was putting the State Department’s (and the American people’s) concerns before the immediate spin needs of Commander Codpiece’s excellent Iraq adventure.)

The anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination passed several days ago with very little commentary in the mainstream media, just as Easter week processions in many countries around the world were starting up. The hooded costumes of penitents in Spain and many other countries are striking for their resemblance to a group famous for it’s distinctly unrepentant use of costume and cross.

Lower Middle: Ku Klux Clan;
Left, Upper Middle, Right: Easter Week Penitents

You don’t have to look very far to see the appalling cynicism of the Bush administration in their attempts to exploit African Americans for expedient photo-ops. Whether it’s trying to engage the Black Congressional Caucus for an eleventh hour electioneering photo op after ignoring them all administration long, or compiling a flip-book of compassionate conservatism that’s a running racial joke, nowhere is his antebellum mentality more evident than in this astonishing media moment. But for a truly chilling insight into Bush’s and the GOP’s attitude towards racism, have a look at how the Preznit has commemorated — or rather, disgraced — the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK observances, 2002: Upon being presented with a portrait of Dr. King by Mrs. King, the President said, “Well, thank you all very much for coming. Mrs. King, thanks for this beautiful portrait. I can’t wait to hang it. (01/21/02 WH transcript)

MLK observances, 2003: Bush tries to intervene in an important Michigan court case on affirmative action. At the same time, he uses Ebenezer Baptist Church as a photo-op backdrop to make the statement “There’s still prejudice holding people back. There’s still a school system that doesn’t elevate every child so they can learn. There’s still a need for us to hear the words of Martin Luther King to make sure the hope of America extends its reach into every neighborhood across this land.” (Here’s your bootlicking SCLM at work: the CNN headline was “Bush honors King”.)

MLK observances, 2004: When the MLK Day March Committee’s daylong observances complicated the Preznit’s last minute photo-op on MLK’s grave, the Secret Service “proposed locking them inside the church for the duration of Bush?s appearance.” … “[F]ar from having prepared the visit in consultation with the King Center or the King family, White House staff had simply contacted the Center and announced that Bush would be popping by to drop off a wreath while on his way to yet another two thousand dollar a plate fund-raiser.” Demonstrators converging on the scene before Bush’s arrival were placed behind a barricade of buses. The march, which included community leaders who knew and worked with Dr. King on civil actions like the Montgomery bus boycott, would have been at the site to honor King, regardless of Preznit Photo-op’s image needs. The Bush detail literally moved them to the back of the buses.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president?s visit was a way to pay tribute to ?Dr. King?s legacy, his vision and his lifetime of service. Earlier Thursday, in New Orleans, President Bush said the ?miracle of salvation? is the key to solving some of society?s most intractable problems as he sought increased support among black voters with a renewed push for his plan to let religious charities in on more federal spending. (01/15/04 MSNBC)

President Bush used a (01/17/04) recess appointment to grant U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering a spot on the federal appeals bench. (01/17/04 CNN). A perjurer and racist, Pickering gave light sentences to thugs who burned a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple, excusing it as just “a drunken prank“. (PFAW Fact Sheet)

Anyone serious about discussing racism beyond buzz phrases can see that the timing and tone of these events with MLK observances are no accident, but the kind of direct wink and a nod to God-fearing cross-burning hood-wearing bigots that Reagan continually employed during campaigns and while in office. It’s the kind of unapologetically racist fuck-you Bush used during his AWOL period, when part of his job on the Blount campaign was to “smear” the opposition by painting him as someone who’d ruin white schools by busing in black children.

Much has been made of Bush’s vaunted Moral Clarity?. Once the First Gut forms its impressions, it doesn’t need the guidance of a moral compass, or to be checked against reality with elitist crap like facts, disagreeable intel or even newspapers. Bush intentionally surrounds himself with sycophants who find creative ways to corroborate what the God-endorsed First Gut “feels” about complex situations. The ones who can no longer do so without becoming unethical or wilfully incompetent are termed “disloyal” and thrown to the fire-breathing BushCo attack machine. For all their concern about cultural decency, isn’t it remarkable that this morally perfected administration has such difficulty simply being decent to others? (I don’t mean understanding or, Heaven forfend, kind — just not behaving like mindlessly vicious jerks.)

Any criticism or “disloyalty” to the First Gut, when taken outside the inner circle to threaten the sacred Presidential Image, mobilizes every skill and resource the administration can muster faster than news of, say, impending terrorist attacks. (Contrast how BushCo flopped around like uncoordinated buffoons for months when it was a mere case of terror warnings, but coalesced into an efficient well-oiled machine when Job One was tearing down rogue critics like Paul O’Neill, Joseph Wilson or Richard Clarke, among others.) Maintaining image is something they know and respect. Objectively weighing intelligence … not so much.

The Preznit’s vaunted Moral Clarity? is largely smoke and mirrors. It’s the work of more resources applied towards image than real leadership and governance, exaggerated by an echo chamber that attaches heroism to distinctly unheroic qualities: disengagement, lack of objective analysis, an almost comical inability to accept responsibility or be accountable for his and their actions, and a con man’s slippery avoidance of unscripted, unchoreographed public appearances.

As Easter Week coincides with many other traditions’ time of moral reckoning and this being Good Friday, billions the world over do recalibrate their moral compasses by weighing their shortcomings and repenting.

Except George.

He doesn’t apologize for stuff because Moral Clarity? means never having to say you’re sorry. If you support him, you don’t have to apologize either. Republican politicians or pundits bust their buttons with pride when the Preznit “doesn’t back down”, sticks to a reckless self-defeating course, or “isn’t apologizing”, especially when insulting the UN or dealing with those effete Frenchies. Despite badly needing international help in Iraq and on his own War on Terror and Stuff, the more shabbily he treated real allies who doubted The Word of George — sorry, Eritrea but I’m thinking outside the fig leaf — the more his boorish base liked it. The mainstream media dutifully cooperates with maintaining this horrifying approach to complex issues. The President isn’t backing down … the President isn’t apologizing … the President is resolute … The President is sticking to his guns. (Note how the First Flip Flopper’s recent slink back to France and the UN for desperately needed help in Iraq was paralleled by the same slinking motion of the story onto the media radar. I didn’t see any banner headlines screaming phrases like Massive Prezzie Flip Flop on U.N.-France Aid Shocks Media, Nation, World!)

Today, as the hooded penitents make the last leg of their journey to atonement, we remember that even Christ atoned for his sins. Jesus — a model Christian, a good observant Jew, a revered prophet to Muslims, an earthbound Bodhisatva to Buddhists and Hindus, Paganity’s sacrificial lamb — faced his moral struggles, as we all do in the material world, as all divine beings made flesh do in the material world.

It’s the continual struggle between the needs of the flesh and the sublime pull of spirit required in every religious tradition. In religious Christian language, it’s passion, which means “suffering” or more specifically, struggle (just as compassion means to suffer/struggle along with another), or crusade, literally, to bear the cross. Muslims call the daily struggle to be a better person jihad. In German, the word is kampf, now inextricably associated with a doctrine devoid of the constant weighing and recalibration that should accompany the daily, very human struggle even divinely inspired beings endure to be better humans (never mind full-fledged deities.) Jesus never considered himself so perfected — so possessed of Moral Clarity? — to stone a sinner, and his last moment of life on earth was one of doubt and weighing. He suffered, struggled, atoned and was redeemed.

Only God-appointed Preznits and his fervent disciples never apologize, never recalibrate, never examine their actions in the light of new facts and evolving wisdom. That would be backing down or worse, look like backing down. Wishy washy. Murky. Simply being Morally Clear excuses whatever wrong they engage in, whether it’s lying, extortion, bribery, stealing their opponents’ private correspondence, covering up wrongdoing and vitally needed health information, and inflicting massive death and chaos on people who posed no threat.

LARRY KING: It is black and white?
KAREN HUGHES: I think it is black and white, Larry, and I think for me, where I come down, I think the fundamental difference is, we value every life. And the terrorists value none, not even their own. We are a nation founded on the belief that every individual was endowed by our creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We believe in the dignity and the worth and the value of every life. And we’ve acted that way around the world. (04/07/04 CNN/King)

[Tucker Carlson describes Team Bush’s reaction on the campaign trail upon discovering that Carlson had precisely quoted Candidate Bush uttering a profanity.] It was very, very hostile. The reaction was: You betrayed us. Well, I was never there as a partisan to begin with. Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she’d heard — that I watched her hear — she in fact had never heard, and she’d never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane. I’ve obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness. (09/13/03 Salon/Carlson)

It’s no accident that those who shirk the largely unromantic but deeply necessary daily struggle simply to be good are so attracted to the purely material, martial, exaggerated “struggle” — armed Crusade or Jihad — to inflict their Armaggedons on “sinners” and “infidels” without apology. They don’t have to atone, you see, because they’ve achieved the kind of superior spiritual development that not even deities made flesh felt they achieved with such finality during their time on earth. Look at how pissed off BushCo and Bill Frist were over Richard Clarke’s simple apology to the 911 families. Bluster bluster … how dare the man apologize when we’re not finished handing down our judgment! (Hey Bill, how’s that perjury investigation coming?)

It’s this rigid attachment to unexamined action that binds Bush more closely to the unapologetic hoods in the KKK than to the similarly hooded penitents today, a day so near the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. When King spoke in religious language it resonated even for people outside his specific religion because he spoke not only from his heart but his soul.

Our God-appointed Misleader tries to cobble otherwise inspiring words onto missions no loftier than expanding his war chest or getting off a good soundbite against an opportune backdrop like Dr. King’s grave. If Bush has any kind of aura, it’s the cold fluorescence of strategically placed teevee lighting rather than the glow emitted by inspired and inspiring creatures like Dr. King, a blazing beacon of hope even in grainy, sloppy, unchoreographed footage.

Dr. King was a great man and a great soul — a Bodhisatva like Mohandas Gandhi and others who, in their time, led millions out of bondage, and long past our lifetimes, will shine for millions more. The certainty of truly great leaders was in having a sense of mission inextricable from their personal commitment to the everyday struggle of simply being good men first. It’s the same struggle Jesus endured even on the last day of his earthly life. It’s the struggle simply decent people of every culture and creed go through in the daily choices they make.

It’s the struggle a flickering hero like GW Bush avoids at all costs now, just as his whole life is a tale of accountability avoided, even to himself.

(Expanded quotes and attributions in the extension.)

“The woman oozes expertise and sincerity,” said former Republican National chairman Rich Bond. “I’m glad the White House came around to allow her to say publicly what she’s already told the commission privately. The old adage is, ‘Get it out, get it out, get it out.’ If the Democrats want to slap around an African American woman, let them try.” (04/04/04 Newsday) [a Blair catch]


Comments: 12


About that Coulter quote: “Isn’t that just like a liberal? The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger — but the black chick is a dummy. Maybe even as dumb as Clarence Thomas. Perhaps someday liberals could map out the relative intelligence of various black government officials for us.”

Let me get this straight. The argument is that liberals only call black people in the adminsitration dumb? iand the evidence is that no one calls GEORGE BUSH dumb??? Hello? We’ve been calling that honkey stupid every day since we met him.

For that matter, who ever said that Powell was stupid? Losing all his credibility, yes, but not stupid.


Well said.

It’s bodhisattva with two t’s, however.


Great piece, Peanut.

I think the fundamental difference is, we value every life.

Oh, please. Bush guts environmental regulations, which will inevitably result in many deaths (I don’t have the cite handy, but a federal court of appeals overturned a change to the Clean Air Act that the EPA, which wanted the change, estimated would lead to IIRC 19,000 deaths). He loves the death penalty, and is not at all concerned with making sure that those who receive it are actually guilty (in Texas, he vetoed a bill that would have established state public defenders’ offices, instead continuing the practice of having the judge in each case appoint a defense attorney for an indigent defendant — typically someone who won’t put up much a fight, sleeps during the trial, etc. (Texas actually argued before the Supreme Court that it was constitutional to execute a guy whose defense attorney had slept through much of the trial); Bush never overturned a death sentence, and gave petitions for executive clemency a very cursory review). I’ve seen nothing to indicate that he feels anything for the 10,000+ Iraqis he’s killed or the 650+ American soldiers he’s killed in his pointless war in Iraq. He has not attended a single funeral for any of those soldiers. How can the son of a bitch sleep at night?


wow, that was a such a thoughtful piece for this day and this weekend.

Value every life? Sadly, No!


This guy really has made the Presidency into a CEO job. No real responsiblities other than the nebulous “leadership” or “direction”. Can’t be blamed for any problems because he doesn’t have to implement solutions. “Yes men” around him to excuse any mistakes. Always on vacation. Always sucking at the company teet when he could pay his on way.

In the end, even if we retire this a-hole, he’ll have the “golden parachute” to live off for the rest of his life.

I think I’m gonna be sick.


Isn’t the just like you liberals to pick on a strong black woman like Omarosa Rice? Sheesh.


Wow! Peanut, you were all over that like white on rice.


Holy crap, that was awesome. And downright frightening. But still awesome.


Ohhh my, that was so good.

Thank you, Peanut.


Race cards — collect them all

Is criticizing Condi Rice racist? I’ll turn this one over to Peanut at Sadly, No. Peanut’s right. It’s ridiculous, above all for the fact that Republicans are acting like people on the left never criticize anybody in the White House…


Hi, there’s no doubt that overstating your case can be as ineffective as understating it. understated


In your free time, check out some helpful info about…


(comments are closed)