Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Officials Right to Damp Down Muslim Terrorism Fear in Boston Marathon Bombing


Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama’s first official statement on the Boston Marathon bombing couldn’t have been plainer on this point: “We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.” Yet all it took was an isolated and scantily detailed report that Boston Police were questioning a young Saudi national to set off the standard rush to judgment finger point by some at Muslim terrorists. The Saudi national as it turned out is here on a legal visa and had no criminal record. But that didn’t stop some Muslim advocacy groups from quickly issuing statements condemning the attack as “cowardly.” This was both defense and precaution. One that Muslim groups feel is mandatory given the predictable speculation that they are the culprits in any violence virtually anywhere in the world that’s labeled “terrorist.”  

The good thing is that government officials and many in the media have learned the lessons of the past and that’s to pause, take a breath, and wait until more is known about why an attack happened, and who the likely perpetrator(s) are. This spares officials and the media the ultimate embarrassment of pointing fingers in a direction that often prove wildly in the wrong direction.

Obama applied the wait and see approach to a heinous act nearly four years in the immediate aftermath of the Ft. Hood, Texas bloodbath. The pack of shrill rightist bloggers and talk radio chatterers jumped all over the shooting of several military personnel at the military base and gleefully fanned anti-Muslim passions. It didn’t take much to get the hate juices flowing. A legion of writers on web sites spewed the ritual anti-Muslim slurs, profanities, and insults at the alleged shooter Major Nidal Hasan and by extension all Muslims.

Obama quickly admonished the public not to rush to judgment about the shooting and the shooter. Obama took a page from then President’s Clinton and Bush’s playbook when mob hysteria was building after the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1996 and the 9/11 attacks. Clinton and Bush cautioned the public not to finger point Muslims for the attacks.

The Oklahoma City bombing was the handiwork of Timothy McVeigh, a loose screw, red blooded American fanatic. The 9/11 attackers were mostly Saudi nationals. Yet, that still didn’t stop the murmurs, and finger pointing at and bashing of all Muslims.

That’s no surprise. American Muslims have been the repeated targets of verbal digs, physical assaults, and profiling. They are just too inviting a scapegoat for the fears and frustrations many Americans have had over two failed and flawed wars, a stagnant Middle East peace process, and even more frightening to many, the increasing presence of more and more Muslims in their neighborhoods, schools, and work places, especially when wearing Muslim attire.

Beyond the need for caution and just plain good sense in making public or official pronouncements on who committed a heinous act of violence and the motive behind it, there’s also the sobering reality that much of the recent mass violence in the country has nothing to do with alleged crazed, vengeful Muslim terrorists. It’s been home grown and the perpetrators have been young, loose screwed, gun nuts. Or, they have been right wing, racist loons that have a beef against a judge or a federal official. This has tragically awoken millions of Americans to the grim reality that mass terror can be inflicted just as easily, maybe even easier, by the withdrawn, delusional kid, next door as a foreigner sneaking into the country bent on mayhem and murder.

This also should not surprise when we consider that the US has poured a king’s ransom during the past decade into foreign and homeland security, surveillance, monitoring, and arrests, and detention of countless individuals with known or suspected terrorist group connections. Government officials periodically note with pride that the money is not a total waste since there have been no known successful terrorist attacks that could be positively traced back to a Muslim terror group since  9/11 on US soil. But this doesn’t mean that an attack couldn’t happen despite mountainous spending to stop it and world class, state of the art security measures.

The Boston Marathon bombing could be as some officials cautiously said the work of a foreign or a domestic terror group or even a lone terrorist, or crackpot. This much is known. Police and government officials don’t know anything yet. And they have been wise not to do or say anything that will fan anti-Muslim hysteria. And that’s a very good thing.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson




Sunday, January 23, 2011

President Obama’s State of the Union Speech Already under Fire

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama’s second State of the Union Speech scheduled for Tuesday, January 25 is under fire before he has even uttered one word of it. This was predictable. The State of the Union speech is generally one of the most watched and listened to political speeches. It’s a President’s report card on the accomplishments, the present and future planned initiatives of his administration and his vision for the country. GOP and Democratic presidents are keenly aware that their Democratic and Republican opponents know that State of the Union Addresses boost the stature, prestige, and power of the presidency, and usually bump up the president’s approval rating by a point or two. They also know that the opposition’s response to the speech is feeble, pale, and little watched or counted by Americans. In some cases the opposition response can even backfire. That happened last year when GOP Louisiana governor Bobby Jindahl fumbled and bumbled through what most political observers deemed a mean-spirited, petty retort to Obama.

The history of the State of the Union speech underscores the power to shape policy and bolster the president’s image. President James Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln flatly called for the end of slavery in the rebellious states. This was the prelude to the Emancipation Proclamation he issued a year later. Woodrow Wilson warned of the dangers of impending war in 1913. Franklin Roosevelt outlined the famed Four Freedoms in 1941. Lyndon Johnson unveiled the outlines of his Great Society program to fight poverty in 1965. Bill Clinton unveiled his health care reform plan in 1993. George Bush in his State of the Union speeches in 2002 and 2003 prepped the nation for the Iraq invasion. Presidents quickly latched on to the media to give their State of the Union speech more exposure and political wallop. Calvin Coolidge gave the first radio broadcast in 1923. Truman gave the first televised broadcast in 1947.
The attacks on President Obama before he’s spoken have been partisan, familiar, and absurd. Absurd when GOP Georgia Rep Paul Broun with no inkling of what President Obama would actually say, told a radio caller that he would not sit next to a Democrat during the speech “when Obama spews his venom.” Broun reacted to the Washington DC policy think tank, Third Way’s proposal that Democrats and Republicans mix up their seating during the President’s address. GOP Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell took a different tact from Broun’s loony outburst. He jumped on reports that Obama will call for more increased federal spending on infrastructure, research, and for small business. McConnell blamed Obama’s supposed runaway federal spending for getting the country into the economic mess of the last two years. This of course belies and ignores the political and economic damage that the Bush’s administration’s giveaway to Big Business and the banks, and Wall Street’s push of the economy to near collapse did. But Obama’s renewed call for more strategic spending fits in with the public’s loud demand that the Obama administration refocus its time, talent and energy on jobs and the economy.

Obama has gotten that message, his stimulus measures in the tax cut extension, the high profile appointments of business friendly William Dailey as Chief of Staff, and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Wall Street insider Gene Sperling as key economic advisors, and talks on business and investment during the Chinese President’s state visit put business and the economy at the front of Obama’s front burner.
Obama critics have even reached back a year and picked apart his first State of the Union address and harangued him for allegedly lashing out at Republicans. Business Insider headlined its STOU piece with the question, “A Less Partisan State of the Union Speech?” It scolded Obama for his criticism of the Supreme Court for its conservative majority decision in Citizens United in 2010. The decision opened the floodgate for corporations to pour unlimited dollars into political campaigns with minimal checks and accountability. Major corporations and financial institutions wasted little time in doing that. They poured millions into the mid-term election campaigns. The bulk of money as Obama and the Democrats knew went to corporate friendly GOP candidates and incumbents. In singling out the Court for its politically lethal ruling, Obama did what other presidents have done and that’s use the State of the Union Speech to warn of the threat to Democracy of in this case a court ruling that threatened to turn elections into the exclusive preserve of the super rich.

The shrill warnings that President Obama will give a partisan State of the Union speech makes even less sense this year. Polls show that Americans applaud the president for his even handed, Tucson speech, his willingness to compromise with the GOP in its demand to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, and that Americans overwhelmingly want the Obama administration and Congress to end the rancor and work together on the problems and issues. Expect President Obama to say that on Tuesday.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

More Say they Like Bush than Obama Grates to No End

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The CNN poll in October that found that almost as many people said they liked George W. Bush as President Obama seemed like it was either a case of some drunk counting the numbers, or a headline grabbing ploy by CNN on a slow news day. The poll seemed to add even more insult to absurdity when it found that a statistically insignificant 2 percent said that Bush was a worse president than Obama. A year earlier Obama had more than a 20 percent edge over Bush in the number that ranked him a far better president than Bush. But now Gallup has weighed in with its poll on Bush’s alleged renewed popularity. It went even than the earlier poll and found that Bush has edged past Obama by one percentage point as the better ranked president. Gallup just crunches the numbers and doesn’t really go to deep into why the supposed stunning turnaround in Bush’s popularity other than to chalk it up to the passage of time, short memories, a little historical revisionism, and of course, Bush’s well orchestrated and scripted book tour filled with adulatory, and puff ball interviews.
That’s much too simple. It’s true that the passage of time does dim memories and presidents that left office with abominable ratings (Truman) or were driven from office in public disgrace (Nixon), or suffered a landslide loss (Carter) get cut some slack with age, and are benevolently viewed as harmless, even wizened elder statesman. With the passage of time, historians pick and highlight the favorable things that low rated presidents did. In Truman’s case, it was the Marshall Plan and his hanging tough against the Soviets during the early stages of the Cold War. In Nixon’s case it was his China thaw, and accepting the wind down of the Vietnam War. With Carter, he’s garnered admiration as a better president outside the White House than inside the White House with his thoughtful books, commentaries, and insights on foreign policy and his globetrotting peace keeping and humanitarian efforts.

But that took years, even decades before the public rehabilitation of former presidents. Bush is getting the historical pass barely two years out of office. The colossal giveaways to the corporate rich and Wall Street, a failed, flawed, and absolutely unnecessary war, a bungled Katrina response, off the chart sex, and corruption scandals within the GOP, a tanked economy, and a general clueless, governing incompetence that defied political belief have seemingly vanished from public and historical view faster than a Houdini disappearing act. The disappearance doesn’t totally explain why so many now pine for a return of Bush over Obama. Bush has rally done nothing to deserve this nostalgia, and history has certainly not absolved him, let alone vindicated him of, his colossal policy failures.
Bush gets the early pass in part because of the two year relentless, and structured GOP campaign of denigration, vilification, and assault on Obama’s policy initiatives and Obama personally. Its shock troops, the Tea Party horde, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and the endless pack of shrill, hatchet job rightside bloggers, websites, and talk show hacks have effectively painted a picture of an Obama as an alien, anti-American, a closet Muslim terrorist sympathizer, a socialist, communist, and an inveterate America basher and hater.

The other part is the confusion, frustration, and even anger at Obama for not selling the positive accomplishments that his administration has accomplished in the face of the GOP assault and the mess that Bush’s failures have littered his presidential path with. There’s also the anger at him from the throng of progressive and liberal Democrats for not hitting, and hitting back hard ala Truman and FDR at the GOP’s bullying, badgering and hectoring. The term that was once heard in only the faintest of whispers “cave” in in regards to his policy compromises with the GOP has now progressed to a roar. The latest being the compromise agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Even though his back was to the wall and there were pluses in the compromise—unemployment extension, social security tax cuts, and cuts for small business— the president will be endlessly reminded he broke his cornerstone campaign promise that he would not back the tax cut extension for the rich. That’s now ancient history.

Bush’s rehabilitation can be chalked up in part to the penchant to give lambasted presidents good marks when they are safely out of the White House and can do no more harm and in bigger part to the calculated assault on Obama. But the desire of so many to compare the man who was the architect of so many towering policy failures to Obama and then believe the worst of the worst about Obama still grates to no end.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on thehutchinsonreportnews.com And on Twitter www.twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stop the Rush to Judgment on Call for Clinton to Resign over WikiLeaks

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must explain what she meant when she allegedly signed the much railed at orders in April and July 2009 that allege that she ordered US diplomats to spy on UN officials and others. But that hasn’t stopped the rush to judgment in the calls for her resignation. It’s not just a premature call, it’s a silly call.
Yes, on the surface, it does look bad. The Secretary seeming to secretly order State Department officials to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans, of African leaders and to obtain passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer account numbers, and other data connected to diplomats. The Clinton bashers have leaped to conclude from this that she ran a giant spy network out of the State Department and used state department officials, American diplomats, and the usual suspects, the CIA, and other shadowy US backed foreign intelligence agencies to get the goods on diplomats, big and small.
There are three problems with this. The WikiLeaks cables are simply raw cables. There is absolutely no context, background, rationale, or even hard verification about the time and place given for when and even why Clinton or any other state department official asked for the information, not to mention what they hoped to do with it if they did indeed order systematic spying.

The U.S. has run well documented intelligence and counter-intelligence operations since the Cold War and has vast experience, state of the art technology, and well placed operatives to gather whatever information it needs on the actions and activities of friends and foes. It has never had a problem getting that information.
The second problem is that much of the information that Clinton allegedly hungered to get on UN diplomats was already public information and easily obtained in the endless meetings, conferences, discussions, and briefings, as well as the exchange of information that American friendly diplomats routinely share with the State Department. The information is shared through front and back door channels.
Clinton reiterated this point noting that official foreign policy is not set through diplomatic cables but at and within the White House. Clinton also added the obvious that she and other US diplomats routinely meet with and get information all the time from an array of sources, and the information, some of it sensitive, is given without the need for stockpiling DNA, fingerprints and Iris scans.

The biggest problem is the speed and fury in the call for Clinton’s head. The calls are not made because of high moral concern over a compromised State Department, a suddenly ineffectual Clinton to do her job, or the illegality, or at best embarrassing impropriety of what the cables purport to show she did. It’s about politics. Spying is institutionalized in US foreign policy and every other major nation’s policies and operations and every president and state department official has either authorized spy operations, snooping on allies, or flatly conducted illegal operations.
The Bush administration targeted any and everyone it considered a foe or potential foe, American citizen or not, with a systematic spy, monitoring and surveillance operation if suspected of being a potential terrorist. Organizations and individuals were slapped with so-called roving wiretaps (taps that can be placed on an individual or group anywhere, anytime) again based on the flimsiest evidence or suspicion. Bush officials stretched the term terrorist to include anyone that it said was a "terrorist combatant," where and how long that individual could be held (indefinitely) and how they should be legally disposed of (none of the standard constitutional protections).
There were no calls for Bush officials to resign and there were no demands that the State Department which certainly was privy under Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to the dubious actions tender their resignations. Or that they resign following the totally discredited doctored evidence of alleged WMD that provided the cover for the Bush administration to wage the Iraq war. Then Secretary of State Powell defended this phony evidence at the UN.

But on the strength of one of even a handful of unvetted memos from a dubious source Clinton has suddenly become hopelessly damaged goods and must go. The call is an empty one since Clinton hasn’t her say on what she had in mind, if indeed she even authorized the spying in the damaging way WikiLeaks documents purport to show. The jury is way out on that and is likely to stay that way.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson and on thehutchinsonreportnews.com


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

President Obama should turn a Deaf Ear to chatter About Not Running Again

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama should turn a deaf ear to the silly chatter about him not running again. He’s heard plenty of that in the weeks since the midterm election drubbing. Much of the chatter hasn’t come from the usual, hostile GOP and Tea Party suspects. They’ve flatly said their goal is to make Obama a failed, flawed, president and presidency. The stand down talk has come in a string of op-ed pieces, web and blog talk, speculation and guesswork, from some respected Democrat Party supporters and operatives. If Obama self designates himself a lame duck president now supposedly the GOP will call off the attack dogs, embrace cooperation and bipartisanship, and this will help promote national unity, allow him to make real headway on attaining his foreign policy goals on the Afghanistan war, North Korean nukes, the Middle-East, shepherd through an economic recovery, and spare packs of Democratic incumbents from losing their jobs in another tidal wave against him in 2012. None of this makes any sense.

The GOP declared civil war on Obama not last month, or last year, but the instant the final vote declared him the presidential winner in 2008. The GOP did not launch its take no prisoner’s war solely to drive him from office. The war would have been waged against Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat that won the presidency. The only thing different about Obama from them is he’s African-American and that opened the racial floodgate to hector, harass, and pillory, and demean him. The GOP war is about regaining power, control, political dominance, protecting its corporate and financial interests, its strict construction definition and enforcement of the laws, and more broadly imposing its philosophical view of how government should be run. The presidency is the grand prize that pulls the political, economic and philosophical threads on how government and power will be exercised together for the GOP.
Then there’s this question. If Obama can perform the political miracle that will bring political peace and unity, help the economy and improve foreign policy, by not running then why couldn’t he do it as president? The Obama one-term proponents give no real answer to this.

The other blurred crystal ball gazing foisted off as political reason for Obama to pack it in in 2012 is that America has plummeted into an era of scarcity, class gaping divisions between rich and poor, plunging living standards, military decline, and faces major challenges to its economic dominance from China, India, Brazil, Japan, and Western Europe. In this view America is going the way of the Roman and British Empires. This supposedly explains the anger and angst of the Tea Party at Obama. In short, he’s the fall guy for America’s sink. This is bunkum too.

The Tea Party’s relentless rage and hounding of Obama is not fueled by insecurity over where the tomorrow’s paycheck is coming from, whether America will get clocked in Afghanistan, what Brazil will or won’t do in the financial markets, or that the government can’t pay its bills because of massive hock to everyone. It’s fueled by race and shrewd media and political manipulation. America has been in the era of economic uncertainty, foreign competition, and military shrinkage, for the past two decades. If America’s domestic and foreign slide alone was a reason to tell a president not to run that president should have been W. Bush in 2004.

There were no loud cries, endless polls, and legions of pundits clucking to Bush to step down. And if he did, it would somehow reverse America’s slide, or at least let him off the hook for it. But that’s exactly what Obama is being told.

A little history is in order. He can’t win. He’s made a mess of the economy. His foreign policy initiatives have stalled. The inexperience that his opponents repeatedly warned would do him in once he got in the White House proved true. A Gallup poll backed up the rampant talk that the President should not run for re-election because of political failures and public disgust; nearly sixty percent of the respondents said that. The president a multitude said with absolute certainty was irreparably damaged political goods and shouldn’t run for reelection, and if he did couldn’t win is not named Obama. It was Ronald Reagan. The year was 1982. The economy was still mired in double digit unemployment and inflation, and his approval numbers were in the tank. But we know the rest. Reagan didn’t listen to the pundits the critics, or heed the poll numbers. He won a smash reelection victory in 1984. Presidents from Truman to Clinton have all heard the dreaded three words, “one-term president” said about them after popularity plunges, legislative reversals, or midterm party losses.

Two years is an eternity in politics. A recovering economy a hard, and decisive breakthrough in the war on terrorism, or GOP internal self-destruction, could turn the tide in the White House‘s favor. One more note, Obama’s popularity numbers at the same juncture of their presidency are higher than Truman, Reagan or Clinton’s, they won reelection and so can he.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Hutchinson Political Report: Why Carville Won’t Apologize to Obama for his Ball...

The Hutchinson Political Report: Why Carville Won’t Apologize to Obama for his Ball...: "Earl Ofari Hutchinson Not surprisingly the always dependable controversial quotable especially when it come to knocking President Obama D..."

Why Carville Won’t Apologize to Obama for his Balls Crack

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Not surprisingly the always dependable controversial quotable especially when it come to knocking President Obama Democratic strategist James Carville was petulant and defiant when asked whether he’d apologize for his latest Obama wisecrack. The dig was Carville’s supposedly play on an old joke when he cracked that Hillary Clinton should give Obama one of her balls.
Carville, of course, got several things out of this supposed joke. He got attention from the White House. No surprise there, it didn’t like the offensive crack. He got media attention which was guaranteed considering that Carville made it and the butt of the joke/attack was Obama. He got a virtual guarantee that he’ll continue to get a microphone and a camera stuck in front of him on a slow day when a chatter box TV or radio show needs a colorful quote about Obama.

But more disturbing, he got applause from some quarters for allegedly saying what needs to be said about Obama. The something that supposedly needs to be said is the relentless, drumbeat refrain from progressive and liberal Democrats that the president needs to take the velvet gloves off and show the iron fist to the GOP hit attackers. Obama has had to hear that demand, plea, pillory for months now.
The plea for a harder edge from the White House is certainly a legitimate one. The GOP, Tea Party, and the pack of rightwing shrill bloggers, web sites, talk show jocks are waging a second political civil war against Obama. They’ve made it clear their goal is one goal and that’s to do everything possible to tar him and his presidency, as flawed, failed and one term. If it take everything from sabotaging every initiative and piece of legislation which even remotely carries his fingerprint on it they’ll do it. If it means telling the president to shove his courtesy, protocol invitation to come to the White House to meet and greet and discuss ways to work together on issues where there is mutual agreement, they’ll do that too. The call for Obama to punch back will continue to resound loudly.
But there’s a right and a wrong way to say it, and a right venue in which to say it. An off color alleged joke that doesn’t sound much like a joke from a professional quipster is hardly the right way to get a legitimate criticism across. Carville knew this and knew that he would be asked to apologize. It was a foregone conclusion that he wouldn’t.
I say forgone because Carville’s offensive, and demeaning crack fits into a by now well-established pattern in packs of Obama critics say whatever comes to mind no matter how crass, crude, and thoughtless publicly about Obama. It could be a off color race tinged slur, a crack about his patriotism, citizenship, his trips, his looks, First Lady Michelle, his dog, or even an innocuous children’s book. It’s open season on this president, and anything no matter how off the wall goes, and will be quoted, cited, and whipped around the blogosphere as truth and fact.
The added guarantee that any silly and offensive inanity about Obama will make the rounds is that the ones that purse their lips to utter the dumb stuff are not the usual suspects in the GOP and Tea Party, Limbaugh, Beck and Sarah Palin, that’s expected. The ones taking the shots at him are supposedly Obama friends and allies. Carville remember is a Democrat’s Democrat. Others from billionaire Democratic Party bankroller George Soros and liberal funnyman Bill Maher have taken their shots at the president for one alleged failing or another, and as expected. It’s front page news when they do.
Obama can expect more blame, finger pointing, and cheap shots, to be take at and heaped on him. Carville was just the latest to open his mouth and rag on the president, but by no means the last. Expect no apologies from any of them during this very open season on the president and presidency.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Friday, November 19, 2010

Surely, No One Should Be Surprised that Palin Plays the Race Card

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The advance PR flacks for HarperCollins knew exactly what they were doing when they calculatedly leaked a provocative passage from Sara Palin’s newest ego stroke book, America by Heart. The passage incited race. This time the target is not President Obama, at least not directly. It is First Lady Michelle Obama. Palin dredged up the worn, tired, and patently false charge claiming that Michelle sullied America when she allegedly said at a stop during the 2008 campaign she was not proud of America until Obama became a viable presidential candidate.

The quote was deliberately hacked up out of context. The oft, well-documented cite of the full quote, its context, and Michelle’s expansive clarification mean nothing to Palin. In her twist and bend of Michelle’s words, it becomes a statement of fact to show that Obama as she put it learned to hate white folks listening to the racial “rants” of their former pastor Jeremiah Wright. Palin’s silly, and ignorant distortion makes perfectly good sense when you consider her and the political calculus she’s using.

First there’s her. Palin’s track record in acknowledging, let alone promoting diversity during her short tenure as Alaska governor was abominable. She’s on record with only a terse utterance on hate crimes legislation and on cultural diversity. According to the 2000 Census figures, blacks made up officially about 4 percent of the state population. But those who self-identify as at least part African-American bump up the percentage much higher. When American Indians, Aleuts, Eskimos, and Asians are taken together, minorities make up about one quarter of Alaska’s population. This makes the state one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation. Palin didn’t even bother to pay the customary lip service to hiring and promoting a diverse staff. She had no problem making that clear in a heated and contentious meeting with black leaders in Alaska, including prominent ministers, NAACP officials, and community activists. They met with Palin to voice their complaint over minority hiring and job opportunities. During the meeting she allegedly said that she didn’t have to hire any blacks. Even more damning, she purportedly said that she didn’t intend to hire any. Her press secretary disputed the charge, but revealingly added that Palin did not hire staff persons based on color, but solely on talent and skill.

But even if Palin had taken a stab at diversity it wouldn’t alter her political calculus one bit. Race is and has been the sometimes sneaky and coded, and other times open hammer that packs of bloggers, websites, talk radio jocks, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and gaffe prone GOP operatives have used to fan their institutionalized Obama hatred. They know that a racial tweak here and there will always touch a raw among many bigots who have made it amply plain that they loathe Obama’s policies and by extension him and will stop at nothing to get him out of the White House.
Michelle fits into the Palin plan to use her as a racial foil to smear the president. Michelle is gracious, charming, photogenic, smart, and most importantly from a political view, popular. That makes her a ripe target to go after. By playing race and trying to discredit her Palin does two things in addition to taking a backdoor swipe at the president. She tears down someone who can actually pose as a counterweight to the ugliness and mountainous negatives that polls show that Palin has piles of. Her other devious motive in going after the First Lady for her mythical sin is that is it serves as a convenient reminder that Michelle and Obama ala Bill and Hillary Clinton are a tandem team and that the alleged failing or missteps of the president can just as easily be attributed to Michelle as well. That’s why Palin picked on Wright to remind her cheerleading crowd that Obama ad Michelle as she put it “spent two decades in the pews of Wright.”

Palin double downed on the race beat by rapping Attorney General Eric Holder for his quip that Americans are cowards for not talking about race. Palin of course, conveniently neglects to mention that Obama quickly disassociated himself from the Holder knock, and nothing more was heard about that from Holder or Obama. It was the same though tactic as with Michelle; dredge up and distort an old off the cuff quote on race and stand it on its head to make a grand case that Obama, his wife, and his administration are closet bigots and America loathers.

Race as always is the tried and true vehicle that the GOP hit team repeatedly uses to make that dumb case. Palin in her crude, ignorant, but calculating way, has jumped on that too. Considering the source, surely, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson