Cracker jacks: The Washington Post show appalling bad judgment on this mornings Free For All page.
Free For All is a full page of letters to the editor; it appears every Saturday. This morning, the page is dominated by an unfortunate letterand by a large photo which seems to show Barack Obama ogling a young woman at the recent Group of Eight summit.
Yes, that ridiculous photo is back! This morning, the photo sits atop the fold on the Free For All page; it spans three columns (out of five). Beneath it, we get a scolding headline. How Not to Treat the First Ladyor Any Lady, the Washington Post coldly scolds.
Beneath that headline, we get this irate letter. It comes from a woman who apparently hasnt heard that the photo in question was almost surely misleading:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (7/18/09): How Not to Treat the First Ladyor Any Lady
As a wife and mother and a huge fan of first lady Michelle ObamaI met her at my daughters' elementary school in February and was so impressed by how warm and inviting she wasI was shocked to see the picture [Style, July 10] of President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy appearing to "check out" some anonymous woman's backside.
Are you kidding me? Did The Post feel it necessary to reiterate that "boys will be boys"?
Women and wives around the world do not need to be reminded of this, and our wonderful first lady certainly does not need to be mocked in such fashion.
Has The Post turned to tabloid journalism to get more readers?
By the way, women check out men all the timewe are just more discreet about it.
The writer felt Michelle Obama had been mocked by the photo. The Posts reaction to her complaint? It printed the photo again!
Good God. By now, almost everyone has seen the tape of this pointless incidenttape which suggests that Obama wasnt checking out this anonymous womans backside. But the Post has now re-pimped the incident. The photo is backand its large.
(We can find no link to the layout of this mornings Free For All page, or to the photo and caption itself.)
For good measure, the paper includes two other letters in this large chunk of Free For All. The second letter complains about the way the Post persistently panders to Michelle Obama. The third letter will re-stir the thought, in many minds, that Michelle Obama condescends to the military (same link). And oh yes: To remedy one identified problem, the Post now names that anonymous woman. In the caption below todays photo, the Post reports that this once-anonymous person is actually Mayara Tavares, a teenage junior delegate from Brazil to the Group of Eight summit.
Its always best to have a name to put with an anonymous backside!
This entire presentation represents woeful, appalling bad judgment. Then too, theres the cartoon the Post chose to run on todays op-ed page. (We can find no link.)
The cartoon, by Ed Hall, pictures Sonia Sotomayor at her crowded Senate hearings. Im afraid youve misconstrued my statement, she is saying to someone on the Senate panel. But inside bubbles, Hall shows us what she is thinking:
You stupid cracker, Sotomayor is secretly thinking, in this mornings cartoon.
This is unfortunate for several reasons.
First, we know of no reason to think that Sotomayor perceives the world that way. She certainly showed no sign of such attitudes during her hearing; wed guess that shes smarterand wiserthan that. Cracker isnt as ugly as certain other group insults, which have done so much harm in the course of our history. But its an unhelpful group denigration too.
Wed be amazed if Sotomayor is inclined to throw such insults around. When cartoonists picture her that way, they poke at unhelpful social divisions. Most specifically, they encourage conservatives to picture Sotomayor that way. They drag the world down to their level.
That said, a certain type of pseudo-liberal lives for such denigrations. Theres nothing the modern pseudo-liberal loves more than rising up in High Racial Outrageand were talking about white pseudo-liberals here, not about liberals from minority groups. Anyone who followed liberal reaction to this weeks hearings saw this pleasing old impulse acted out. On our progressive TV shows, reporting of the hearings was quite predictable: Our hosts would find the tiny moment in each days hearing where we could all flare in High Racial Outrage. They would feed us that moment, punctuating their presentation with a look of Extreme Moral Horror. This would substitute for any attempt to report any real issues being explored by Sotomayor and the stupid crackers who were questioning her. In this way, we arrange to be a bunch of dumb crackers ourselves.
By the way: Weve been reviewing transcripts of the hearings, and some of those stupid crackers seemed to do fairly well in various lines of questioning. Is Jon Kyl one of the stupid crackers? On Thursday morning, he asked Sotomayor, again and again, to identify the precedents which compelled her decision in the Ricci case, or which would have compelled the full Second Circuit if it had addressed the matter. Were not legal eagles here, and were willing to be corrected or further informed. But wed have to say that Kyls questions struck us as relentless and focused, while Sotomayors answers seemed hazy and evasive. But then, a lot of the questioning seemed pretty good, although youd never know it from watching the helpful hosts who served us on liberal TV this week. Of an evening, theyd help us see that The Others are racists. Beyond that, we were left on our own.
For ourselves, we dont have a strong view on the Ricci case; wed love to see better analysis. But what were the precedents which compelled the original three-judge decision? Why did six members of the Second Circuit seem to think they wouldnt be so compelled? Weve read the Kyl-Sotomayor colloquyand we still arent sure. Maybe Ed Hall can explain!
Bottom line: Pseudo-liberals simply love to name-call southern whites. Its one of the joys of pseudo-liberalism, although it tends to work against the goal of spreading progressive views. By the way: This is part of the explanation for the press corps treatment of both Clinton and Gore during the last, unfortunate decade. In Fools for Scandal, Gene Lyons reported the national press corps instant condescension toward all things Arkansan. In later years, some Gotham pundits plainly built their negative view of Gore out of southern cracker frameworks. We think of Jimmy Breslin, who was completely open about this. And of gun-and-God-hatin Frank Rich.
We pseudo-libs love to name-call them crackers! In the long run, this works against spreading progressive viewpoints. And in some part, its how we got Bush!
The Posts Free For All page is appalling today; it represents astounding bad judgment. But then, that cartoon aint a giant heap of sand better. Wed be surprised if Sotomayor thinks of other people that wayeven of those who arent morally perfect, as we liberals so constantly are.
But then, we love to drag others down to our levels. Some Free For All editor worked hard at that task in this mornings unfortunate Post.