Friday, April 07, 2006

Young man, are you listening to me? I said, young man, what do you want to be?

As a kid my whole concept of government was one part "Schoolhouse Rock" and and one part Norman Rockwell. When I first started to "get" the concept of Congress, elected representatives from all parts of the country, I pictured a place where Eskimos, native Americans and businessmen all met to hammer out the people's business and pass our nation's laws. Since I saw America as made up of people of men and women of all races, finacial backgrounds, shapes and sizes I assumed Congress, as a micro-representation of our society, would be the same.

I know, I know. I was a naive little bastard.

When I was older and in college and really started reading up on the history of our government I was surprised to find out that in the past there had been fights on the floor of Congress and duels over disagreements between Representatives. I found this strangely appealing. Not the part where people actually got hurt, I wasn't pining for any more Alexander Hamiltons. I was attracted by the concept that once upon a time those that were elected to office actually cared passionately about the issues before them. Passionately enough to physically fight for them if necessary. To risk life and limb.

I know Cynthia McKinney can come off a little crazy in interviews. There's a certain "boy who cried wolf" aspect to her charges of racism and the timing wasn't the best as it gave the Republicans an issue to jump on. As if they really needed an issue to jump on. If they got nothin' they just make stuff up. War on Christmas, anyone?

But I can't help but wonder if Congress might actually be a little better off with twenty more Cynthia McKinneys. Because from where I sit she looks a lot more like the country I live in than Tom DeLay or Dennis Hastert. And nobody can say she's not passionate.


Don Snabulus said...

I know the kind of people Jospeh is talking about whose kneejerk reaction is calling racism instead of taking personal responsibility, but I think this situation is different.

Congresspeople are not supposed to be required to use the security checkpoint like everyone else and there are only a couple of black women in Congress to memorize the faces of. It is hard to see this not being racism; partially because of the incident itself, but moreso because of the time afterward when she was called Crazy Bitch on and Welfare Ho and so forth by people we realize are wingnuts, but are also mouthpieces for America. Tertiarily, it doesn't appear to happen to anyone else.

Maybe it is my partially African relatives coloring my perspective (pardon the pun), but my experience being around several Blacks includes not being served in a restaurant in Newberg, OR and getting pulled over on my parents' street in my home town for no reason other than having a black passenger. I've heard people say mean things and most Blacks I know just shrug it off and try to fit in. I don't want to minimize other's experiences, but my personal experience shows the evidence going towards more racist acts than people crying racism (although I've seen it happen).

Being large, strong, white males, it is amazing the things we don't need to even think about because it never happens to us.

McKinney is not the kind of elite that normally walks the halls of Congress. She acts like a regular person instead of a politician and that may be why she comes off unpolished or unstable (I haven't seen her like that, so I don't really know).

What I know for sure is that she does not accept the 9/11 whitewash and I am glad for all of New York that someone is still fighting to find out the truth of what is going on there. I also know she fights hard for the constituents in the poor part of Atlanta her district resides in.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are saying; this woman has been treated unfairly, racism was certainly involved, the incident is being spun like a dervish by the right, she most certainly has the same political mindset as I do and fights for what I believe in, and I understand in these circumstances it might seem counterproductive for me to point out she comes off (superficially at the least) like a crazy person. But she does. Just like John Kerry appears to be a long winded zombie. Unfortunately we live in a society that places a great deal of weight on the exterior of people. Overlook this at your peril. Or change the society. But that's my point.

Don Snabulus said...

That's a good point and she must have really looked bad in the interview. However, I think I should point out that our current discussion is an illustration of how the right has already won this battle.

Using their money and media, they've forced the opposition, whatever they believe, to walk this image tightrope in order not to get bombarded by 80% of the punditocracy. If they slip, they are toast. The Dean scream, the Kerry campaign, and now this are all highly scrutinized by the right and the image of bumbling and indecision by Democrats is a carefully (and very well) crafted one.

They don't need to fight the racism charge when the debate becomes whether McKinney is bats**t crazy. They don't need to respond to Bush's lies when the debate becomes whether the Swift Boat Liars are telling the truth. They don't need to discuss popular issues facing Democrats when the debate is whether Howard Dean is a loose cannon. See how it works?

We can call Bush an idiot until we're blue in the face, but the right-wing extremists have us figured out. They know how to get the free pass while the opposition squabbles about mundane details. By getting us all mad about their craziness, they also insulate their base because we are too pissed off to want to discuss things with people we might disagree with.

Dean Wormer said...


As to your first comment: I think we both read the same thread at and had much the same reaction. The reason I've posted three different things on this issue stems a lot from me fuming over the crap that's being posted about McKinney at Fark. The irrational, angry response demonstrated in so many of the comments there is impossible to attribute to our understanding of what happened at that checkpoint.


At some point this week the incident at the checkpoint got seperated from the politics. I would argue that happened almost immediately as the incident itself probably wouldn't have gotten much national press if the right weren't going out of their way to "fluff" it.

Their building the story up is the reason McKinney's had to be interviewed at all.

So those of us that would agree that hitting a cop is wrong but want to take a wait and see attitude about what actually happened have been outpaced by the politics. For the most part those are politics of race.

When it comes to that I've recently come to the revelation that I personally have a gut negative reaction every time somebody accuses "racism." I have to remind myself that racism is real, will probably always be something we have to contend with as a part of the human condition.

Remember in the "Boy that cried Wolf" there really was a wolf.

Don again-

Very well put. It goes to my post earlier about Pelosi throwing chum to the sharks. She did the same thing with Feingold. STOP reinforcing the opposition frame. If you can't think of a way to defend it then just shut the hell up.

On the McKinney incident Pelosi should have said "Cynthia McKinney is an honorable and valuable member of this caucus who has served her district well for over a decade. We will wait for the results of the district attorney's investigation before commenting further." Or something like that.

Don Snabulus said...

Thanks to both of you for your posts and comments. You both always give me a lot to think about.