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July 28, 2010
Several months ago, I invited one of the best of the up-and-coming journalists of the “new media”/“social networking” generation to address a class I teach on Congress. All went well until a student sought the guest's ideas on how civility might replace the partisan strife that characterizes so much of contemporary politics. "The first thing we have to do is get those 'baby boomers' both off the sets of cable news broadcasts and banished from both print and digital media," he said.
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July 21, 2010
It was a scene right out of Bonfire of the Vanities, but with an interesting twist. In the book and in the movie, each of the characters performed according to stereotype, while cynical audiences and readers roared. In this farce, an African-American woman, serving at the pleasure of the president, was captured on YouTube confessing to having dispensed less aid to a white farmer than she might have on the basis of his race. The NAACP, singed by criticism for calling the Tea Party leadership to account for racist epithets uttered by unidentified attendees at its rallies, anxious to demonstrate its own sense of fairness, criticizes the political appointee. The Obama administration, under criticism for the attorney general’s decision not to prosecute the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation, and jittery over the diminished standing the president enjoys among white voters, presses the official to resign.
Then, as the late Paul Harvey would have said, came the “rest of the story.” According to this narrative, the official’s YouTube remarks had been selectively edited. She appears on CNN and says not only that the now famous incident happened 24 years ago, but that she had assisted the farmer after all. She then relates how she had overcome her own prejudice against whites and cited her actions as an example of long-overdue racial reconciliation and healing. The farmer and his wife go on camera and credit her for having helped them save their farm.
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