Breaking news: Vilsack still has his job
Instead, Vilsack let himself get snookered by a trick as old as storytelling, itself -- editing.
Just imagine how sweet it would have been for the White House if Fox News had run the story with Vilsack’s spokesperson saying, “The Shirley Sherrod tape raises serious questions that call for an investigation. However, until we know more about the tape and have spoken with Mrs. Sherrod, there will be no further statement.”
A day later the entire unedited tape would have surfaced, as it did, anyway. Then Beck, plus whoever else had weighed in by then to condemn Sherrod‘s supposed racism, would have been called upon to eat crow.
After that the history of how the tape had been prepared and made its way into the mainstream press would have been the story. But caught in a panic, Vilsack passed on that beautiful opportunity to one-up his rivals.
Instead, Sherrod was fired on the telephone, pronto!
Then we all witnessed the spectacle unfold. Fox News looked bad. The NAACP looked bad. The White House looked worse than any of them. Vilsack’s blunder revealed a scaredy-cat side of the Obama team that was just the opposite of the coolness under fire it had exhibited during the campaign in 2008.
Perhaps that is what living hardwired to the electronic media will do any group of people, eventually. But when quick response time is valued over accuracy and fair play, isn't trouble bound to follow?
According to reports President Barrack Obama said, “Vilsack jumped the gun.”
Speaking of jumping the gun, remember how long Democrats laughed at the premature jubilation of President George Bush in his jet pilot getup? “Mission accomplished!”
Well, there will be Republicans laughing at the cell phone sacking of Sherrod for at least that long.
So, the character behind the crafted-to-deceive tape, Andrew Breitbart, hit a home run in the dirty tricks game. Plenty of Republicans will decide that his highlights-reel version of Sherrod's remarks revealed a greater truth than the unedited version. No doubt, Breitbart's celebrity status has been buffed by this episode, so we've hardly heard the last of him.
At this writing, the most curious part of this story remains -- Vilsack still has his job.