When Bush II started the war in Iraq, former Secretary of State Laurence Eagleburger (under Bush I) came out against it. I was very impressed--that a Republican establishment member was speaking out against the Republican establishment. I thought that Sec. Eagleburger must be a person of integrity. Well, fast forward five years. Eagleburger apparently is back in line, with a letter to the editor
of the Daily P. in which he compares Barack Obama to Joseph McCarthy.
Apart from the fact that the sitting president more closely resembles McCarthy than anyone else currently in or running for office, this is clearly a disingenuous, misleading attack on Obama (and no, he wasn't talking about FISA
--that's another post...). The basis for the comparison? Remarks Sen. Obama made to supporters in a speech in Florida: "They're going to try to make you afraid of me. 'He's young and inexperienced, and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?' " Eagleburger says this is an accusation of racism against McCain. But Obama's remarks were not about McCain, but about republicans
. for a far more nuanced and accurate take on the remarks, try Eugene Robinson's column
in the WashPost.
Well, naturally, I couldn't let Eagleburger's disinformation stand, so I wrote a letter to the editor in response. It's not been printed yet, but they did call to verify authorship (good thing, after they published an e-chain letter
recently...) and that's usually a precurser to publishing. But, time is passing, so maybe they decided against it.
Text of my letter as I sent it:
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read former Secretary of State Laurence Eagleburger’s disingenuous letter to the editor regarding a statement Barack Obama made to supporters. Mr. Obama predicted that Republicans will try to sway voters by appealing to racial prejudices. But Mr. Obama was not referring to Mr. McCain. He said only that Republicans will use race in an attempt to defeat his candidacy. (Although it is true that after eight years of bungling by the Republican administration, there are not too many Republicans left, surely there are more than just Mr. McCain.) I don’t expect that Mr. McCain will make any racist remarks, but that doesn’t mean that some of his supporters won’t do so.
The GOP will certainly use any tactic they think will work to turn voters away from Mr. Obama. In fact, smear tactics referencing Mr. Obama’s race have already begun (he has not needed to “drag the issue in through the back door”). Fox News has referred to Michelle Obama as Mr. Obama’s “baby mama”; Right-wing activist Grover Norquist, a McCain supporter, referred to Obama as “John Kerry with a tan” (not a racist remark per se, but a reference to race nonetheless).
Sec. Eagleburger, a sophisticated man with much experience in the world of politics, also professes to believe that racism is a thing of the “old bad days,” seemingly unaware of recent news reports (in the Washington Post just last week) regarding the increase of white supremacist groups emboldened by Mr. Obama’s candidacy.
Sec. Eagleburger inappropriately equates Mr. Obama’s remarks to his supporters with a “vicious attack” made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Leaving aside the damage that Mr. McCarthy wreaked on our country and our Constitution (damage perhaps only equaled by Mr. Bush), Mr. Obama has made no vicious attacks. In fact, his entire campaign has been notable for taking the high road. Reminding his supporters of the reality of racism in this country—and it is a reality—is hardly a vicious attack.
One day, when race is truly no longer an issue, a presidential contender need neither remind supporters that racist attacks are likely to be forthcoming, nor be subjected to such attacks. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, as Sec. Eagleburger knows full well.
Update, 7/13/08: The Regress did not print my letter, but printed another response to Eagleburger's letter. That letter
was much shorter than mine and didn't take Eagleburger to task (didn't even mention him), and while it was a good letter, I feel it was important to call Eagleburger out on his disinformation. Oh well.