Community Organizing & thoughts on Gov. Miss Lipstick Pitbull Congeniality
AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth
Only at the RNC can people who one night before asked the country to do service for their country then now boo when Giuliani mentions community organizing.
This was a major theme of the speech from Gov. Miss Lipstick Pitbull Congeniality (thanks for the new moniker, Sarah, the Monty Python references were getting old) is that Obama was “just” a community organizer in Chicago when the Gov. was making high-level executive decisions for a town with one-third the population of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green housing project. (Yes, I know, Cabrini-Green is in North Chicago and Obama worked in South Chicago. I didn’t Google any projects in South Chicago and I thought the comparison worked better to imagine Gov. Lipstick unable to handle the problems of J.J. and the gang of Good Times.)
Gov. Lipstick said, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.” What does she think “community organizing” is? The very word “community” implies “responsibility”!
Here’s some of the reponsibilities taken on by a “community organizer”. I’ll boldface the “responsible” parts in case Gov. Lipstick wants to take notes:
Obama worked as an organizer at a time when Harold Washington’s election as mayor stirred his hopes and dreams, as well as those of blacks and progressives in the city. Interviews with people who worked with him during that time elicited few complaints–virtually everyone described him in glowing terms, including dedicated, hard-working, dependable, intelligent, inspiring, a good listener, confident but self-effacing. They expressed admiration for him as an organizer who trained strong community leaders while keeping himself in the background and as a strategist who could turn general problems into specific, winnable issues. Loretta Augustine-Herron, a member of the DCP board that hired him, remembers him as someone who always followed the high road. “You’ve got to do it right,” she recalls him insisting. “Be open with the issues. Include the community instead of going behind the community’s back–and he would include people we didn’t like sometimes. You’ve got to bring people together. If you exclude people, you’re only weakening yourself. If you meet behind doors and make decisions for them, they’ll never take ownership of the issue.”
Obama worked in the organizing tradition of Saul Alinsky, who made Chicago the birthplace of modern community organizing, as translated through the Gamaliel Foundation, one of several networks of faith-based organizing. Often by confronting officials with insistent citizens–rather than exploiting personal connections, as traditional black Democrats proposed–Obama and DCP protected community interests regarding landfills and helped win employment training services, playgrounds, after-school programs, school reforms and other public amenities.
One day a resident at Altgeld Gardens, a geographically isolated public housing project surrounded by waste sites, brought a notice about planned removal of asbestos from the project manager’s office. Obama organized the community to find out if there was asbestos in their apartments. They persisted as officials lied and delayed, then took a bus–with far fewer people than Obama had anticipated–to challenge authorities downtown. Ultimately, the city was forced to test all the apartments and eventually begin cleaning them up.
So back in 1985-88 while Obama was merely “community organizing” to protect the poor from asbestos, get them job training, and get opportunities for their kids, Gov. Miss Lipstick Pitbull Congeniality wants you to believe she was taking on the tough responsibilities of the mayor of Wasilla, AK (population, Belmont High School, Los Angeles, CA).
But Gov. Lipstick slyly got you thinking her mayoral experience coincided with Obama’s community organizing. Not so.
According to her biography from the Alaska governor’s office, Palin graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987 with a degree in communications-journalism. She then worked as a television sports reporter from 1987 to 1989, according to the Almanac of American Politics.
So while Barack Obama is working the streets of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago (population, 3,000,000) to help poor people, Gov. Lipstick is nursing her hurt feelings from losing Miss Alaska the year before, modeling her “I’m broke but I’m not flat busted” t-shirt in her dorm room at the U of Idaho.
While she’s honing her chops as a small-town sports reporter in Anchorage (population, Chicago’s South Side), Obama is entering Harvard Law School and becoming the president of the Harvard Law Review.
While she’s becoming a city councilman of Wasilla, AK (population, Chicago’s South Side Oakland neighborhood), Obama is registering 150,000 new voters (half as many new voters as residents of Anchorage) and writing a best-selling memoir.
When she becomes the mayor of Wasilla, AK (population, the Portland Oregon Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade), Obama is elected to the state senate in Illinois (population 13,000,000).
When she’s running for Lt. Governor of Alaska (population, Fort Worth, Texas) and losing, Obama is judging the war in Iraq to be a huge mistake that will turn out to be an enormous foreign policy disaster.
When she’s winning the governor’s race in Alaska (population, one-fourth of Chicago), Obama is already a US Senator with two years under his belt.
Now, she wants to make the case that she’s got this executive experience while Obama was voting “present” 130 times in the Illinois state legislature (out of over 4,000 votes, putting his “present” votes as 3.25% of all his votes). Only a simpleton like Giuliani would try to cast a “present” vote as a mark of indecision, when, in fact, it is often a very decisive move with strategic importance:
Illinois legislators often vote “present” and for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes blocs of lawmakers do it as a protest in some dispute over rules and procedures. Obama was often joined in his “present” votes by 10 or 20 other senators.
In other cases, lawmakers do it to signal objections to the details of a measure that they support in principle. They also use “present” votes as strategic moves to defeat legislation or, of course, simply to avoid taking a firm position.
Meanwhile, let’s consider what executive experience Sarah Palin had to exercise as a governor for twenty months. (Let’s not consider executive experience in Wasilla, which was run by a city manager for the first time when Palin took office and which decision consist of where to put the new Wal-Mart and what to do about the moose in the garbage at 3:00am.) She does have a firm command of Cheney-approved energy policy, which is to be expected in the oil and gas rich lands of Alaska. She’s firmly committed to drilling in ANWR and bringing in more money for oil companies and, by extension, her home state.
But think of all the executive decisions governors in most states have to make. Tough decisions on urban issues (Alaska doesn’t really have “urban” areas), race issues (other than Alaskan natives, not much diversity in a state with 3.5% black population and almost 4% Latino/Hispanic population), and agricultural issues (not much farming in Alaska.) Don’t forget that she’s got no real tax issues to deal with (Alaska has no sales tax nor any individual income taxes); more than half of her state’s revenue comes the petroleum industries (that ANWR stance makes more sense now) and federal subsidies.
So to summarize Gov. Miss Lipstick Pitbull Congeniality’s talking points:
|Gov. Sarah Palin:
Competing in Miss Alaska, finished 2nd
|Sen. Barack Obama:
|University of Idaho, Journalism||Harvard Law School|
|Anchorage TV sports anchor||President of Harvard Law Review|
|City Councilman of a town of 5,000||Registering 150,000 new voters and writing a New York Times bestseller|
|Mayor of a town of 6,000||State Senator in a state of 13,000,000|
|Running for Lt. Gov. and losing||Declaring the Iraq War to be a mistake|
|Becoming Governor of state of 680,000||US Senator from state of 13,000,000 for two years|
The saddest thing is, having grown up in rural, small town, lily-white Idaho, I know that much of what I’ve exposed here will be seen as assets by so many low-information (my favorite euphemism for stupid) voters. “She don’t got no Ivy League yoo-knee-versity education, so she ain’t been brainwashed by the liberal elites!” She’s going to play the “I’m one of you” card to the rural voters, who feel like they’re helpless against the mandates of ultra-liberal city slickers. “Why, she hunts and fishes and killed her a b’ar when she was only three! And that other fella, why, he’s all slick and lawyer-fied and just a tad bit uppity!”
I’d also warn, from the small-rural-town perspective, about going after her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. We see a shitload of hypocrisy there, when the no-sex-ed, no-abortion Governor can’t even keep her teenaged daughter pure. What the rubes see, though, is a woman who has the right viewpoint on sex: that it is a pleasurable gift from God given to us in exchange for being fruitful and multiplying. Our viewpoint would be valid if they were really interested in preventing teen pregnancy, but they are not. Oh, they’d rather their daughters remain virgins until marriage, they’ve taught them to “just say no”, but they also understand that God makes horny teens. That the girl got pregnant isn’t a scandal to them, it’s part of God’s plan, and that the girl will keep the baby and shotgun-marry the father makes everyone in the story look like heroes to the rubes. Aside from the sex before marriage, the daughter, the fuckin’ redneck, and the mother are all making good Godly decisions. This story endears her to all those similar anti-sex-ed pro-God moms whose daughters got pregnant and then were able to make the unGodly choice to abort because of those Ivy League liberal yoo-knee-versity atheists on the bench that let women kill womb babies.
My hope is that finally, after years of the older ones dying off and the younger ones getting decent educations (much of it through the internet), there will be enough of us sane, educated urban types to tip the scales against the rubes of the Gov. Miss Lipstick Pitbull Congeniality’s fan club. This election will tell me exactly where America is in her evolution. Whoever wins, this country will deserve exactly who they get.