TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 202
Principled pundit won't tell you: Should President Biden engineer "a Sister Souljah Moment?"
Within the current context, we're not entirely sure what that means, but let's not bother with that. In a typical display of typical brilliance, Professor Masket has boldly rejected the somewhat fuzzy idea.
These professors today! The professor began his essay for Politico by engineering a howler:
PROFESSOR MASKET (11/29/21): Joe Biden needs a “Sister Souljah Moment.” At least, that’s according to the quickly congealing conventional wisdom in Washington. That is, Biden and Democrats are in dire danger of losing control of Congress next year, and the one thing that could save them would be by bashing someone to Biden’s left on matters of race.
It seems to be an article of faith that this sort of tactic is a crucial one for Democrats, particularly as the party appears to find itself on the backfoot in the culture war.
Is that true? Is there really a "quickly congealing conventional wisdom in Washington"—a conventional wisdom according to which President Biden needs to create such a moment?
Has this really become "an article of faith" inside the rapidly congealing inside-the-Beltway crowd?
In support of these claims, the professor cites three (3) examples of such a call. "Mostly, these calls are coming from conservative anti-Trump voices," the possibly innumerate professor thoughtfully says.
Newsflash! Two or three "conservative anti-Trump voices" do not constitute "conventional wisdom in Washington," except perhaps during panel discussions on Deadline: White House. This hasn't kept New York magazine's Ed Kilgore from rushing to join the anti-Moment crowd.
We've never met Kilgore, who is a good, decent person. That said, his rejection of this (imagined) conventional wisdom strikes us as a sign of the times.
In the passage shown below, Kilgore recalls the way Candidate Bill Clinton engineered the original Moment during Campaign 1992. We can't help noting the ways Kilgore aligns himself with the actual conventional wisdom of the actual current crowd:
KILGORE (11/30/21): The allusion is to a speech famously made by Bill Clinton in the summer of 1992 (when he had already nailed down the Democratic presidential nomination) to a conference of the Jesse Jackson–chaired Rainbow Coalition criticizing the organization for holding a panel the previous day that included Sister Souljah. The rapper had recently made remarks related to the L.A. riots that some interpreted as promoting the killing of white people (a claim she denied).
Jackson (who had expressed pride in Souljah’s appearance at his conference) was sitting on the stage near Clinton as he spoke and understandably felt blindsided and exploited by what Clinton said. So it has gone down in legend as a “moment” when a Democratic politician pandered to swing voters (and perhaps to white racists) by conspicuously separating himself from Black political activists. And that, as Masket notes, is what some commentators want Biden to do to stem the political bleeding over controversies surrounding racial justice, including Black Lives Matter protests, the “defund the police” movement, and the alleged influence of critical race theory in public-school classrooms.
Sad! According to Kilgore, Souljah "had recently made remarks...that some interpreted as promoting the killing of white people."
Souljah went on to deny that claim, Kilgore quickly alleges. He says it's understandable that Rev. Jackson "felt blindsided and exploited by what Clinton said."
(For the record, he doesn't demonstrate that Jackson actually felt that way, understandably or not.)
Having noted the claims that Kilgore has made, we note what he doesn't tell us. Absent-mindedly, he doesn't tell us what it was that Sister Souljah actually said! That is left to the imagination of Us Tribals Today.
Needless to say, he does tell us that Candidate Clinton may have been pandering to white racists! Or at least, he attributes that possibility to "legend." (Later, he says he doesn't know what was in Clinton's head.)
Absent-mindedly, Kilgore forgets to tell us rubes what Souljah actually said! He lets us assume that her denial made sense, and that Clinton may have been engaged in an ugly pander—to white racists, no less.
Our conclusions would be these:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep—but in the end, we humans don't seem to be up to the task of refusing to fall in line with tribal conventional wisdom.
Also, these professors today! Having established those basic points, we would also say this:
Should President Biden create a Moment, as three minor figures have said?
Our answer to that would be no. But if someone suggests that we should devote a week to killing people of some particular race, it might make sense for President Biden to say that he doesn't agree.