In a recent talk show, right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh accused Democratic leaders of racism for attempting to put Congressman Jim Clyburn to the “back of the bus.” Initially, the comment from Limbaugh struck me as being extremely odd, especially from someone who is widely known for making inflammatory, ignorant and racist comments to incite the negative emotions of his listeners. Now, Limbaugh who has historically made incendiary statements such as, “They’re 12 percent of the population- who the hell cares,” “We need segregated buses…this is Obama’s America,” “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations,” and “The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” appeared to be repenting and accusing others of his past sin. To be sure, it didn’t take long before the whole truth relative to the “back of the bus” sound bite became apparent.
Somewhat similar to the case of Mrs. Shirley Sherrod, many media outlets only played a truncated snippet of what Limbaugh discussed on his controversial radio show. Actually, Limbaugh actually went on further to state that Clyburn’s sole motive for a leadership position (i.e., Minority Whip) was the associated perks such as a car. The right-wing commentator went on to discuss that the only way Clyburn would be able to keep a car would be to drive around the party’s white leader. Specifically, Limbaugh stated, “Clyburn’s new position: driving Ms. Nancy.
He’s not in the back of the bus; he’s in the driver’s seat. And, she’s in the back of the car being chauffeured.” This is clearly an extremely malevolent statement about the highest ranking African-American congressman in history! But, one has to wonder whether the controversial talk show host, who makes a significant amount of money by inciting fear and anger in his listeners, was actually telling the truth. Is there truly racism amongst the leaders of the Democratic Party? And, will Congressman Clyburn’s new position be confined to driving around Mrs. Nancy?
First, is there truly racism amongst the current leaders of the Democratic Party? Without objective evidence, it is difficult to proclaim this type of statement as it would represent an unsubstantiated generalization. But, certainly, the fact that Mrs. Pelosi has asked her Democratic colleagues to accept her creation of a number three House Democratic position for Clyburn leaves one contemplating on whether it is a case of blatant tokenism and the need to show diversity. What is the role of this newly created “Assistant Leader?” And, is it needed? Historically, this position has not been required, and there are no proposed roles or responsibilities that would warrant the need for it now. This “Assistant Leader” position is completely unheard of.
Without equivocation, the creation of this so-called No. 3 spot bespeaks of a certain level of xenophobia amongst Democratic leaders relative to promoting Clyburn to a “real” position of leadership. It is relatively safe to state that this new position exhibits a certain need to appease African-American voters within the party. With Pelosi’s favorability ratings being below 30% for the most part of the year, according to non-partisan polls, and the recent takeover of the House by the Republicans, one would think that the Democratic Party would contemplate new leadership- exclusive of race. Interestingly, Pelosi still found a way to position herself as the voice of leadership for the Democratic Party, despite the fact that a plethora of members of the Democratic caucus have expressed their sentiments that she should not remain the party leader in the House.
On the whole, will Congressman Clyburn’s new position be confined to driving around Mrs. Nancy? Resoundingly no! But, with a “fake” position with no current roles, responsibilities or need, one has to consider what the “Assistant Leader” position will really entail. In the No. 3 spot, hopefully, Clyburn will be able to exercise at least a modicum of the outstanding leadership that he has consistently shown over the years, as Congressional Republican leaders such as Jim Boehner and Mitch McConnell will try their best to ensure that President Obama is a one-term President.