The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Jefferson and the Wisdom of Whoopi Goldberg

the whole Jefferson affair — including the $90,000 he had in his freezer, or Pelosi asking him to step down from the Ways and Means Committee. Honestly, it makes sense to me. Democrats can’t make much noise about Republican scandals and look the other way when one of their own gets caught with a hand in the cookie jar. (Unless someone can give a logical explanation for the congressman having $90,000 in his freezer and being on.

But what caught my eye yesterday was the news that Pelosi’s recommendation to Jefferson roused the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Furious black lawmakers, rallying behind Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), were pulled back from the brink of open revolt against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an emergency meeting with her Wednesday evening.

The meeting with a handful of CBC members was called after Pelosi wrote the embattled lawmaker, who is at the center of a massive bribery scandal, a curt note requesting his immediate resignation from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Outraged that one of its members was being picked on even though he has not been charged with a crime, the Congressional Black Caucus had intended to issue a defiant statement against their leader but agreed after the meeting to pause, at least briefly, for reflection.

Um. You’re kidding me right? Ya’ll did see the video tape, didn’t ya? The brotha is on the take, on tape. And while I guess there’s somethign to be said for wanting him to be held to the same standard as white criminals, there’s a bit of wisdom from Whoopi Goldberg that needs to be remembered here.OK. It’s not from Whoopi Goldberg. It’s from one of her characters: Fontaine. It was around the time of one of Jesse Jackson’s presidential run, and during one monologue Fontaine went off on Jackson’s candidacy. I’m paraphrasing here, but it went something like this.

People tell me I need to support Jesse Jackson. “He’s the brotha,” they say. “You have to give him all your support. He’s the brotha.”

You know what I tell them? White folks always vote for white folks, ’cause they’re white folks.

(beat)

It doesn’t fucking work.

And guess what? It doesn’t fucking work in this case either.

[Other disgraced black politicians], like Jefferson, were once hailed as the best and brightest among political newcomers. They were expected to instantly improve conditions in their underserved communities.

When they’re popped, they wail that they should not be held to a higher standard of accountability than white officials that get caught with their hand in the campaign or union cookie jar. When they are also jailed, and pay hefty fines for violating campaign finance and ethics laws, nobody says that they have to be a cross between Mother Theresa and St. Paul.

Yet they should be held to that higher standard. Their mostly black constituents view them not as politicians, but as leaders and advocates. They look to them to represent their interests and to confront institutional power. Any legal smear on them, which in some cases may be questionable, soils their name. This makes it much harder for blacks to retain confidence in them. This diminishes their political power and influence, creating distrust and dissension among black voters. In turn, this makes it that much more difficult for blacks to generate any enthusiasm to get out to vote, or get involved in community improvement actions.

It doesn’t fucking work, and it makes people like this sound like they have a valid point And that’s a damn shame. ]]>

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