- Sarah Palin, on FOX's On the Record, August 13, 2012
On Tuesday, Sarah Palin, political savant and John McCain's recurrent nightmare, strutted her Ph.D.-level knowledge of the vice presidency on FOX News' On the Record. The host, Greta Van Susteren, began her Palin segment with an airing of Joe Biden's comment before a Danville Virginia crowd where he quite truthfully told them, :
"Romney wants to let -- he said in the first hundred days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street! They're going to put y'all back in chains!"It was the "put y'all back in chains" seasoning that grabbed the wingnut mind: "Heaven forfend. I think I shall faint." Van Susteren focused on the comment and asked Palin to opine, which, of course, she did. Try and stop her:
"There weren't enough groans and boos when he said such a disgusting comment, really, especially to a demographic there that is -- includes about 48 percent of the community being black Americans.Now this, finally, is something she can speak convincingly of, about and to. Having herself carved out a poison pill leadership role as McCain's running mate, who else would one turn to for guidance? Palin went from not knowing what a vice president actually did to a master of how a vice presidential pick can destroy a ticket. She does seminars on this subject. Her judgment ought to frighten Biden; can he see Sarah Palin from his house?
Greta, if that's not the nail in the coffin, really, the strategists there in the Obama campaign have got to look at a diplomatic way of replacing Joe Biden on the ticket with Hillary. And I don't want to throw out that suggestion and have them actually accept the suggestion because then an Obama-Hillary Clinton ticket would have a darn good chance of winning.
But really, Joe Biden really drags down that ticket."[Italics added]
In fact, despite Palin's expert testimony, in Danville Virginia, Joe Biden knew quite well where he was, who he was speaking to, and why. Danville Virginia, home to 43,000 Virginians, was essentially born of, by, and for tobacco in the late 18th century, and served as an important rebel city during the Civil War. In fact, from April 3 to April 10, 1865 Danville was the last headquarters of the Confederate States of America. In the civil rights era the city was among the more disgraceful cities in anti-civil rights ferocity. Most recently, Danville, as part of Virginia's 5th Congressional District, was represented from 1997 through 2008 by the extravagantly and incalculably sinister Republican wingnut congressman Virgil Goode. Danville is presently represented by yet another wingnut, Republican Robert Hurt.
So, understandably at first, I thought Biden was operating behind enemy lines. Danville City, however, turns out to be a Democratic oasis within its considerably Republican congressional district. In the GOP 2010 landslide, 57% of Danville citizens voted to return Democrat Tom S. P. Perriello to the U.S. Congress despite the RNC's heavy promotion of what they labeled a "Young Gun," the eventual winner, Robert Hurt. In 2008, n a congressional district that went for McCain/Palin, Danville gave 59% of its votes to Obama/Biden, and 57% to Democrat Mark Warner, U.S. Senate candidate and eventual winner. On its own course, Danville sails into the wind in southern Virginia, there on the border of North Ccarolina.
The census reveals that Danville, is roughly split between white and African Americans. The city's median household income from 2006 to 2010 was $29,936, trailing the state median by nearly $32,000 per household. It's primarily a poverty level town, with persons below poverty level at 24.4%, versus 10.3% statewide. The median value of owner-occupied homes hovers around %90,000, some $165,000 below Virginia's median. Dirt poor? If not, it's the next worst thing.
Biden was, then, at home, in a so-called "purple" town in a geographically red state. A vital state for President Obama's re-election. Perhaps, a must win. Biden also, in raising the question of financial reform during his speech, took a shot at the 5th Congressional District's congressman, Robert Hurt, whose committee assignment is the House Committee on Financial Services. Hurt is a staunch opponent of government regulation of the financial industry. In 2012, Hurt faces a strong challenger, Retired Air Force Gen. John Douglass, a candidate highlighted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in their "Red to Blue" campaign. So, a stop there by Biden had importance beyond the Obama/Biden ticket, i.e. the so-called "down ballot" House race. Danville usually turns out approximately 48% of its voters, perhaps Biden's visit will fire up a few hundred more.
Finally, Susteren and Palin, by focusing on Biden's "back in chains" phrase, they failed to address the substance of what he was referring to. He was not, as Palin suggested later in the interview, insulting Danville's African Americans, roughly 48% of its population. Far from it. Biden was warning all Danville residents that Romney and, especially, Ryan seek to zero out financial regulation root and branch. It is certain that African Americans understood this use of the term quite well, as they, more than others have suffered due to the financial meltdown. Romney and Ryan, Biden reminded them, seek to return us to the governance of an unchained Wall Street. Just as certainly, should Romney/Paul win the election, hold on to the House, and reclaim the Senate, the financial industry's self-interested machinations would once again, over time, be able to drive large majorities of our country's citizens into more financial ruin, thus creating more metaphorical "chains" to tie average Americans to debt servitude.
Biden's use of a metaphor that hearkens to the age of enslavement is quite correct. Biden was telling the truth: If we do not turn back this Ayn Rand crowd wrapped within and around Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, we will, most of us, be moved further than ever before down the road to a different kind of enslavement - wage and debt serfdom, but enslavement nonetheless, one that restrains the vast majority of plain folk Americans' economic and social mobility, perhaps for decades.
"Maybe not, Maybe not today," as Rick memorably said to Ilsa in the movie Casablanca, "Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."
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