Reassessing Rendell’s Comment

There was a time where public figures could get away with saying something controversial and there were few – if any – repercussions. A time before every statement was run through the political correctness prism to see if it would offended any group or demographic.

That is not the case anymore. Any mis-step, any wrong word or anything with the possibility of being controversial will be pounced upon by today’s electronic media. If not, there are bloggers and amateur journalists more than willing to take the quote and run with it.

The reason I bring this up is because of a comment made my Governor Ed Rendell last week. A quote that kind of slipped under the rader when it was first said, but gained some steam last week when former gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann took issue with it.

Rendell said that he believed there were Pennsylvania residents who would not vote for Barack Obama because he is black. Swann, during an interview with our own Sally Wiggin, was upset the governor would even bring up the possibility.

Let me say this: I think Swann should be upset, but not for the reasons you might think. Rendell’s assessment is hardly news. Anyone who thinks that the voting electorate is color-blind needs to move out of Disneyworld right now. In a country where people are actually swayed by celebrity endorsements or the choice of tie worn by someone running for office, it should shock no one that people will not vote for a candidate because he is black. There are people who won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. Even if one of them is truly the best candidate.

My outrage comes from the fact that Rendell should not be saying this when he has already endorsed Hillary Clinton. In light of Rendell’s support for Hillary, his comments about Obama amount to mudslinging of the worst kind. If Rendell did not suport any candidate, his comment would not only be a fair assessment, but a brave stand as well. He would be speaking to a subject few white politicians dare to tread.

I guess any questionable comment – no matter how slight – will get extensive coverage. All you need to do is look at the “pimping out” comments from an MSNBC reporter when describing the campaign efforts of Chelsea Clinton. Some comments deserve criticism because they are thoughless and hurtful. But Governer Rendell’s assessment does not fall into this catagory. If we look at the context – as we should every controversial statement – we would see that Rendell’s greatest mistake was supporting the other Democratic candidate before making his statement.
photo courtesy: Associated Press
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