by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
(Providence, Rhode Island) – There was a lot going on this week in the world of politics and not all of it was going on in the halls of Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, some of the politics was playing out in the most unusual of places. Here are my weekly political observations:
"The Politics of Paula Deen" – The Southern cook has lost virtually every sponsorship, business venture and TV show over her admission that she used a racial slur some thirty years ago. At last count, she's lost as estimated $10 million dollars in the span of one week. So as the press, public and pundits continue to pile on, how much, is too much? It's starting to seem like over kill, especially for someone who has apologized over and over again. But it's also a hot political topic with fierce opinions all around.
"Politics Makes for Strange Bedfellows" – That old saying rings true this week, as two people have raised eyebrows by coming to Deen's defense - former President Jimmy Carter and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Carter, who is a fellow Georgian and a friend of Deen's, said, "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She's apologized profusely." Jackson said Deen should not be made the "sacrificial lamb" over racial conflict and he sent out a message on Twitter saying, "Let's redeem Paula Deen, she should not be destroyed." While people may be surprised at both Carter and Jackson, they – like Deen – actually grew up in the Deep South and know the era of racial intolerance, and the era of healing and acceptance that followed it, first hand. This isn't just context or theory for them; they actually lived it.
"To Tell the Truth" – I have read dozens of posts and comments on blogs and news articles over the past week and the most repeated opinion was that Paula Deen could have avoided all this turmoil, by lying and not making the admission, even though she was under oath in a legal case. One commenter known as Mission_Man7 said the following on CNN's website: "Important lesson here: never tell the truth about anything negative in your past, no matter how long ago it was nor how trivial it was. Society functions much better if we all operate as hypocrites and liars - no sense in being able to believe anything anyone says, eh?" Again, I was stunned by how many people suggested she just could have simply dodged the controversy by lying. It's a lot to ponder.
"To Err is Human; To Forgive Divine" – We'll give the last word on this subject to the man that Paula Deen referred to when she used the racial epithet. "Inside Edition" tracked down convicted bank robber Eugene Thomas King, Jr. He says he's turned his life around after serving prison time for robbing then-bank teller Paula Deen at gunpoint. King said, "I really feel for her. She's being persecuted because of that one little mistake in her judgment. She was acting out of anger. . . I regret that I pointed a gun at her and I wish there was a way to take it back." My guess is that Reverend Jackson's admonition that Deen be "redeemed, not destroyed," would have applied to King 30 years ago, as well.
"Border Battle" – On to other issues now. The Senate voted this week 68 to 32, to pass an immigration reform bill. The prospects in the House are far less certain. House Speaker John Boehner has promised not to bring the measure to a floor vote unless the majority of his Republican caucus approves the bill. So, there are literally two votes needed in the House to make it happen. I have never seen this happen in all my years of covering politics and wonder if it will set a dangerous precedent. The Republicans currently hold a 234 to 201 majority, so instead of Democrats theoretically needing just 17 Republicans to join with them to pass the bill, they would need 117. This is going to be fascinating to watch. Immigration reform may be the only potentially major legislative accomplishment of President Obama's second term. So a lot of this may be about politics; not policy.
"Marriage Equality?" – The U.S. Supreme Court may have overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 this past week, but there is still a lack of clarity on where the same-sex marriage issue will settle in this country. With 28 states banning the practice; 12 states legalizing it; and 10 with a mix of policies, the future is anything but clear. What, for example happens to a gay couple that marries legally in Massachusetts, then moves to Wisconsin where same-sex marriage is banned? What if they now want to divorce? With 120,000 same gender couples now legally married in the U.S. – and the marriage failure rate near 50 percent – the above scenario will happen. So, the Supreme Court is not done with this issue yet.
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