December 11, 2020

Joe Biden has been drawing mostly praise for his cabinet and adviser choices so far, for their deep well of experience and as a manifestation of his clear devotion to diversity at the very highest of levels. Even the fact that so many harken back to the Obama/Biden days, rather than being criticized for being unimaginative, have been rightly attributed to the need for stitching back together what seems like an irreparably torn national fabric, in addition to the aspirational attempts at progressing past the achievements of those eight years Trump attempted to erase.

That is, until the news of Biden's plans to nominate Tom Vilsack to his old position of Secretary of Agriculture. Joy Reid reminds us that when Vilsack was the Agriculture Secretary, Breitbart ran a disinformation campaign against Georgia civil rights legend Shirley Sherrod, and Vilsack fell for it and fired her.

Joy Reid asked Rev. Mark Thompson about the decision on her show tonight.

REID: She's a legend in Georgia. She's a civil rights legend, she and her husband. What do you make of the fact Joe Biden seems prepared to nominate this man despite that, when they need votes in Georgia?

THOMPSON: I'm baffled by it, quite frankly. He's already been there for eight years. I interviewed Lloyd Wright, the former head of the office of civil rights and department of agriculture a little earlier on my podcast, and we talked about all of the things that Vilsack did. Not only firing Shirley Sherrod, and not really helping the Pickford settlement be distributed to farmers. Most black farmers who lost their land only got $50,000. You can't rebuild a farm with that. Remember, Barack Obama himself called the U.S. Department of Agriculture "the last plantation" while Tom Vilsack was there. He actually said that. President Obama. Let me tell you something that Lloyd Wright said to me just this evening. He's talking with Georgians and there are Black farmers there in Georgia, and they're saying, "Well, why should we vote for Democrats if the Democratic president is going to reappoint Tom Vilsack to be the Secretary of Agriculture?" Just as in the meeting with the legacy organization, so to speak, the legacy civil rights organizations, Biden said "Defund [the Police]" hurt Democrats and there was only so much he was going to do. He didn't want to hurt the Georgia run-offs. The message for Joe Biden tonight is, renominating Tom Vilsack itself might hurt the Georgia run-offs.

REID: It makes no political sense whatsoever. They didn't seem to know who Shirley Sherrod was when Tom Vilsack fired her the first time. And apparently they don't remember her now, and they think that's gonna help them in Georgia? Sorry, I think that is absolutely insane.

I have never heard Rev. Thompson talk about anything and come away disagreeing with him, and on this subject, it's no different. Biden needs to reconsider, and pronto.

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