September 14, 2009

David Sirota takes on Florida GOP Chairman and Obama school speech fear monger Jim Greer on Don Lemon's weekend show on CNN. This time the topic is the collective freak out by people at these Tea Bag protests now that the scary black man has been elected.

Sirota asks Greer where the protests were when Bush was trampling all over our constitution and running up the deficit and you've just got to love Greer's response here -- deflect and denial.

First Greer cites Bush's terrible poll numbers and tries to conflate the protests going on now to the people protesting the Iraq War, who as Sirota correctly points out were completely different protesters and not the people taking to the streets now.

After admitting that they are different people Greer tries to paint the Tea Baggers as just every day Americans from all political walks of life, and not the fringe right of the conservative movement.

Then Greer tries to pretend that race isn't part of the problem with these protesters, which Don Lemon calls him out for.

LEMON: David, what's happening here?

SIROTA: Well, again, I think that there's a segment of the population that does not want to accept President Obama as a legitimate president. And I think that you can tell that this is really a partisan lynch mob by understanding that these people were not out making the exact same criticism of President Bush. Where were the people who were worried about the constitution when President Bush trampled the constitution with the Patriot Act? Where were these people talking about government spending when President Bush inflated the deficit to record proportions?

LEMON: Jim, that's a good question.

SIROTA: Where were they?

GREER: Well, I think you saw where they were when the polls showed that unfortunately from a Republican standpoint, President Bush was down in the 20s. I mean, the American public -

SIROTA: Where were the protests?

GREER: Well, you know, there were people protesting President Bush because I saw them quite often as I traveled the country.

SIROTA: Do you think conservative tea partiers are protesting --

LEMON: I do have to say no that people did protest the Iraq war. I saw a lot of that. I covered a lot of it.

GREER: A lot of that.

LEMON: People said they had pictures of President Bush. They hung things of him in effigy. They put it in on fire, lit them on fire. So there were things, but they were protesting a war, and that they were looking for evidence that never turned up. So it's kind of a different thing, but he was protested.

SIROTA: Those are different protesters.

GREER: Where we are today --

Well, they may be different protesters, but you asked me, where were they? And there were people protesting President Bush. Where we are today, Don, David, is that this administration has tried to radically change the role of government in our daily lives and the role of government in major industries that have made this country great. And that is why Americans, not just Republicans, but Americans are frustrated. They can't get answers to their questions. They're concerned about President Obama's views of what America should look like today and what it will look like in the future. And they just reject that. And they're angry. They're frustrated because it's not the America that they brought up to have great respect for, and they're concerned.

SIROTA: Can I - can I respond to that? Let me just respond and say -

LEMON: Quickly, David.

SIROTA: I understand the frustration about the bailouts. I was opposed to the bailouts. My point here is that there's a double standard. We did not see the tea party protests against President Bush. And that leads all of us - it should lead all of us to conclude that this is a partisan lynch mob. This is a segment of the population that does not want to accept President Obama. Some of that - part of that population does not want to accept them as our president because he's an African-American.

LEMON: What are you saying here?

Are you saying is it -- do you think racism is a factor?

SIROTA: I think there's -- I think there's partisanship. I think there's ideology. I think there's racism. I think these people are, again, a political lynch mob. They do not want to accept the legitimacy of President Obama. And I think that's a real tragedy. I mean, you want to talk about the role of government, and you want to talk about socialism. Let's just talk about that for a second.

LEMON: When you talk about socialism, really, I talk to people, and I don't think that they know what socialism really means. Because we don't live in a socialist society. I'm sure there can be socialist aspects to our - hang on - to our side of it. Really, it's contrary to popular belief. Socialism is not a political system. It is not an economic system. It is distinct from capitalism.

SIROTA: Yes, but we don't live in a pure capitalism, Don. I mean, I drove on a road to get here. That road was built with a socialist enterprise. The schools, the public schools, they're a socialist enterprise. Medicare is a "socialist enterprise." So let's have a fair debate, an honest debate about what's we're really talking about.

LEMON: And Jim, you don't really like bringing race up for this as well. Talk about that.

GREER: Because I think when you bring race up when it's not legitimate part of the conversation, it doesn't provide the opportunity that when race is a problem for it to be addressed like it should be.

You know, most Americans, if not all Americans, watched on January 20th when President Obama took the oath of office, he is president. He is a legitimate president. It is about his approach to governing. And when we have 38 czars, senior policy czars that are setting policy for cabinet secretaries without going through the process of Senate confirmation --

LEMON: I do have to tell you, though --

GREER: There's a lot of concerns about this.

LEMON: I do have to tell you, Jim, it is the elephant in the room. And, again, everywhere, I was at a big event in Chicago, and the same thing. People in the room saying hey, Don, nobody's talking about this. And these weren't African-Americans who were saying this. And these weren't necessarily liberals who were saying it as well.

Some of my conservative friends, some of the conservative people said it's the elephant in the room, no one really wants to talk about it. It's not the whole thing but it is a factor and you can't deny that. And maybe this is good for the country in a way because at least we get it out in the open, talk about it, maybe come to some understanding about it.


SIROTA: But, Don, that's the problem, it's not out in the open. You hear Jim denying that this is an impulse. Look, you've got the same tea party people questioning whether President Obama is an American citizen, demanding his birth certificate. It's already been shown, already been put out there. You have these people saying he was trained in a madrassa saying that he is not Christian. This all adds up to an effort to try to drag race into the conversation.

And then you have people like Jim who say, well, that's not really going on. You know what we call that? That's called dog- whistle politics. That's the right wing trying to signal to its base to try to play to a --

LEMON: Jim, I'm going to let you respond and I'm going to give you the last word because, you know, I talked to you a lot. I kind of beat up on you before. I'll give you the last word.

GREER: No, that's all right.

LEMON: What I want to ask you though is --

GREER: Sure.

LEMON: What's the solution? How do we - if you deny it, right, and the people are telling you hey, it's part of it, especially African- Americans or minorities. If they're telling you it's part of it and you deny it then you deny their truth. Maybe it's not a part of it once you come to some sort of, you know, agreement if you have a conversation. So then what is the solution? How do we work together, Jim? How do Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, everyone, how do you work together to get something - to get this resolved?

GREER: Well, if it deal is with the race issue, you make sure that anyone who is a decision-maker in the process or a leader of any political party or organization who's participating in this national discussion does not in any way tolerate the race issue and brings everyone back to what they need to be talking about, and that is the discussion of how America should be governed.

There's no place for this race issue. If it is present - and I'm not saying it's not - racism does exist in America. But it cannot always be the fallback position when we disagree with public policy issues. And I also think, Don, when race is talked so much by certain people about President Obama, it is disrespectful to the president, and it somehow goes back to, well, do you consider him legitimate?

And when I and others say, well, of course, we do, why are you even asking the question, I think it's disrespectful to the president.

LEMON: Right.

GREER: He is the president. America should celebrate the election of the first African-American president. But let's move on and talk about governing and the philosophy of governing.

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