A Former Small-Town Mayor's Perspective: the Laughable Response from the "Religious Left" to Gov. Palin's "Community Organizer" Digs [UPDATED]
Well it looks like some group calling itself "Catholic Democrats" and others on the so-called "religious left" are going to try to make hay out of the GOP's decision to respond to the Obama Camp's derisive elitisim concerning Gov. Palin's experience as mayor of a town in Alaska by poking fun at Sen. Obama's work as a "community organizer":
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, of the blog Making Light has this entry, titled “Slime, and several answers to slime” on comments by Palin and Giuliani in their speeches on Wednesday. It, and I, and the bloggers quoted in the entry, especially found egregious, if not unChristian, Palin’s quip, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”My Comments:
Joe Klein quotes in his blog at Time.com an e-mail he received from “from a group called Catholic Democrats.”Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech tonight mocked her opponent’s work in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.Klein follows with this:So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn’t know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed—job training, help with housing and so forth—from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord’s work—the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a “task from God.”)This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man’s decision “to serve a cause greater than himself,” in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate’s favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service—the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other—as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.
Perhaps [Palin] didn’t know this when she read the words they gave her. But Giuliani—a profoundly lapsed Catholic, who must have met more than a few religious folk toiling in the inner cities—should have known. (“I don’t even know what that is,” he sneered.”) What a shameful performance.
Another blog quoted in the Making Light entry is this one from Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake, “GOP Thinks Organizing In Your Community Is Worthless”:Correct me if I’m wrong, but without community organizers like Martin Luther King, Jr., we’d all still be dealing with separate water fountains for coloreds and Jim Crow Laws. And I mean the old ones, not the new poll tax crap that Hans Von Spakovsky keeps trying to sneak in through the sewers.But Palin is “pro-life” so she’s a good Christian, while people who try to help the already-born aren’t? That seems to be the message of too many on the “right” of our political spectrum. After all, it’s clear from reading the Gospels that preventing abortions was the only issue Jesus ever spoke about, while the poor and sick who were already adults just needed to get over it, right?
Oh, and ladies? No community organizers means that your voice doesn’t count for shit. No vote for you!
Lost your job and you need a hand with the utility bills or some food from the local church pantry? Suck it up, America, because the folks who used to extend a hand to those in need don’t count in Republican land. That “do unto others” crap has to stop, and Jesus was clearly just a rabble-rousing, do-gooder. Loaves, fishes, feeding the multitudes? Hogwash.
Your neighborhood watch program, to help supplement the police force whose budget keeps getting cut under the Bush Administration? Well, you don’t deserve a safe neighborhood and your efforts are useless anyway.
Cleaning up a local riverbed or a walking trail with your kid’s scout troop? Republicans think you are a loser.
Working with a job training or literacy program to help folks move from welfare to work? Republicans think your efforts deserve ridicule. Promoting a spay and neuter program at your local animal shelter? Republicans are laughing at you. Volunteer at your church pantry to help the least of these? Republicans are mocking you.
Country first? Only if you live in Republican country where they come first and the rest of us should take whatever they choose to trickle down on us.
Ah, that’s rich. Obama’s team derides Gov. Palin's experience as merely that of a small-town hick mayor out in the boonies and, when she responds to their elitist snobbery by pointing out that her experience is actually greater than that of a “community organizer”, suddenly they’re going to feign offense? Suddenly it's Gov. Palin who is "mocking" the common man who is served by these "community organizers"? Suddenly it's Gov. Palin who is "dismissive" of the work of people of faith?
Pathetic. Predictable, but pathetic. And laughable.
Look, I don't think Gov. Palin disparages the work of community organizers. As Gov. Palin points out, she's been one herself. I've done it, too. And, believe me, it can be hard work.
But Sen. Obama has NO BUSINESS touting - as preparing him for the job of President - his experience as "community organizer" on the one hand, and then dismissing, disparaging, and denigrating the work of those of us who have served as mayors of small towns across this country (as if that were truly the extent of GOVERNOR Palin's experience, anyway) on the other. Don't slap us around and then expect us not to fire back.
Yes, Sen. Obama, your service as a community organizer is laudable. But then, so is Gov. Palin's service as a small-town mayor. And so was mine.
The difference, as Gov. Palin pointed out in her speech, is that your community service does not equip you with the executive experience to be President of the United States (and, yes, I will state for the record that I have more executive experience and just as much government experience as Sen. Obama).
Again, no one doubts the service to the common good that your work as a community organizer no doubt provided. As I mentioned, I've been there myself. Even the mayors of our Nation's smallest communities are "community organizers", as noted by Gov. Palin. For 7 years, I served as Mayor of the Town of Columbia, Virginia. Near the beginning of my first term, we embarked on a major effort to revitalize a town that had fallen on very hard times in the 30 or so years since it was nearly wiped out by Hurricanes Camille (1969) and Agnes (1972). I worked closely with our town's 5 churches to organize meetings, events, and people in order to promote local involvement in the efforts to create a revitalization plan. I worked hand-in-hand with county, state, and federal government officials (by the way, let me just tell you what a great guy and outstanding representative Congressman Virgil Goode is!) to bring much needed community-development block grants and transportation grants to Columbia (almost $1 million total). We provided decent housing for those who couldn't pay for improvements themselves. We fought against absentee landlords who care only about making a buck - housing poverty-stricken families in the most makeshift and pathetic of circumstances, caring little about making improvements to their properties and to the town. For our efforts, we got the Richmond Slimes-Dispatch doing an "investigative expose" (which came to NOTHING, by the way) on how the grant money we had received was being spent ... after the most egregious of the absentee landlords called in a favor with the paper to pay us back for our efforts against him. By the way, I and my fellow Town Council members got paid SQUAT for all the hard work we did to save our town.
While I'm sure Gov. Palin got paid for her work as mayor, I'm also fairly sure her experiences are similar to mine. As are, I would be willing to bet, the experiences of most of our Nation's small-town mayors.
So don't preach to me, Catholic lefties, all this crap about how Gov. Palin doesn't appreciate the work of "community organizers". Especially when she's been one herself, and more especially when her remarks came only in response to your guy's elitism and snobbery in continuing to dismiss the contributions and values of small-town America.
At National Review, Michelle Malkin also takes on the ginned-up umbrage of the "religious left" over the "community organizer" barbs:
... Team Obama was not amused. (Neither were the snarky left-wingers on cable TV who are now allergic to sarcasm.) They don’t get why we snicker when Obama dons his Community Organizer cape. Apparently, the jibes rendered Obama’s advisers sleepless.(emphasis added)
In a crack-of-dawn e-mail to Obama’s followers hours after Giuliani and Palin spoke, campaign manager David Plouffe attempted to gin up faux outrage (and, more importantly, donations) by claiming grave offense on the part of community organizers everywhere. Fumed Plouffe:Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack’s experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed. Let’s clarify something for them right now. Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.Let me clarify something. Nobody is mocking community organizers in church basements and community centers across the country working to improve their neighbors’ lives. What deserves ridicule is the notion that Obama’s brief stint as a South Side rabble-rouser for tax-subsidized, partisan nonprofits qualifies as executive experience you can believe in.
What deserves derision is “community organizing” that relies on a community of homeless people and ex-cons to organize for the purpose of registering dead people to vote, shaking down corporations, and using the race card as a bludgeon.
As I’ve reported previously, Obama’s community organizing days involved training grievance-mongers from the far-left ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). The ACORN mob is infamous for its bully tactics (which they dub “direct actions”); Obama supporters have recounted his role in organizing an ambush on a government planning meeting about a landfill project opposed by Chicago’s minority lobbies.
Ah yes. So, you see, Sen. Obama was doing "God's work" during those years he was rabble-rousing on behalf of ACORN (currently under investigation here in the Cleveland area for voter fraud) and working with an organization that is not above registering dead people to vote.
Now I see why certain left-leaning Catholic groups might be so upset. Perhaps they think that's what G.K. Chesterton was talking about in referring to "the democracy of the dead"?
Oh and have you heard this lame one?
"Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor."Uhhhh, yeah. Jesus came to earth to be a "community organizer". Just like "The One". That's the ticket. And Gov. Palin is just like Pontius Pilate. Right.
(Test: Between Gov. Palin and Sen. Obama, which do you think would be more likely to utter the question "What is truth?")
"Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor." (Can't you just FEEL how smug and satisfied with themselves that they are for coming up with THAT one? Too bad its awful theology - see Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth.)
The New Republic on the "myth" of Sen. Obama's community organizing past.