Clas­sism joins racism, sex­ism in fetid elec­tion

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— In an elec­tion al­ready marred by racism and sex­ism, the first pres­i­den­tial de­bate brought to the sur­face an­other “-ism”: clas­sism.

Dur­ing the de­bate, Hil­lary Clin­ton rat­tled Don­ald Trump by men­tion­ing Ali­cia Machado. The for­mer Miss Uni­verse says that Trump, who owned the rights to the pageant, body-shamed her for gain­ing weight af­ter she won the crown. She says that he re­ferred to her as “eat­ing ma­chine” and “Miss Piggy.” Trump hasn’t de­nied that he made Machado’s weight an is­sue. He’s even sug­gested that he helped save her ti­tle by forc­ing her to lose weight.

But there’s more. Ac­cord­ing to the Venezue­lan beauty queen, Trump also called her “Miss House­keep­ing.”

Gee, Don­ald, racist much? The real es­tate ty­coon ob­vi­ously likes to in­sult peo­ple he con­sid­ers be­neath him, and any­one who works with his or her hands, or waits on peo­ple, fits the bill.

But this ten­dency to look down on fel­low Amer­i­cans based on class isn’t lim­ited to the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. It runs deep in our so­ci­ety. Even among lib­er­als, there is plenty of shame to go around.

Let’s not for­get that cringein­duc­ing story — re­called in the book, “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heile­mann — about Bill Clin­ton go­ing to the late Sen. Ed­ward “Ted” Kennedy for his en­dorse­ment in 2008, when Hil­lary Clin­ton was bat­tling Barack Obama for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the au­thors, when dis­cussing Obama, Bill Clin­ton told Kennedy: “Ted, a few years ago, this guy would have been get­ting us cof­fee.” The au­thors said Clin­ton de­clined to com­ment on the claim.

And then, there is what hap­pened af­ter the de­bate when CNN’s An­der­son Cooper gath­ered the net­work’s usual sus­pects — a “di­verse” panel of eight an­a­lysts and com­men­ta­tors that in­cluded one Latina, two AfricanAmer­i­cans and five whites.

The break­down mat­ters be­cause th­ese ses­sions have, dur­ing this elec­tion, of­ten di­gressed into at­tacks on Trump for be­ing racially in­sen­si­tive. But me­dia com­pa­nies rarely look in the mir­ror and ask them­selves if they re­flect the racial and eth­nic break­down of Amer­ica.

At one point, while dis­cussing the birther is­sue, CNN con­trib­u­tor Jef­frey Lord brought up Reg­gie Love, an African-Amer­i­can and Obama’s for­mer spe­cial as-

SAN DIEGO

sis­tant and “body man.” In a book that he wrote last year, Love in­di­cated that, in 2008, Obama sus­pected that ru­mors sug­gest­ing that he was any­thing less than 100 per­cent Amer­i­can were com­ing from in­side Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign. Love de­tailed a con­fronta­tion be­tween Obama and Clin­ton on the tar­mac at Ron­ald Rea­gan Na­tional Air­port in Wash­ing­ton, where Obama chal­lenged his op­po­nent to con­trol her aides and put a stop to the fear-mon­ger­ing.

This isn’t break­ing news. The story has been out there for a while, and — while you don’t of­ten hear it re­peated by the Clin­ton-friendly me­dia — no one has ever chal­lenged Love’s mem­ory, ve­rac­ity or cred­i­bil­ity.

Yet when Lord men­tioned Love, an­other pan­elist — for­mer Obama cam­paign strate­gist David Ax­el­rod — smiled and said this, in a dis­mis­sive and con­de­scend­ing tone: “He was [Obama’s] body man. He was the guy who car­ried his bags and stuff. So let’s not get car­ried away here ... “

Catch that? Ac­cord­ing to Ax­el­rod, who sup­ports Clin­ton, Love was just “the guy who car­ried [Obama’s] bags and stuff.” Given that Love is African-Amer­i­can, that com­ment was re­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

Here’s what Ax­el­rod was re­ally say­ing: This isn’t a cred­i­ble source. This is a lit­tle per­son, an in­signif­i­cant peon. Noth­ing to see here. Don’t bother lis­ten­ing to him. Lis­ten to me. I don’t carry peo­ple’s bags. I shovel ver­bal ma­nure on TV. That’s more hon­or­able.

This may come as news to Ax­el­rod, but Love grad­u­ated from Duke Uni­ver­sity with a de­gree in po­lit­i­cal science and pub­lic pol­icy and then went on to get his MBA at the Whar­ton School of the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia.

I await the outcry from the di­ver­sity po­lice, those overly sen­si­tive, po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mon­i­tors of per­sonal be­hav­ior who quickly la­bel peo­ple “racist” when they step out­side the line. Ax­el­rod did just that.

Granted, the Demo­cratic strate­gist is not run­ning for pres­i­dent, and he doesn’t have a doc­u­mented his­tory of racism.

But what he said, and how his fel­low pan­elists just brushed it off, tells us a lot about why peo­ple have so much dis­gust for the me­dia and the spin doc­tors that now pol­lute it.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ ruben­navarette.com.

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