Presidential hopefuls quiet on Ferguson turmoil

The police shooting and death of Michael Brown has gripped the nation amid clashes between protesters and the police in suburban St. Louis. But for most of those who want to lead the nation, there's little to gain in an election year by taking a stand or proposing new policy.
AP Wire
Aug 23, 2014

Instead, a group of potential 2016 presidential candidates are preserving their electoral prospects and retreating into safe rhetorical territory by saying very little, if anything at all.

Amid tensions over Brown's the death, Democrats and Republicans alike have been reluctant to take sides, draw any conclusions ahead of an investigation or connect the case to specific policy changes.

"As policymakers, I think we should wait and just be respectful of the community and the family before trying to tack our issue onto this tragedy," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has been promoting a new book as the protests have unfolded.

For Republicans, who have struggled to win support among black voters for more than a half-century, quickly siding with law enforcement carries risk amid anger over the death of the unarmed, black 18-year-old by the hand of a white police officer.

Democrats, meanwhile, have watched as President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, has sought to strike an appropriate tone, on one hand urging the public to remain calm in Ferguson and voicing the need for law and order while pointing to the case as another example of injustice felt by many African-Americans.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been vacationing in New York's Hamptons, hasn't publicly addressed the Ferguson case, nor has Vice President Joe Biden, who was vacationing when the shooting occurred.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was asked about the Ferguson case during a recent town hall meeting and cautioned against politicizing it. "None of us quite know yet exactly what happened in Ferguson," said Christie, a former federal prosecutor, on Tuesday. "I've been urging people not to prejudge anything here."

Charlton McIlwain, a New York University professor who has studied race in U.S. politics, said many political leaders see little upside to discussing the racially charged incident at length. He said the portrayal of Brown and the police officer as either a hero or villain — at this stage — makes it difficult to take sides.

Clinton "like Christie and some of the others, simply don't see anything to gain from it," he said.

Civil rights leaders have urged future presidential candidates to address the unrest — most notably the Rev. Al Sharpton, who told participants at a rally last weekend that potential candidates like Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shouldn't "get laryngitis on this issue."

"Nobody can go to the White House unless they stop by our house and talk about policing," Sharpton said.

The exception has been Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has urged fellow Republicans to actively seek out African-American support. He wrote in Time that the incident resembled a war and showed the need to demilitarize police departments. He wrote the combination of a military mode with the erosion of civil liberties has led many black Americans to feel that they are being unfairly targeted.

"Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention," Paul wrote.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, considered by some Democrats as a future presidential candidate, also offered candor, telling reporters in Boston on Wednesday that he was "sick of unarmed black men being shot by police. I'm sick of the lawlessness on the streets. I think everybody's tired of it."

In Atlanta, the Democratic National Committee plans to consider a resolution promoting community policing following the Ferguson case in its summer meeting this weekend. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights leader, said in an interview that "people have been almost shocked over what happened. A lot of people don't know how to respond."

Asked why Democrats like Clinton and Biden haven't discussed it yet, Lewis said, "maybe they felt that the nation should speak with maybe one voice, and that should be the president."

 

Comments

Straightjacket

No politician will comment openly or without a script from their sponsors. They only want to preserve their political seat for their own gain, they don't care about Brown who? When they receive the script from their sponsors, the puppets will speak. Here is straight talk, anyone stealing from another, straight arming a business owner, making threatening gestures, refusing to heed police orders, should be shot. I don't care what color they are, I only care about their behavior. When you break the laws, you are out of the game and you don't have rights, you're cheating and you need to be stopped.

Mystic Michael

Ah, yes. The classic tough guy, "straight talk" meme. An oldie but a goodie. Lest this simple-minded bluster be permitted to linger unchallenged for even a moment longer, let's just nip 'er in the bud right now.

Hey, Sport. I got yer straight talk right here:

* Whether Michael Brown committed any "...stealing from another, strong-arming a business owner, making threatening gestures, and refusing to heed police orders..." is legally indeterminate - because such things are to be determined in A COURT OF LAW. Unfortunately, we'll never know what the law would have determined regarding any of these allegations - because Michael Brown got gunned down in the street, and was never even arrested, let alone charged.

* Last I checked, "...stealing from another, strong-arming a business owner, making threatening gestures, and refusing to heed police orders..." was not a capital offense.

* Actually, when you break the law, you still DO have rights. They're spelled out right in the Constitution. I mean the actual Constitution - not the make-believe Constitution that's in your head.

* Speaking of which, are you by chance one of those "constitutional fundamentalist" types? If so, then it may surprise you to learn that none of this is merely my personal opinion. The guarantee of due process is to be found in the Fifth Amendment. The prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment (such as summarily executing a person on the mere suspicion of petty crime) is to be found in the Eighth Amendment. Evidently the founding fathers were were very afraid of people like you.

So much idiocy. So little time..

Straightjacket

Ms mike wants a lawless society and give criminals rights oh let's hug some murderers. You're a wimp and you are the problem. Fight for the thugs right, wait for a trial. I saw the tape, the guy got what he deserved. Mikey come steal my stuff and feel what happens.

Mystic Michael

Since you're apparently prepared to completely ignore the requirements of the U.S. Constitution - or more likely, you haven't a clue as to what it actually states - it seems to me that I'm not the one who "wants a lawless society": It's you. News flash, Einstein: Criminals actually DO have rights, just as you and I do. It's not a question of "wanting to give" them rights: They already have rights - whether you're able to grasp that, or not.

"Wimp" is exactly the kind of cretinous cheap shot that Fascist bullies the world over have been so fond of using to put down anyone who doesn't share their contempt for civil liberties and the rule of law - and apparently their blood lust as well. By that reckoning, I should consider myself to be in very good company indeed.

Try to wrap your head around this one abstract concept - if you'll just stop beating your chest for a moment: Justice isn't something to be determined according to anyone's personal, subjective notions - no matter how strongly you believe in them. In order to function fairly and justly for all, justice must be founded on an explicit set of values and principles that don't discriminate - on the basis of race, class, sex, income, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or political persuasion. And one of the most fundamental of those principles is respect for due process of law. If it attempts to play favorites, then it ceases to be justice at all. In which case, today's persecutor could very well become tomorrow's victim.

Now just ponder on that for awhile - if you can.

owell

M&M thank you for covering that.

skyking007

Straightjacket: Michael Brown was stopped for walking in the street. Officer Wilson did not know about the cigar incident. Even if Wilson was struck by Brown and justifiable shot at the car, the other shots including the one to the top of Brown's head were un-necessary. If Michael Brown had a gun I would be backing the Officer, but the only Gun was the one used to kill a person with His hands up.

Straightjacket

Wait I don't want to be shot hum what can "I" do to prevent it?
1. Don't steal things from other people.
2. Don't assault innocent people.
3. Don't perform threatening gestures at people.
4. Listen and obey police requests.
Wow seems fairly easy to avoid a lead injection. People who get on the wrong end of an officers gun have made many wrong descision leading up to that momment. Why look at the end result without considering what led up to, the officer didn't shoot a boy that listened to his request and obeyed according, Brown is responsible for what happened. He and he alone failed at least four simple choices that day. I stand with the officers, police are not the problem in this case. Why don't people understand there are consequences for their actions. Steal a horse, get hung, nearest tree will do.

Grassyass

True dat! Good advice for anyone Straightjacket. You can lead a horse to water, but only a smart horse will drink it. The stupid horse will die of thirst.

bl494

Sorry, but this is just not right!

3 WH officials will attend Brown funeral Monday, 0 WH officials attended Greene's funeral on August 16th

No one from the White House showed up for the funeral of Major General Harold Greene:
The highest ranking officer to be killed in combat since Vietnam had his funeral on Thursday. The President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense chose not to attend. To make matter’s worse the president was golfing at the time of the funeral.

Grassyass

You said it bl494! Nor did anyone from the White House attend the memorial service of ambassador Chris Stevens. This is a DISGRACE, but what do you expect from the BHO White House? What a bunch of clowns.

Lanivan

To the genius's posting here (MM excluded, because, well, he actually is):

Barack Obama has taken far fewer vacations days than some of his predecessors. One must wonder?.....Is it the fact that Obama golfs during his vacations - (a sport most often enjoyed by white people) - or because you think he does not deserve a vacation, unlike Congress, which has taken 239 days off, working only a total of 126? Or both? Hypocrites!

"During his eight-year presidency, [George W.] Bush did take 879 days of vacation, including 77 trips to his Texas ranch. So far, Obama has taken about 150 days off.

There seems to be no correlation between vacation days and a president’s legacy. No modern president took less vacation than Jimmy Carter (79 days), while Ronald Reagan spent 335 days at his beloved California ranch. President John F. Kennedy spent nearly every weekend of his shortened presidency at one of his family’s several properties. FDR made 134 trips to Hyde Park and spent an additional six months of his presidency in Warm Springs, Ga., where he treated symptoms of his polio."

As for not attending Gen Greene's funeral: Here's something to occupy yourself with.....How about researching the deaths of the 161 Marines horribly killed in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983 during Reagan. Or the 87 deaths of American embassy and military staff killed in the 39 attacks on American embassies during the Bush years.

Please. Inform us of how many times Reagan and Bush took time off their vacations to attend the funerals of these highly-valued Americans.

Oh - and that bit about Obama not attending the Michael Brown funeral? Oh please!!! Had he attended, this would have been the title:

"Obama scores shameful political points, trying to bolster his failing presidency by showing up at the funeral of a 18 year old unarmed black boy punk who grabbed a handful of Swisher Sweets off the shelf on his way out the door and was gunned down with a minimum of 6 bullets and left to lay for 4 hours in a pool of blood, and who deserved every bullet and more".

Grassyass

Who said anything about BHO's vacations? Are you still drunk from your garage party last night?

Do you windy people really think that anyone reads your 10 paragraphs? Not likely. Blah, blah, blah. Hot air, blah.

Lanivan

You're quite the sassyass, Grassyass. "Who said anything about BHO's vacations?".....I did! Apparently you ARE reading me despite your blah, blahing!

I know it's tough reading accurate facts and figures when you have your highly opinionated story and you're sticking to it.

I haven't been drunk since 1979. You? (It's a good thing you don't like garage parties - your name is not on the list.)

Barry Soetoro

You had a garage party last night????

Grassyass

Not me honey. I'm a big girl. I get to party in the house!

Barry Soetoro

Sweet! I love big girls!

Lanivan

No - Did you get an invitation?

owell

You ok Lani?

Lanivan

Although I appreciate your concern, why do you ask?

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