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Monday, December 7, 2009

Old School v. New School: Reed and Davis

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor, says Alabama Education Association Associate Executive Secretary and Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed is "wrong on race and leadership, again."

That was Davis' response to a column Reed wrote in the Dec. 7 edition of the Alabama School Journal."

In the column Reed criticized all of Alabama's Democratic congressmen for voting against the House version of President Obama's health care reform bill, writing "I don't know how they can fix their mouths, wag their toungues and stare voters like June Bug, Big Man, Bubba and Cooter in the face and ask them to vote for them." (This sentence prompted the Alabama GOP to ask if the aforementioned were friends of Reed's or was he stereotyping Alabamians.)

But Reed saved his harshest criticism for Davis, who represents the very diverse Seventh Congressional District. Reed wrote of Davis, "His congressional district is blacker than any congressional district in the state and poorer than any congressional district in the state, yet he was the only black congressman in the nation to oppose Obama's health care plan. Every other member in the Congressional Black Caucus voted for it."

Davis has already been criticized nationally by civil rights icon the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Jackson later backed away from his statements about Davis. On Monday, Davis responded to Reed's comments with the following statement:

“Joe Reed and I have a policy-based difference over whether HR 3962 is the best way to mend our country’s inequitable and costly health care system. Unlike Dr. Reed, I believe we can do better than an approach that could cause numerous Alabama employers to reduce their payroll or walk away from offering coverage to their employees.

"We have a much more profound difference over race and leadership. Reed believes that a public official’s race matters more than his capacity for independent judgment. He believes that a black American who holds elected office must follow a certain path or be inauthentic. Dr. Reed also believes in a shameless double standard: when his candidate for governor, Ron Sparks, denounced the House health care bill in August and refused to say whether he would even enforce a public option as governor as recently as October, Reed’s response was not outrage but silence.

"On all of this, Joe Reed is wrong. Just as he was wrong to fight to overturn the results of a legislative race in 2006 because the winner was white, and in Reed’s opinion, the wrong color for her district; just as he was wrong to stand on the floor of the Democratic convention in Denver to oppose Barack Obama even though the race was over and Hilary Clinton had graciously conceded. Just as he was wrong to urge black Alabamians to reject Barack Obama during the 2008 primary on the flimsy ground that they should appreciate America was not ready for a black President.

"I said on the night I won my congressional seat in 2002 that I would not determine my viewpoints and obligations based on race. I also vigorously reject the insinuation that there is a uniquely 'black' way of understanding an issue, and I strongly suspect that most Alabamians will as well.

"Joe Reed’s forty-two year career of public service contains much good. But his injection of race into a serious debate over public policy should offend black and white Alabamians alike, and I hope Ron Sparks will join me in denouncing such a divisive approach.”

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks


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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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