Franks: When politics and theater mix, the public loses

I cannot help but recall an incident that in its theatrics attempted to push a narrative meant to hurt one political party.

I am referring to the Jussie Smollett saga.

The actor was found guilty of orchestrating his own beating. He had hoped to show it was racially motivated and homophobic, and perpetrated by President Donald Trump’s MAGA supporters. He did this during the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign with the clear intent to hurt Republicans.

After police thoroughly investigated the incident on both sides, it became clear the beating was not what it was depicted to be. The courts then proved Smollett’s guilt and convicted him for orchestrating the entire event, down to paying his accused attackers.

Yet, candidates for president and vice president — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris respectively — were quick to side with Smollett, based on his initial story. They believed it was accurate. They sought to add fuel to the Smollett drama for their own political gain.

Fast forward to today and now President Biden and Vice President Harris have yet to personally express outrage and support for Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh after an attempt was made on his life by an armed man.

There is a law on the books preventing picketing or parading at justices’ residences.

Not protecting this institution and its judges could be a serious threat to our democracy. The Biden administration seems to see the law differently and has allowed protesters to march at the homes of Supreme Court justices.

Let us not forget that Democrats have often gotten away with doing bad things, with misdeeds swept under the rug, thanks to the liberal media.

However, Republican slips of the tongue are seized upon by the liberal media as convincing evidence of a person’s lack of sensitivity to race relations or antisemitism. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s comment about “going to make Mr. Obama a one-term president” at the start of former President Barack Obama’s first term was perhaps an acceptable statement on the campaign trail, but not on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

That example of prejudging Obama, as if to say he would fail immediately, is the classic definition of being prejudiced as far as the Black community is concerned. It is in the same category as all those bad folks who said similar things about baseball great Jackie Robinson on “day one.” He is, in their view, not capable simply on account of skin color.

As a result, Black Americans had “Obama’s back.” In 2012 they gave Obama between 97% to 98% of the vote in their community (the margin of error — plus or minus 3 points — would put Obama’s percentage near perfect). In addition, a higher percentage of registered Black people voted in 2012 than did registered white people — a national first. No political analyst saw that coming.

Words are powerful. Mistakes are made. That is why we have the word “apologize” in the dictionary. The arrogance of perfection only compounds the error.

The Jan. 6 congressional hearings have proven something very profound. They have shown that our system is working. Nobody was willing to do anything illegal to appease the wishes of anyone. And it was literally impossible for anyone to overturn the election results. Perfect. Is there really anything else to say?

Just think — had there not been security failures at the entrances of the Capitol what would these folks actually be talking about? Nothing.

Once again, who was responsible for protecting the Capitol and who was responsible for granting marching permits on the streets of Washington, D.C.?

Answer: a Democrat Speaker and Democrat Mayor, both not known for being friends of Trump. And neither of them was asked to participate in the hearings.

Politics and theater. They should not go together.

Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years and New England’s first Black member of the House. He is the host of the podcast “We Speak Frankly.” Follow him on Twitter @GaryFranks. This column was provided by Tribune News Service.

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