The Full Video
It's below all 43 minutes of it. The edited remarks start around 17 minutes in:
After watching Sherrod’s remarks in their full context, and in light of all the other information that has come out, it seems fairly clear that she was the victim of a horrible misrepresentation on the part of Breitbart, and a fairly cowardly abandonment by the powers-that-be in the Obama Administration.
Given the set of facts, it was the right call: here was a USDA employee insinuating that she once gave a white farmer less attention than a black farmer because he was white.
Except that that's not what happened, nor what Shirley Sherrod did, nor what she said. The NAACP wasn't snookered. Vilsack was snookered. It doesn't matter why he was snookered, but he was. If he doesn't reinstate her, he'll look like a jerk who refused to admit he made a mistake. If he reinstates her, he might look like a wimp to some who object to Sherrod's economic inequality argument, or who refuse to acknowledge that Andrew Breitbart selectively edited a tape, but he'll look like a guy who made a rash decision and had the judgment to reverse it.
It was one thing for the White House to encourage Sherrod's resignation based on such flimsy evidence, thereby enabling Brietbart and other media-savvy activists who are engaged in trench warfare against it. That's bad enough. But it's another thing to refuse to re-hire her. One overarching critique of some of the less successful Presidencies of the recent past is that they suffer from a bunker mentality: they were either too stubborn, or too detached from reality, to acknowledge mistakes and correct errant courses of action. Although the mistakes over Sherrod may not be of the same magnitude as, for instance, the mistakes made in the Vietnam Era, it nevertheless seems that the only reason not to re-hire is that it would involve admitting you'd screwed up in the first place.
Update: Greg Sargent quotes a White House official who claims, contrary to Sherrod's story, that the White House didn't ask for Shirley Sherrod to resign or for the USDA to fire her.