It’s a long clip but the first few minutes will give you the flavor. Say this for the guy: He makes no excuses. This is an unabashed grovel, accepting personal responsibility for the decision to can her and offering his every sympathy to her for having been put through the media wringer. His explanation for why Sherrod thought the White House wanted her fired is that the supervisor who spoke to her on Monday might have told her that a WH liaison with the USDA was informed of Vilsack’s decision to fire her — and Sherrod simply misunderstood. Although of course, that wouldn’t explain why Jim Messina was high-fiving his communications team on Tuesday morning and it wouldn’t explain why Sherrod herself claimed she was told that it was fear of Glenn Beck’s reaction that spurred all this.
As for why he pulled the trigger so quickly, Vilsack claims it’s because the USDA has a long, long history of discrimination and he wanted to set a tone of zero tolerance. That does jibe with the statement he released yesterday. No word on the new job — it’s not the one she held before she was fired but rather something “unique,” and she hasn’t accepted yet — but doubtless we’ll hear more about that tonight or tomorrow. If you make it to the 12-minute mark, note that Sherrod apparently tried to give Vilsack and company a heads up in advance that this was coming but, allegedly, messed up the e-mail address. I hope that’s true; if the White House actually had time to prepare for the media storm and dropped the ball anyway, they’re even more ham-handed than I thought.