Behar: Bush Admin ‘Did Not Give a Damn About Poor People and Everybody Knows It’

On Thursday’s The View on ABC, as the group hosted former USDA official Shirley Sherrod to talk about her experience of being fired by the Obama administration, after co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck got her to address comments she had made before the NAACP in which she accused Republicans of challenging President Obama on health care reform because he is black, co-host Joy Behar went on a tirade charging that the Bush administration "did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it," and suggested that President Bush was also indifferent to the black population as she declared that Obama "does give a damn about black people." Behar:

But I wanted to support what Shirley said before, which is that during the Bush administration, you had tax cuts for the wealthiest, and he did not, that whole administration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. That's why Obama was elected in the first place. I mean, even now, the Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment insurance, and yet they're okay with tax cuts to the wealthy. Let me finish! So, now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people.

Hasselbeck challenged Behar as she shot back: "Is it black-white or is it rich-poor? Which is it? Be honest if it's black-white or is it rich-poor?" and soon added, "Well, then, it is about race. I mean, we're supposed to be post-racial here, but really we're not."

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg dismissed the idea that America is "post-racial" as a result of President Obama’s election, adding, "But the truth is, this is the first time these issues of race have ever come up in this way because there has never been a black President before, so people are now trying to figure out how they feel, how they deal, how they talk. This is a new world for us."

Behar responded: "A lot of people would like that to have never happened."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, July 22, The View on ABC:

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: There’s another bit from your speech that’s actually raising some – a second wave of controversy. I want to give you a chance to kind of address that and get ahead of it. This is the end part of your speech, so take a listen.

SHIRLEY SHERROD CLIP #1: I haven’t seen such a meanspirited people as I’ve seen lately over this issue of health care.

SHERROD CLIP #2: Now we endured eight years of the Bushes, and we didn’t do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President.

HASSELBECK: So, when some people hear that, they’re now thinking, "Well, what about that epiphany? Where’s the epiphany of ‘It’s not about color, it’s not about race’?" What do you then say?

SHERROD: You know, why is it that there is such opposition to something that is so important? Again, I’m coming at it from the angle of poor people. People need health care.

HASSELBECK: But in that quote, wait, but in that quote, and I hear you because I listened to the entire speech and I read the entire transcript and I do think that’s your message, but when someone listens to that, they’re thinking, "Well, listen, it’s back to black and white. Why did we have to get there?" Also, because being a civil servant, are you not allowed to have such a partisan opinion? I thought, that was, yeah, I thought that was not okay.

SHERROD: White people need – poor white people need health care, too.

HASSELBECK: Absolutely.

SHERROD: You know, so I wasn’t talking about health care for just black people. I’m talking about health care for poor people. I know what happens to folks who don’t get a chance to go to doctors. I know what’s happening to hospitals and their emergency rooms with all of the load of dealing with the person after it’s too late, you know.

ALI WENTWORTH: It’s too bad, and I know we’re going to come back and talk to you more. It’s too bad that everything has to immediately take the road of racism and not poverty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

...

HASSELBECK: We had just shown a clip where, the tail end of it, you say, "We endured eight years of the Bushes and we didn’t do the stuff these Republicans are doing because we have a black President." Second part of my question was: Doesn’t the Hatch Act prohibit civil servants from making partisan and political statements? So isn’t that reason enough to look into, okay, is this something even legal going on, you know?

SHERROD: You know, maybe the Hatch Act would have been meant only for me because I don’t know of any government official who was gagged, especially during the Bush administration, and kept from being able to speak out.

HASSELBECK: That’s a fair response ... (INAUDIBLE) ... something that’s loosely followed.

JOY BEHAR: But I wanted to support what Shirley said before, which is that during the Bush administration, you had tax cuts for the wealthiest, and he did not, that whole administration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. That’s why Obama was elected in the first place. I mean, even now, the Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment insurance, and yet they’re okay with tax cuts to the wealthy. Let me finish! So, now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people.

HASSELBECK: Is it black-white or is it rich-poor? Which is it? Be honest if it’s black-white or is it rich-poor?

BEHAR: A lot of people ... (INAUDIBLE) ... poor because they were black.

WENTWORTH: Exactly, exactly.

HASSELBECK: I understand that, too. I’m saying-

BEHAR: And that’s why Obama ... (INAUDIBLE) ...

HASSELBECK: Well, then, it is about race. I mean, we’re supposed to be post-racial here, but really we’re not.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: There is no post-racial yet. This was a media idea that sounded great, it sounded wonderful. But the truth is, this is the first time these issues of race have ever come up in this way because there has never been a black President before, so people are now trying to figure out how they feel, how they deal, how they talk. This is a new world for us.

BEHAR: A lot of people would like that to have never happened.