Commentary Magazine


Fifteen Minutes of Fame

It seems as though Shirley Sherrod’s has not run out yet:

Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official ousted during a racial firestorm last month, declined Tuesday to return to the agency, though she said it was tempting.

Sherrod and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that she may work with the agency in a consulting capacity in the future to help it improve its outreach to minorities. She told reporters she did not think she could say yes to a job “at this point, with all that has happened.”

“I look forward to some type of relationship with the department in the future,” she said. “We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and race in this country.”

Translation: “You gotta be nuts — go back to paper pushing at the Agriculture Department when I can get a TV gig, write a book and become a professional gadfly!?”

Nothing in this dreary story of bad behavior turned out exactly as it initially appeared. Sherrod was a racist, and then she wasn’t, and then she appeared to be merely one of many in the civil rights grievance-mongering business. The tape was stunning, and then it was misleading. The administration acted unreasonably and then, … well that part is still true. Also true is that there is a cottage industry of 15-minute stars — Joe the Plumber, Shirley Sherrod — who soon mistake attention for talent and eventually vanish from the public eye. If only it took a mere 15 minutes.