Liberals and conservatives alike have strongly denounced nearly every aspect of the Shirley Sherrod controversy, which saw the Department of Agriculture official lose her job over some selectively publicized remarks about race. Commentators have criticized the administration for acting too hastily, conservative media figure Andrew Breitbart for distorting Sherrod's original remarks--sparking the furor--and the NAACP for condemning Sherrod before getting the full story.


The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, though, sees one bright spot in this mess, and in a most surprising place: in the person of Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture. Why? Isn't he about as culpable as culpable gets? "Say what you will about Vilsack’s decision to fire Sherrod," Marcus explains. "His apology was a class act."

Vilsack's televised apology to Sherrod, Marcus writes, was an extraordinarily rare event: Vilsack didn't "hedge" or "deflect" the way "most" politicians do. He took full responsibility for Sherrod's firing and apologized profusely, emphasizing the extent of his role and what he should have done better. In "an episode in which almost no one has looked good," including Vilsack, argues Marcus, "the secretary stepped up to the plate. Repeatedly." Here's a segment of the video to which she refers: