After the Obama administration announced yesterday that they would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, I did a quick survey of right-wing sites to see their reaction. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, which was mostly bloggers posting the news without commentary. I even found a supportive voice at the National Review (and I see more positive voices there today). I like to see people who aren’t known for it act well-behaved and show moral leadership. It’s nice.

It’s especially gratifying because I know this is a big fat hanging curveball. People don’t like change, and they’re particularly funny about our currency which is why we have so much difficulty getting rid of the obsolete penny. The Republican base is furious about “political correctness,” and abolishing a white president from the $20 and putting a former slave and famous abolitionist and suffragette on the bill is not something that will go down smoothly for a lot of people. How easy would it be to cater to and stoke their anger?

Unfortunately, Fox News host, Greta Van Susteren couldn’t resist the bait. She took to the air to accuse the Obama administration of being “stupid for no reason,” and creating an “unnecessary fight” by “gratuitously stir[ring] up conflict in the nation.”

“That is so awful, and yes, dumb,” she said.

Her solution was to create a new $25 bill just for Tubman, and that way everyone would have been happy.

But, of course, if you’re mad about having a black woman in your wallet, it doesn’t matter if she’s on the twenty or the twenty-five dollar note, does it?

So, Greta has earned my “No Leadership” award for the day.

She catered to the worst instincts of her audience to score cheap adoration from bigots.

Even the notoriously racist National Review didn’t go that route.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at