Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cohen: A Teachable Moment Missed

In asserting "The president seems lost," WaPo's Richard Cohen appears a little lost himself. He suggests the president could have handled the Henry Gates "The Cambridge police acted stupidly" "teachable moment" better. No doubt, it wasn't Obama's finest moment. But here's Cohen's suggestion:
For this teachable moment, Obama might have recalled an incident out of his own past when, perchance, he was racially profiled -- stopped, frisked or something for being a black man, particularly a young black man. He might have recounted an anecdote that offered us all a glimmer of what it is like to wear your skin color -- but not your two Ivy League degrees, book contract, etc. -- on your face so that you feel the opprobrium and suspicion of police officers and the averted glance of trembling white ladies. No. He did nothing of the sort.
No, he didn't. And it isn't hard to imagine why. He would have been ridiculed unmercifully and rightly so.

Obama was supposed to help lead the country into our long-sought "post-racial" era. For him to carp about being questioned by a white police officer two decades ago or being the victim of a "trembling" white woman who refused to make eye-contact, would have been a disaster for him and his administration.

He would have been seen as taking sides with the racialist Gates, who acted both stupidly and arrogantly when asked for ID by Cambridge police at his home. Doing what Cohen suggests, would have made Obama look weak and silly. And it would have repulsed at least 70 percent of the country. Not because they're racists but because they are tired of this sort of racial whining. He didn't do it during the campaign, he should start now?

Obama made a mistake (a telling mistake but a mistake all the same) in spouting off about a situation about which he didn't know all the facts. He ended up with a pie in face. From there he and his advisers handled the fallout as best they could. The conciliatory White House beer session (VP Joe Biden was brought in to add racial balance to the photo op) was about the best they could do.

It is simply amazing that a man who has been around and written about politics as long as Cohen has could be so stunningly tone deaf. Maybe it's living and working in that liberal bubble that so many Washington D.C. find so comfortable. Whatever it is, it's a good thing for Obama he doesn't listen to old white liberals like Cohen. He has enough problems right now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone remembers the story that Jesse Jackson told about the time that he was walking down a quiet street and heard footsteps behind him and felt fear until he looked back and saw that it was a white man. No one could have told that same story even if it were a true experence unless one were black. We no longer are allowed to speak negatively about crime if it involves a race issue---remember when we were allowed free speach in this country? Stiffling opinion is a dangerous thing because some will go further in bringing about another conclusion to there pent up feelings and this could be dangerous. Our Forefathers new this and that's why there is a first amendment.

August 26, 2009 at 9:51 AM 

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