Barack Obama at this morning's press conference on the death of Trayvon Martin.
President Barack Obama has spoken out relatively rarely in his presidency on the big, controversial issues that dominate our headlines. In an analysis this week, the New York Times described his political strategy as a "hidden hand," saying: "While other presidents have put the bully in the bully pulpit, Mr. Obama uses his megaphone, and the power that comes with it, sparingly, speaking out when he decides his voice can shape the trajectory of an issue and staying silent when he thinks it might be counterproductive."
So it's extraordinary that Obama used his megaphone today to talk about why the Trayvon Martin case and "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman has led to such hurt and outrage across the country—and it's powerful the way he connected the politics of the case to his personal experiences with systemic racism.
Full text of the speech and more commentary is below.
If you watched the second US presidential debate last night I've got four words for you: "binders full of women." (If you didn't watch the debate, here are a few more words for you: In response to a question about equal pay for women, Romney told moderator Candy Crowley that while he was governor of Massachusetts, he sought qualified women for his administration by going to "a number of women's groups asking, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women." Yeah.)
"Finger wagging" doesn't really sum up the tense moment on the tarmac: Brewer is using her white privilege to mask her anger, in an attempt to assert power over Obama. The little power play at the Phoenix Airport speaks to the age-old stereotype of black men being seen as a threat to white women, and the fact that Jan Brewer took advantage of that earns her this week's Douchebag Decree.
I've written a few times on this blog about unfair criticism and downright racist language aimed at President Obama, in part because it's so prevalent and persistent, and in part because I believe it deflects attention from policy critiques. For a president as centrist as Barack Obama, valid criticism is necessary, especially when middle-of-the-road stances often mean compromise on the Hill. So in the interest of modeling good behavior, I have a critique of the President's latest capitulation regarding Social Security, as the debate about debt ceilings continues in Washington.
Barack Obama impersonator Reggie Brown (not to be confused with the football player) was yanked by GOP operatives at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this weekend when he came a bit too close to sensitive topics like Tim Pawlenty's backbone and the rest of the presidential field. With the grace of a roughly managed Oscar night, the music began and the helpful staff ushered him offstage. Maybe more telling than the sudden end of Brown's performance, however, was which jokes drew laughs and which a few jeers or silence. Mocking Obama's mixed race heritage—lots of laughs. Saying Barbara Bush looks like a really old George Washington—boo. My own one liner goes something like: The next best thing to defeating Obama in an election is getting to boot his impersonator off stage! Hey, I'm here all week, folks.
Information on the power of American workers' wages show stark losses in their portion of the money pie, unemployment figures took a hit in May that required explanation, and for all of the "recession is over" talk in Washington, people don't feel optimistic about their own economic outlook. In rolls the second GOP debate of the 2012 campaign. Did they capitalize on the country's bad mood? Well, kind of.