Unrest Over Race Is Testing Obama’s Legacy

White House advisers say that addressing the nation’s racial conflicts is now an imperative for the president’s final years in office.

Comments: 227

  1. Sadly, President Obama cannot win. Gas prices are at there lowest in years and yet he gets no credit. Unemployment is at its lowest in years and yet he gets no credit. He pushed through Universal Health Insurance, an idea first envisioned in the Nixon administration, and yet he gets no credit. He has risen to the most powerful position in the world and yet black Americans don't think he is doing enough on race relations. If this guy found a cure for cancer he would be blamed for not finding it sooner. The people of the United States have shown so little respect for the office of President that it personally makes me sick.

  2. tell me, why should he get credit for gas prices being low? It's the market over supply that is responsible for that, via fracking oil and nat gas which was planned out and executed by Bush Jr. back in 2001/2 with Congress passing laws to make development of fracking oil/gas easier.. Obama had nothing to do with it.. he can claim the fame along with Bush for our deficit, along with many poor /middle class lives ruined.

  3. And I ask, "Why should President Clinton get credit for the economic boom during his administration? Why should President Reagan get credit for the economic boom during his administration?" Both presidents decreased regulations which eventually pushed our country into a depression eight years ago. Let the banks and corporations do what they want and see who comes out ahead.

  4. Unfortunately, President Obama is one of those people who is better at doing than at telling people what he's done. He's just too cerebral, principled, and reticent to reach the general public. Meanwhile, the Republicans hurl accusation after accusation, and the press goes wild over the smallest failing, e.g., going frantic over the ACA rollout problems and ebola while ignoring the successes (ACA massively successful and where exactly are all the ebola cases here?). I think he's one of those presidents who, like Harry Truman, will be treated better by history than he was by the public when he was in office.

    How's this for a month of screaming headlines:

    ACA A RIP-ROARING SUCCESS DESPITE OBSTRUCTION ATTEMPTS

    CDC EBOLA PREPARATIONS SUCCESSFUL, COUNTRY REMAINS EBOLA FREE

    (sigh)

  5. Amazing. This was supposed to be the first "post-racial" presidency. News Flash: race relations are actually worse now than they were in the '60s (the 1860s).

  6. You were there in the 60's Jeff? This is bad but that was far, far worse. Look into it when you can and you will be amazed.

  7. Oh, ah, I see what you did there. Sooo funny. Or something. Lemme guess - you are white and Southern.

    No one expected racists to instantly love all races and look to the content of one's character the moment Obama was inaugurated. In fact, anyone with half a grasp of reality expected the haters and ignorant supremacists to explode out of the shadows in idiotic outrage. Shine the light and the cockroaches always scurry. Those of us who elected Obama in the first place have had enough, though. We will win this round. Haters will continue to hate, but they will have no legal authority to discriminate. The arc of justice is bending.

  8. If you can't discriminate, I guess that's the end of "affirmative action."

  9. I find whenever that weak waffling figure that showed up at the first Obama/Romney debate presidnt Obama loses big time. When he transforms into the self assured and confident figure that stared back at Romney with resolve and with command of the situation (during the second and 3rd debate) this was the Obama that won a huge percentage of the electoral vote and also win 3 million more votes than Romney. We need the Obama of debate 2 and 3 to show himself on this issue right now. I am convinced that if he speaks with authority on the issue he will win over a much larger percentage of even the white population than he expects.

  10. It's sad that he is disappointing young idealists, just as he has disappointed those who are old enough to be their parents, but not a surprise to anyone. He's part of the problem.

    "Change" can happen without him.

  11. Why would you think he has not "won over" the white population. I am a Christian, I am white and I helped him win both times with my vote. I have no racist attitude, but sounds like you may.
    This man is President, His job is to do what he believes is right for all citizens in America - this includes police, fire, arm services, etc. He has acknowledged at times racial inequality has occurred and also said at time it has not. This is why he said "the country" meaning, all cities should look at and review their protocols when it comes to matters such as Ferguson. The Grand Jury deliberated and found the situation in Ferguson blameless. Nonetheless, the office quit his job over it.
    It would be inappropriate for the President do stand on either side of this issue, just like it would be inappropriate for a white President to stand behind a group of skin heads if a black officer were involved in an altercation (like Ferguson) involving them and one died.
    Get some perspective on his job, and how dangerous and difficult the job of a Police officer is.
    I will reply no more to this since I think my comments are pretty clearly stated.

  12. Change will happen without the President, and may be called in retrospect, how Americans jumped from the frying-pan into the fire.

  13. What a dreadful crucible history has put this man in. NO ONE can EVER know what he has been through. And there are more than two years to go before his successor is inaugurated. Thank any god you have that he is strong.

  14. It is a stain on this country, the way this man has been treated. I am ashamed for it.

  15. It is a moral blight on the character of Americans, one of the greatest in our history in contemporary times, and it may impact on us some day in a way that we can not foresee.

  16. The President needs to call a meeting with law enforcement leaders. Let them ventilate as did these young people. Everyone is afraid of each other. Leadership calls for the leader of All the people to listen, deliberate and take action. I have my own fears that many in our elected Congress secretly enjoy his dilemma as a black man. Many clearly dislike, even hate him including sitting Supreme Court members and he knows their names. Appeal to justice and fairness like Dr. King and Lincon did and would do at this most difficult time. That is about all he really can do, appeal to the better angels of our nature.

  17. What legacy is the Times talking about? Are they talking about the President who decided to execute an American without a trial? The President who's administration ran the most aggressive data collection operation and arguably violated the constitutional rights of every American? The President who spoke about bi-partisanship and rammed a flawed healthcare law through Congress with a party-line vote? The President who, after 6 years, still can't work with Congress effectively?

    Or are you talking about the rhetorician who wowed the Democrats with his silver tongue, then fell back to Earth after being unable to master the quotidian details of normal life?

  18. You left out some bits:
    Repealed DADT
    Insured millions and counting. My friend is alive today because of his *flawed* law.
    Implemented financial and credit protections.
    Saved US auto.
    Lowered the cost of student loans.
    Added 10,000,000 jobs and counting.
    Record stock market.
    Refuses to cave on climate change - signed climate deal with China
    Immigration reform by exec action.
    Net neutrality (this is big).
    Energy independence coming through investments in green tech.
    Sending a man to Mars, and launched first test run last Friday.
    Instructed DEA to let states legalize weed.

    He should be on Rushmore from half that list, and would be if he was a white Republican.

    He still can't work with congress effectively? Ghandi couldn't work with this congress.

  19. This is the only comment (except mine, of course) that is factually on the money and that should lead us all to wonder why, in the name of everything holy, does the White house not better promote these crucial accomplishments.

  20. Manny,Manny,Manny...
    Sigh.. have you forgotten Mitch McConnell's pledge to make him a one-term president? Has it slipped your mind how the Republicans refused to work for consensus in anything? How they took every opportunity to disrespect him and snidely snicker to each other as the President attempted to remain above it all? Geeze, Manny, what kind of success can you expect in light of how they hectored him and yet, and yet, we have an affordable health care act, a dead Osama bin Laden, job growth, economic recovery, environmental progress--all despite the powerful lobbying by the NRA, private interest groups and wealthy brothers who shall not be named. Bush and his cohorts left a big steaming mess behind and then, wonder of wonders, a miracle! A black...wait for it, Democrat, comes along and the chance to transfer blame presents itself. There is a God! Bush becomes an artist, Chaney gets a new heart, Iraq is a "flourishing democracy," bigotry becomes an acceptable political philosophy( Lyndon, where are you?) and Barak aka Job, has to navigate through these locusts. Aha, even a biblical allusion!! Life is good now huh, Manny? Oh, wait, Republicans have to 'put up or shut up now that they, through the wisdom of the electorate, are a majority. Hmmmm..hope that works out for ya'.

  21. Is there a reason the NYT cannot report a story involving the WH without the use of the word "legacy"? Exactly what is this legacy thing and why was it not present when he took office? Is it in a part of the constitution not found in any copy I have ever seen?

    Or should I ask, what will the legacy of Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear be as a result of their reporting on the "testing" of Obama's legacy? If they use "nuance" and "legacy" in the same sentence will they receive a Pulitzer Prize, or, the power to time travel?

    Do gossip and speculation become in depth reporting by invoking legacy, perhaps by passing through a worm hole into a deeper reality? Is it like Bush being a legacy Yalie and Harvardee, the legacy bestows superpowers even on the third rate? Can Khomeini be teusted with use of the word, or must we bar Iran from its use?

  22. What does President Obama's background have in common with that of African-Americans? If anything, Michele Obama has much more in common.
    Calling him "the first black president of the United States" is misleading and skews the argument.

  23. More "parsing" of President Obama's race. Where have we seen this before?

  24. President Obama's mother was white. His grandparents who took a great part in bringing him up were white. We don't know what impact that has had on his life or what it would have on anyone's life in his position.

    Give him a break. What do people expect - that he's going to get out in the streets and protest? Let's get serious now.

    This man has his plate full. He's addressed this issue and has given directives. He has Eric Holder involved for legal sense. Now let us let him be President of the United States, not be responsible for a whole new Civil Rights movement.


  25. These young, black activists are expecting something from the President their own local leaders have not delivered for them since the civil rights era fell into disarray as a result of infighting between those who advocated violence, such as the Black Panthers, and those who preached non-violence, such as Martin Luther King. President Obama has wisely chosen not to give those who already despise him on the right more ammunition by acting out the role of the angry black activist. Doing so would ignite a backlash against him and against black people. If he had more of Bill Clinton's ability to mount a charm offensive, he could soothe these activists with talk about feeling their pain, and by oozing public empathy. But that isn't Barack Obama's style, and he knows better than to put on an act.

    No wonder the man has acid reflux. Good God. How much more behind-the-scenes suffering does President Obama have to endure in the next 2 years? I'm guessing it will be considerable. All this while he lays down a foundation for Hillary Clinton to capture the Democratic nomination. And her thanks will be to distance herself from him by criticizing his actions and inactions. Keep calm and carry on, Mr. President. Stay the course.

  26. Or he could do us all a favor and resign. No more incompetent leadership for us and no more acid reflux for him. A win win.

  27. By calling the Republicans out on their claptrap day after day, Obama is indirectly doing a ton for race relations in this country.

  28. Yep, it's clearly the repubs fault, everything and all of it. They are all racists and haters. And you are correct about the President. I too have noted how much better, "tons" better, race relations have gotten over the past 6 years. It's truly impressive.

  29. And getting a "Ton of Republicans" elected too!

  30. I think that there is no solution now. Looking at the NYT picture of poor Mr. Obama, so aged and worried since he took the office for the second time, I fear that he has been worn down by the established and consistent racisim that is still engrained in the American people. Despite all the advances post-MLK and the tremendous changes in American culture, at the heart of it all is racisim. When police encounter violaters, perpertrators, others that are in trangression of Federal/State/Local laws ... when that person is Black, the reaction is severe, whether or not the police person is white or black themselves. Until the human in as all accepts that the person on the ground is a human too we will never realize the color blindness that is needed to see that we are all citizens, not catogorized by color, creed or anyting else. There was a time when a society clearly identified persons "in violation" by physical appearance. America spent blood and treasure to stop it. It was WW2. Where is that spirit now? Where is the spirit of MLK? Why, has there been a turnaround against blacks, hispanics and and immigrants? Why has there been a closing of the ranks on the right? Who knows ... I think there is no solution now.

  31. By all means, believe that there is no solution and throw in the towel once and for all. Some of us will continue to have the courage of our convictions, and follow in the lead of our President, an exemplary man of great endurance, whose grey hair today, perhaps says more than we realize.

  32. Why civil rights continue to delude themselves, except of course that they are a poor representation of civil rights leadership that awakened this country in the 1950s-60s. Obama has hijacked the drive for black equality in America for his own needs. What presidential legacy? Go back to Dr. King, still further back, W.E.B. DuBois, or to A. Philip Randolph, or to the young men and women I protested alongside in Mississippi Freedom Summer. Yes, measure this IMPOSTER against Schwerner-Chaney-Goodman.

    Civil rights is a gravy train to ride on the wave of white guilt, not just for personal power, but to advance militarism, financial oligarchy, international Cold War planning and actual confrontation. Obama faker extraordinaire, parading as a black man as he serves admirably the goals of power located in the white community.

    And yet blacks agonize over his tepid role! Years ago, the entire civil rights community, white and black, would not have let him get to first base--a quixotic charlatan so obvious to all. Yet that community has changed, as has America, so that militarism-patriotism-wealth dominance become the order of the day. Of course Ferguson and Staten Island, light years away from a White House of Obama, Holder, Jarett, the vanguard of post-racial emptiness of moral spirit.

    I cry for Dr. King, his pacifism, his Poor People's Campaign, his anti-hegemony, his fervent wish for social justice, one I proudly marched with, and then for comparison look at where we are?

  33. This is just warmed over Obama hate wrapped in a cynical, cloying "those were the days, MLK" wrapper. You seem to forget that for his entire time in office, Obama has had to deal with institutionalized racism of another sort: the unrelenting racist Republican efforts to block his effectiveness and capacity to lead.

    So don't "cry for Dr. King." Cry for America and the racist Republican party.

  34. What are your civil rights creds? Have you seen or experienced repression US style? civil rights workers bloodied on the ground? If not, how do you judge O. on race? How compare him as first black president with genuine action there and on poverty and on world intervention against struggling peoples? It is not Repub. intransigence that has a gun to his head and makes him engage in drone assassination, in being drenched in militarism and support of Wall Street, in playing footsie with the most reprehensible forces in American life.

    Poor O., the world against him--how about rather, Judas Iscariot, the Greater Betrayer not only of blacks (along with Holder, Rice, the whole group of Black Bourgeoisie), but all socially decent people working for a wage, wanting a clean environment, tired of overwhelming military force in grinding down others. Sure, blame Republicans--the typical Democratic pattern of evasion. A person must be judged by his convictions and his record. O. has led the way in shifting America rightward. Fascism here we come.

  35. The truth of the matter is that President Bush should have spent his energy in fixing racial relationship. It may be counterintuitive at the first glance but history should bear this out. This is no different from Eisenhower's warning of the industrial-military complex, the Democratic presidents' gotten the U.S. into Vietnam, Johnson's the civil right, Nixon's going to China and Clinton's social welfare reform.

    Still not convinced? Decades ago, I was hired by an out of state consulting firm from Georgia working on a huge system. I was working alongside with a bunch of southern old good boys (and gals) They were nice people really but their rationale of electing Mayor Young was that so the latter's constituents would leave them alone to do business. Kind of cynical but true. Of course, those were the days. These days the constituents demand so much more from their politicians that the latter are squeezed by the extremists of both sides.

    The same with racial relationship. While the recent rash of police brutality accusations have been upsetting, maybe they are genuinely fearful in some instance. No, the victims don't deserve to die; but when both sides see the other side the enemy and with easy access to fire arms, both sides put on their emotional armor early on. Unless the community comes together and stop stocking up guns every time NRA stir the pot, no president can fix it, especially when both sides think the president is in the pocket of the other side

  36. I am not convinced. A few words from a president, and a problem goes away. You must be dreaming.

  37. Honestly, it's all Bush's fault. Why not Clinton? The absolute truth is that the sitting president has only aggravated racial relations. He has done everything in his power to rabble rouse from his throne. Sure wish the first black president had been a man that knew what he was doing and actually was proud of his country. Allen West comes to mind but it's not too late. Maybe some day he could become our president.

  38. Wait! You mean Democrats are still blaming Bush for (fill in blank______)?
    And especially for not fixing race relations?
    I thought that was going to be Obama's job.
    Whoops.

  39. Many police are putting their lives on the line protecting their communities. Some are racist and in many cases both the police and the community they are there to serve actually agree that their relationship is that of an occupying force. It's not clear what they want Obama to "do", but there is much that community members themselves can do. Police are hired and trained by local governments, and to be effective must nurture contacts in the community. Register. Vote in large numbers. Repeat.

  40. It just appears that the Police treat all A.A. men as potentially violent criminals, regardless of their behavior or history. Their actions fall within the law, but it is not right.

  41. Blacks are right to be disappointed and frustrated, but Obama is not a good target for their frustrations. Simply by being elected, which was not a simple achievement, Obama pushed back the envelope of what is possible for persons of color in America. Many took this as a serious challenges, at least the Tea Party's constituents did. The twenty first century's successor the the Ku Klux Klan, the Tea Party took the specter of rising black power as real and have pushed back relentlessly - to great effect. They kept unthinking Democrats on the defensive and exposed the real racism under whites' liberal veneers. Blacks' frustration and disappointment is better directed a supposedly progressive whites who failed to push back at the Tea Party and its sympathizers - and failed to back Obama when he needed their backing.

  42. You need to retire this tired trope. The tea party has nothing to do with racism, just the left saying it is. That doesn't make it so.

  43. Strong leaders don't pay attention to limitations, or over-strategize. They weigh thought and emotion and take risks. Obama is too deliberate and risk-averse to rise to the occasion here. Too much is at stake and he doesn't have the courage, I'm afraid. Which is sad; it's possible we may not see another Black president for another two or three generations. Does the president acknowledge that?

    Maureen Dowd had a good column about Ferguson over the summer, and I posted a comment that got some attention, saying the president owed it to the people of Ferguson to talk to them directly, there; and to address Black people everywhere by looking into the camera and doing it. For so many young Black men, it would be an absolute shock wave that would ripple for generations, I think: the president talked to us and witnessed our PAIN, publicly.

    For the president to say he's "everyone's president". That is a cop out to end all cop outs. He is half Black, half White. No one would fault him, in principle, (at least none of those whose opinions actually count, i.e. the non-racists), for standing behind Black people. The president should know better than most that identity isn't just about who you think you are or who you project yourself to be, it's also largely about whom you're taken to be. He's treated like and accepted as a Black man in the normal course of events; that makes him a Black man. How weird to back off from this?! Weird, I guess, if you forget that Obama is a politician.

  44. If what you say is true than Bill Clinton was our first Black President!

  45. You're 'afraid' and that one word is the most fearful of all, and will help neither the President nor any of the People to go forward in the light of the day.

  46. The President is walking a tightrope here. He is a black president in a country that has a white majority and that ties his hands. It took Nixon to go to China. Similarly, a white president would be paradoxically freer than a black one to speak out forcefully on civil rights issues.

    It's also true that these issues are not as cut and dry as partisans on either side believe. White Americans seem clueless about the treatment that black Americans receive from the police, while black Americans ignore the corrosive effect on race relations of high levels of violence and street crime among young black men, and the bizarre behavior, such as resisting arrest, wielding a weapon, or even attacking a police officer, that triggers most of these incidents. A president has an obligation to respect the presumption of innocence and due process of law. His gut may tell him that there is something wrong in a particular case, but, as the article implies, he has to keep those feelings to himself and address the issues in a more general way.

  47. I don't know how you can make the statement "while black Americans ignore the corrosive effect on race relations of high levels of violence and street crime among young black men."

    I've lived in Albany and Yonkers, NY and black communities in both cities are completely aware of the levels of violence in their communities among black men" and people speak out regularly, and organize through their churches and community groups, to work in their communities to fight the prevalence of gun violence and gangs.

    You must have a very limited experience of what goes on in black communities across the country to make such an uninformed comment. Not true and it feeds into the false sense among white people in this country that black people are only concerned about one from of violence against their young people.

    Both insulting and uniformed. Please go out and inform yourself before repeating what even more uninformed people on certain media outlets want you and the American people to believe.

  48. Interested, you're quite right about my lapse. Actually, I'm not quite as uninformed as you think -- I've heard many individual black people, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, speak of that violence and the those who commit it, often disparagingly. But somehow that doesn't often come across in what community spokesmen say (I could point to Jesse Jackson's well-known statement as an exception) and in news coverage or opinion pieces. And I should have drawn that distinction, but it's a difficult one to make, n particular because my own experience is per force anecdotal so it is hard to make generalizations.

    That being said, the problem remains -- fear of black violence and crime, and inequities, some of them consequent, in the way justice is meted out. Not to mention the irresponsible -- even crazy -- behavior of those who resist arrest or attack police officers. (I heard the other day that some young black men resist arrest because it doesn't give the cops a chance to plant evidence. I wish I could dismiss that out of hand, but from what I've seen, I can't.)

  49. Of course his approval ratings of handling race relations plummeted. As a result of very public and visible events, almost everybody in the country feels strongly one way or another. And they all would want the President to support their point of view (whether they personally like him or not). It would have been interesting to follow this up with another question: 'Do you think President Obama should have been a stronger supporter of the police force?' or 'Do you think President Obama should have supported people of his own race and condoned the police actions?'
    There is absolutely nothing Obama could have done to make this poll look any better. I for one am glad that he keeps a cool head and is a President for everyone.

  50. Well, he could have said local police forces, local officials, and local voters should work out their own problems. It's impossible for the Federal government to figure out what's actually going on in each town.

  51. Slow down hang on; what legacy as far as far as I know the last president that had a legacy was kennedy since then all presidents have had none; zip ; zero .

  52. Clearly "as far as I know" isn't very far for you, Robert B. Lyndon Johnson had a legacy of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare; Nixon the EPA; even Carter the elevation of human rights to international awareness. On the negative legacy side, Reagan left us with the destruction of equal access and fairness in media and union voices; Clinton NAFTA and the end of banking regulations; and Bush I & II with endless war in the Middle East coupled with immense economic bubbles that benefited the rich and destroyed the middle class.
    Obama's legacy at this point is the ACA and the rebuilding of the American economy after the Bush II disaster years. With 300,000 jobs created last month, and 200,000 per month during most of the past few years--compared to the loss of 700,000 per month during Dubya's last months in office--that's a hell of a good one.

  53. Wow! Robert, you really have to study your history. President Kennedy may very well have been the President with the least amount of legacy since WWII, partly because of the lack of time in office. I'll just cite a couple of examples... Johnson enacted civil rights legislation, Nixon formed the EPA, supported the Clean Air Act of 1970 and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, Reagan oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union, etc... The only true legacy of Kennedy was being assassinated in Dallas and involving us in Vietnam.

  54. I am soooo glad the president called out those young people for their complete cluelessness and sense of entitlement. They are sitting in the Oval Office talking to the President of the United States of America and whining that they don't have a voice and no one is listening to them. If that is not the best example of millennial entitlement and delusion I don't know what is.

    As a black American, I have just about had my fill of all the whining and complaining. I recently had to sit for jury duty and the amount of people who found an excuse not to serve was astounding to me. I saw several black men and women go up to the judge during the initial proceedings to explain why they could not serve. Forget that our ancestors died for this right. Forget that for years, blacks were denied fair trials because of all-white juries. Forget that even today, two almost all white grand juries continued this uniquely American tradition in choosing not to indict two white men who murdered unarmed black men. Until we as a community take our history and our legacy more seriously, we will continue on this tortured path of victimhood.

  55. Were you young once? It's ridiculous to expect young folks to have the maturity you expect. My parents thought my older siblings were crazy for demonstrating to end segregation. Both my siblings thought I was crazy for joining the Panthers --the original group in 1969. What I find frustrating is the carping by public intellectuals who do know better.

  56. As I white American with friends and acquaintances in various communities, I am consistently and painfully aware that the US doesn't give a fair chance to its black citizens. I don't think that so many African-Americans are in prison because, or just because, of the color of their skin. We have a pretty horrible history, and it's going to take all of us working together to have a chance of making up for it. Yes, black Americans need to meet their civic responsibilities: we all do. But I always acknowledge that for a black person in the US, it's still much harder than for most others. I deeply wish that this weren't the case, but I don't pretend that it's otherwise.

  57. I have great empathy for President Obama and I think he has done wonders for the US. And I fully understand his desire to be President of all the people of the US. Still, his people are dying because they are killing each other. One cannot speak of police who desire to go home to their families after their difficult task of protecting others each day without realizing that they are acting as judge and executioner explicitly "legally" murdering other Americans.

    Democrats inherently speak with soft voices but don't carry big sticks. While republicans scream with loud voices and are armed to the teeth. It is long past time for this to change.

    It is not enough to find intellectual or technological solutions to this problem. Laws need to be changed and the police HELD ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. Law enforcement, local and state politician heads across the nation should be vociferously denounced for their blatant terrorizing and murdering of their own people!!! And the Federal government must be the ultimate authority. It is not enough for activist to cry out. The voices of our leaders need to be emphatically heard - not draped in faux platitudes but in raw language that say this madness must stop. And theses voices need the follow up of ACTION against the anarchistic police/judiciary alliance.

  58. His people? The President is a man for all People, whether white, red or black, with compassion for the most poor and oppressed among us. Perhaps we are standing today too close to the picture to see this, but we can still try to take an example from Mr. Obama, and learn to stretch our mental horizons and expand our vision, flexibility of thinking, while not putting down people, but pulling them up for that is the best of the Human Condition.

  59. And if he did some kind of visible, more prominent "stand".
    We would never here the end of that either.
    From right wing media, it this point, Obama hates whites, AND blacks.


  60. President Obama is making the effort to engage the long-standing problems of race and class in the United States by speaking honestly about how difficult it is to make progress in a nation built on the economics of slavery, the genocide of Native Americans and the oppression and frequent exploitation of Mexicans, Asians and indentured Europeans. We should all revisit the speech that he made on race years ago. Our educational system needs to EMPHASIZE required American history and civics courses for all.

    Is there another recent president or presidential candidate who has spoken more thoughtfully about the thorny issues concerned with race, class and inequality in this democracy? And what became of the early rhetoric that we heard in the media about our so-called post racial society? The president is right when he states that it will take time and a SUSTAINED COMMITMENT to improve the quality of our lives and interactions as Americans. That is part of his legacy.

    President Obama is only one man and one part of our government in a nation that spans a continent. We should all be looking to members of Congress and The Supreme Court to join him in this struggle and to provide some genuine and enlightened leadership. How about our state governors and other elected officials? Do they not have a role to play in this great matter? What is the business community and Wall Street doing or saying about how they can assist with these legal, moral and ethical issues?

  61. Sounds like an Israel -Palestinian type issue but we're the land thieves. Israel at least has a legit claim. Please relinquish all your possessions and assets to your Native American tribe, and please vote for reparations so we can move forward and progress.

  62. A president alone can't not change a faulty system entirely at all.

    President Obama must have acutely felt the limitations of his power in changing the world for better when he was mired in a vorterx of political wrangling with Republicans over his key agenda at almost every turn, and he faced an intrasient Russia and an assertive China, and an insecure Middle East.

    The degree of frustration by his African American supporters over what they see as a tepid presidential response to a string of deaths of black people is a measure of their high hopes for the president, hopes that the President, as an institution, can't translate into reality at the moment.

    If President exhibited his emotions about a series of fatalities more directly, it would draw his remaining presidency, already weakened by Republican control in both chambers of Congress, into further political wrangling, making his efforts to achieve the possible in a Republicans-controlled Congress collapse.

    Of course, he could commit himself to fixing racial biases toward minorities and key flaws in the American system, but they can't be fixed during his lame-duck presidency.

    He may want to channel his efforts during his remaining year in office into attaining possible, not too lofty goals.

  63. You are correct and we, the People, have created this lame-duck presidency with no common sense and in a self-defeating way.

  64. Fact is that it is not racial discrimination that Obama will speak up loudly.

    Fact is that Obama never has spoken up loudly about anything.

    He simply has won the elections because he was an alternative to something voters did not want plus he had the better marketing.
    But apart from that he has been the role model of someone who has disappointed each and every expectation his voters and quite a larger part of the world (remember his Peace Nobel Price for thing to come when more wars came than even under his predecessor) had for him.

    Obama started out as a lame duck and he will go out on a wimp.

  65. "Why was he holding back?" Because he is a smart man. So stop "expecting something he cannot deliver as president." Stop trying to pressuree him to do something “that I cannot do, institutionally.” Read between the lines: “I’ll leave it to people to speculate on what I’m saying to myself or Michelle when we’re alone at night,” the president said. What else do you guys want him to say or do before you admit he's doing enough? Stop all this “there’s a desire to push the administration further.” Are you guys daft or what? Hear this: " the president urged the young activists to keep up the pressure on society. he had told them, “Shoot for the sky.” Perhaps he can do more after he leaves office. But for right now, he's done enough. He's black, remember?

  66. The premise that Mr. Obama could do more to side with activists in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases is a flimsy one. The fact that Mr. Obama had to remind an activist that he was sitting in the Oval Office, talking to the President of the United States, is very telling. Mr. Obama has a responsibility to ensure the rule of law. That's part of his job. And that is the fundamental problem with trying to build a movement around Brown and Garner, in a legal sense the system in both those cases worked exactly the way it was supposed to. You may not like the grand jury decisions in those cases, but only a fool would argue that court cases should be decided by activist pressure. Mr. Obama dispatched Eric Holder, the top cop in the country, to meet with Michael Brown's family. There are two federal civil rights investigations going on. Could anyone seriously want more and have the benefit of the country in mind rather than their narrow interests?

  67. What's the test? How does one get people to stop hating? They will not give up something they love.

  68. My response to the headline was why did he wait until his last two years? And why did the future of illegal immigrants receive more attention and discussion in DC, while the needs of African-Americans were never raised? Those Americans who have been trapped in the cycle of poverty for generations, ignored and forgotten until election years by those that have claimed for decades that they represent them? Too little, too late. Imagine if he had put the same fight during his terms into coming up with new plans, new programs, education, job training, birth control to help end the births to single mothers, battling the violence that occurs on a daily basis in the inner cities with drugs and gangs. But, they have remained the Invisible Poor. I worked in the cities for over twenty years. There was no fight, just words, empty platitudes. I have been a life-long liberal and it is for this reason I left the Democrats to become an Independent. Clintonomics cemented it. Yes, the Repugs could care less, but at least they're honest about it. My anger is aimed at the Democrats. The African-Americans turned out to vote in my old neighborhood for the first time in my life. It was inspiring to see. There was hope for change. But, Obama has done nothing to follow through. Until there was an uprising over police violence. We need a Reverend King. We have needed one for decades. And we need one now. Obama has not been one. I'm sorry to say, but there very little legacy to speak of.

  69. They met with the president and said their vouces were not being heard. I loved his response, "You're in the Oval Office talking with the president of the United States." I would have added, "Did you vote?"

  70. Trees everywhere.........please point me to the forest...........

    When they said their voices were not being heard, Mr. Obama replied, “You are sitting in the Oval Office, talking to the president of the United States.”

  71. Oh, of course, now it's Obama job to fix two centuries of racism. Like the bigots and haters who have attacked and vilified him since he was elected are suddenly going to be swayed? Get real.

  72. I think it's been longer than two centuries.

  73. On race President Obama is between a rock and hard place. Because he is the first black President of the United States, he must exercise some degree of impartiality on the race issue.

  74. He is no more obligated to be impartial about racial prejudice than FDR should have been expected to be noncommittal on the effects of polio and efforts to erradicate it.

  75. He represents democracy and rule of law as any president should and he should address the situation with impartiality as he has done.

  76. Mr. Obama for the next generation of people will be know only in history textbook not by true legacy but by the three words of the "first black president", that's all, and his name will be only used as a mere footnote in college's final papers. He currently hold the wrong job of his career.

  77. Race and racism remain one of the burning issues of our society. Ferguson and Saint Louis cases are vivid illustration that our society and individuals can`t solve the situation. We shouldn`t also forget about racism in everyday life...The situation must be changed!

  78. Why are we blaming the target of racism. If you think the Republicans have been trying to knock him down during his two terms for political reasons I have a bridge to sell you. His opponents are attacking him because of his race and at the same time driving others into the dark realm of racism in doing so.

  79. Obama can no more change race relations in this country than the U.S. can change tribal relations in the Middle East. It is unreasonable to expect one man to take on this centuries-old burden. It's US - the PEOPLE - who have to make decisions & take action.

  80. Please Mr. President start by talking to the parents of the young black men.
    This starts at home, not on the street or in the police station.

    Trouble starts on city streets, every situation in the new with police shootings started on a street.

    Can somebody tell me about a black boy-man shot by a cop in school, or on a college campus...or working in a store or factory or construction site?

    I work on hundreds of construction sites and see thousands of black men working with white me, I never heard of a story about a black man being shot by a cop at work.

    Also,,,he is not the first black President, he is half white.

  81. The usual suspects once again have concern of Obama's legacy over the real issues facing our society today, which was well conveyed by Rudy Giuliani recently but is scarcely ever mentioned by media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN and the like minded.

    Sadly it is in black and white, living color while their rejection is the modern day, silent code equivalence to Jim Crow laws of yester years....

  82. As Gallup found, race relations under Obama are significantly worse. This will be the case as long as the left continues to promote divisive benefits based on skin color, clearly an affront to the concept of a meritocracy the US aspires to.

  83. And the reverse of meritocracy that we currently have - how do we address that? You, your parents or grandparents never benefitted from FHA or other publically funded benefits that people of color were largely denied for decades?

    When you seek to improve the lot of those with the least, in this country that's percentage-wise disproportionately people of color. Like it or not, that's a consequence of historic racial preferences.

    In actual numbers though, the majority receiving assistance are still white.

  84. I would have said: this will be the case until the right stops its six-year temper tantrum over having a black man in the White House. GOP leaders, as well as right wing news outlets, have a lot to answer for.

  85. CS We are far from a meritocracy at the moment. We have institutionalized racism called affirmative action and many other similar programs.

  86. He would be able to "take sides" if his Justice Department brought charges in one of these cases. But it's not at all clear that that will happen. If it does not, the damage to his legacy will be worse.

  87. Obama ,may be the only person to open up open the conversation about violence in the inner cities of America. Yes, lets look at the legal process relative to police and prosecutors; and lets look at the causes of black on black violence - especially murder. Over 10 people were murder in a three day period in Newark a few weeks ago. Over 100 in less than a year. Maybe police a scared to be working in a war zone and are over reacting. Only Obama can address black on black violence without being accused of racism.

  88. Mr Obama is a great orator and there is much he can do to improve race relations. On the other hand to think that just because he has an African father and a Caucasian mother he has special powers is ridiculous

  89. No. Unrest is NOT testing Obama's legacy. The NYT is making that up. What is being tested is the character, the very soul of America. It's not Obama. It's all of us. Is it OK in America that race still raises its ugly head? Is it OK in America that certain elements twist the fact that a black man is President into something immoral? Don't lay the unrest at Obama's doorstep. Its on your doorstep, NYT, and its on the doorstep of every American.

  90. Mr. Obama is President of the United States not President of only Black citizens in the United States. He has to walk a very thin line in expressing his personal feelings against the reality of life in the USA. He's right in stating that change is incremental, but change must come in the hands of all parties, white and black.
    He is not in a position, while representing the entire country, to take sides in such an inflammatory situation, it would only exacerbate the division and lead to more violence.

  91. Obama's failing is that he somehow never manages to get credit for what he does right, or if he gets credit in the moment for something, he never gets to keep it.

    Now in his last two years we are in the doldrums where every other word out of the mouth of a journalist will be "legacy."

    Those who are saying that Obama "should have gone to the border" or "should have gone to Ferguson" are forgetting DACA and they are forgetting that Eric Holder, the attorney general, has been working long and hard behind the scenes at the Justice Department to rein in police departments and set a standard for best practices in dealing with police encounters involving crazy people, people acting out, and people in situations where hair trigger use of force may ensue.

    My local police department as been at the receiving end of such reforms and I believe these reforms are milestones in the civil rights arena and should be recognized as such.

    If Obama stood up tomorrow and said "I stand with black people" it would be read in our horrible political climate as "I don't stand with white people."

    The Obama administration had been going after the Cleveland police department long before one of its trigger finger happy cops shot a black kid holding a toy gun in a park. Which headline will endure as Obama's legacy? The reforms will outlive the theater of the thousands staging die ins and the hundreds looting. It's feel good to protest. It's leadership to use government to change police behavior.

  92. "It's feel good to protest. It's leadership to use government to change police behavior."

    No, organizing a peaceful protest, and even becoming involved in one, is a form of leadership. Unelected leadership is the kind that all people have a right to hold. One can find these kinds of leaders hiding in plain sight - at your workplace, in your schools, in your cities and towns. This kind of leadership mainly involves standing up for what is right and getting others to follow.

    The elected leadership, on the other hand, has as its duty a different kind of leadership. An example is "using government to change police behavior", just as President Obama so correctly did by putting Eric Holder out there as his delegate from the Justice Department. The elected leader uses the levers of institutional power to effect change.

  93. I think de Blasio is right on retraining, but a more concerted effort is required. Airline pilots routinely train in simulators to learn to handle those rare black swan events. Navy seals repeated train in military exercises. Likewise the police should also be training in simulated exercises more than once a year. Shooting at a firing range is not training. They need to train in life-like scenarios to blunt the human reflex of fighting to win when not needed. That would do wonders for police morale. Though it may cost a pretty penny. But arent lives of innocent victims of police chokeholds worth it?

  94. Yeah why hasn't President Obama straightened out the racism problem in America? After all there are just a few tweaks needed and the underlying crime of our nations history would be wiped clean.

  95. So we can look forward to race relations continuing to get worse?

  96. "Race relations" might worsen but police tactics and profiling problems should improve, which should tell you something.

    "Seizing on the post-Ferguson" anger serves particular groups. Real progress occurs irrespective of those groups.

    "Important groups" may factor into the race equation, but none as much as the black president and attorney general. In the end, they are the truly important ones who matter and who will effect change.

  97. "Things often get worse before they get better" To think that the current race relation issues have not been simmering for generations is naïve.
    There is much to do from all sides of the black and communities. It seems that some real initiatives are in the works,

  98. Many police are keenly aware that they are indispensable to a civilized society,therefore they may fall victim to disillusioned self concepts of invulnerability and invincibility.The high esteem of the 'profession of law enforcement is something altogether different from the 'personnel who fill the jobs as required.The highest standard are demanded for these crucial positions in American society because,as we have seen,deficient and inferior character in law enforcement officers,lead to the crisis we now face.Barack Obama couldn't be more aware of this situation than his own life illustrates.As a Biracial man in America,he couldn't be more conscious of the dichotomy of contrasting sides of the 'argument,Black and White.Caution is a must in these situations,as has been his demeanor.There Are,two sides to the problem and to overly embrace either is a nonstarter as President.The Presidency he now assumes is the biggest positive legacy indication of his future regard in the minds of Americans.They will remember that he was cautious,after they remember he was Black,the first and in the their minds,why stop now.

  99. Let's see - the FIRST Black Attorney General of the US, the SECOND Black Attorney General of the US, the first Hispanic justice on the US Supreme Court.
    The question is, do we want substantive action or do we want rhetoric?
    If you are impatient, and unfocused, like most of the American public, you will want the latter. And then you play into the hands of the Republican Party, whose game is collecting votes from the uninformed. And the unintelligent.
    Remember, after the huge economic crash caused by bad Republican policies, the US is the ONLY western economy to return to some semblance of growth.
    Yet all the Republicans shout about this President's incompetence.
    Thanks to Fox Media, we are becoming a nation of noisy, gnashing, knownothings.

  100. Testing his legacy? His legacy has already been firmly set by his actions.

    The divider-in-chief now just flames more divisions in our society, in this instance, the fires a racial divide. Just as he has:

    Between the police and those they protect
    Between the rich and the poor
    Between the middle class and the rich
    Between the government worker and civilian worker
    Between the branches of government
    Between the military and the Executive branch
    Between the IRS and the 35-40% of the country that counts itself conservative

    And the divide between the political parties that always existed in a healthy way, is now a chasm separated by outright distrust and rage.

    Obama's legacy will be how he set our country back on so many important issues that people of goodwill struggled so hard to advance.

    Obama: the divider-in-chief.

  101. Inauguration night 2009: Republican elites declare "unyielding opposition" to any Obama administration economic policies. "You lie!" shouted out at the State of the Union address directed at the POTUS.
    Divide between the political parties that always existed in a healthy way?
    Read "Gingrich and the Destruction of Congressional Expertise" by Repub Bruce Bartlett. Gingrich began the decline of our Congress from one of the great deliberative bodies in the world into the toxic institution it is today with his counsel to treat the opponents with nothing but contempt.
    This President, not without his flaws to be sure, has been shockingly rebuked by the Repub Party.
    Your list of grievances sounds like a script written by Fox or Limbaugh.

  102. The first thing Obama did was to offer health care reform...not an elective war...based not on his preference for single payer, but rather based on a conservative plan, tried and tested by a republican governor. We know how this attempt at bipartisanship was greeted by the party of the Southern Strategy. Your tidy little rant may look good to you and yours on paper, but it flies in the face of reality.

  103. Bravo!!

  104. SCOTUS with its pro-Republican business rulings and support for voter suppression and its "post racial" talk has undercut minorities in America more than any other entity. Voter suppression, supported by the Supreme Court has again reared up in America with the Republican party winning a large majority of state legislatures and passing insidious voter suppression laws. As a nation, we cannot run or hide from our racial inequalities. Looks like our minorities are rising up and we must listen. A black president did not and will not patch over our inequities. The solution is voting, but we are busy making voting more difficult.

  105. Should Officer Wilson have allowed Michael Brown to take his gun and kill him?

    Where would Brown have gone next with the gun?

    I think it's hard for Obama to join the chorus of lies about what happened and to dance to the tune of liars.

  106. I agree with you -- except the last line.

    He did join them. His speech primarily addressed the "injustice" and, while it decried the mob violence, it did so with the fewest words. The rest of the speech as much as said, and his facial expression and demeanor clearly expressed: "I'd be out there with you if I could."

  107. Yes, I was disappointed with his comment about the police needing more training. He seemed to be blaming Wilson for defending himself and for protecting those whom Brown would have targeted next if he had succeeded in getting the gun.

  108. People are obsessed with the Headlines.....What A.A. should be angry about is not racial profiling by the police, but economic disparity and all the terrible symptoms around it. A.A. income has actually dropped since the great Recession while the rest of America is recovering nicely.

    President Obama should apologize to that group of Americans who so vigorously supported him. Had Obama been a white Republican with these same circumstances, the NYT and other media would be all over the President for ignoring this minority.

  109. "For his six years in the White House, aides say, Mr. Obama has been hyperconscious that he is the president of everyone and has sought to avoid defining himself or his agenda on the basis of race."

    Since day 1, the President has been between a rock and hard place on race. After tripping up badly with the Professor Gates controversy in Cambridge, followed by the contrived "beer summit" to ostensibly mend fences between police and African Americans, Mr. Obama has seemed uncomfortable speaking out on race.

    Much of his caution may be to the ugly disrespectful tone of his opposition. They so hate him for who he is, they'd go ballistic should he push policing and prejudice as a new cause. Maybe he wants to have it both ways: not take sides but still assure protestors he's on their side.

    That he has failed so far speaks volumes to the limits of caution. While he is the President of all the people, does he fear enraging even more of the country should he suddenly turn into an activist civil rights leader?

    He began his presidency believing his election proved the color-blind progress of African Americans. Americans were "beyond race." He's ending it after 6 years of increasingly ugly discourse over how police treat blacks.

    As president he can't do much to change laws, but he does have a bully pulpit. He can speak more openly about race instead of ignoring it. And that would be a very good think for him, and his followers,

  110. "He began his presidency believing his election proved the color-blind progress of African Americans."
    I voted for Obama in 2008 not because he was black, but because I voted against McCain. Also because he seemed much different than Bush. I thought he would be a fresh breeze. What happened is that he turned out to be just another politition; I was silly to be so idealistic.

  111. Until recently I felt that great progress had been made in eliminating "race consciousness" among most adults in America over the last 50 years. This was directly attributable and traceable to the monumental civil rights efforts in America in the 50's and 60's with inspired black and white leadership that eliminated institutional desegregation in America and opened opportunity. Unfortunately, in very rapid fashion, we seem to have been thrown backwards in a way that has damaged and repolarized the American psyche. The current, politically popular one sided approach of many politicians and the media of blaming police or white privilege without also finding solutions for the poor black community to pull itself up by its own bootstraps will simply increase this polarization. There have been other underprivileged groups that have more broadly succeeded in joining the "American Dream", such as Central and Eastern Asians, Eastern Europeans and Hispanics, often without directed government efforts. In many cases, it has been self help that has been the secret. Polarizing efforts and finger pointing of people like Al Sharpton will only worsen the problem.

  112. The Southern Strategy so long employed by the political right is bearing it's bitter poison fruit. Decades of tacit approval for continued racism has allowed an underground network of hate groups to flourish, and also emboldened otherwise rational people to continue to hold their racist attitudes unchallenged. Add to that volatile mix a successful, charismatic, intelligent black man as the "boss" instead of being the subordinate or a token....and viola. A furious reaction from those who have been harboring racist attitudes all along but have never had the validity of that racist worldview challenged. Nothing upsets people as much as reality intruding on their long cherished beliefs.

  113. New York, Cincinnati, and St. Louis aren't usually considered the South.

  114. It staggers the imagination that simply because a person's skin is a different color they would be hated, be jailed for years for small infractions and killed by police at 21 times the rate of persons of another skin color.

    Historically whites (who are not actually white at all but pink to orange) have called darker peoples "primitive" and "savage." The real savage primitives are the cretins who make so much of a different color!

    Fortunately, I live in a place where you walk down the street and routinely see persons of every color and hue and racial mixture. Nobody cares.

    Now that's civilization.

  115. I went to Home Depot and found several paint sample charts where we can all find hues with creative color names that will define all of us more colorfully. I myself match a seashell pink on good days and a pigeon gray on my more challenging ones. Suggest we all do the same.

  116. As a white southerner, my views may not be credible to many of the readers of the NYT. I think both whites and minorities just don't understand how big a gap there is in the views of each about the police and justice system. I remember one instance vividly that pointed to how big a gap there is---the announcement of the OJ verdict years ago. I was sitting in an Atlanta restaurant (Applebees or something similar) at lunch with 50% of the patrons black and 50% white. When the verdict was announced (i was certain OJ would be convicted), the African Americans erupted into cheers while whites sat stunned. I quickly realized that this had nothing to do with OJ and everything to do with the view of the police by African Americans. I didn't agree with their views in this case and many others but it's very real nevertheless. President Obama may have a role to play here in addressing this gap but I suspect he is right to realize that progress will be in steps and time and not in soaring rhetoric. I am also not sure what white America can do to address this either in the short term although I would support sentencing reforms (drug related especially) and attracting more minority judges and police.

  117. You contrast the gap and use the reaction in a desegregated and evenly integrated restaurant in your example. The progress America has made is so vast, we don't even notice it anymore.

    If blacks want to riot like George Wallace is in the White House, then the country must first elect George Wallace president. As it is, Barack Obama is in the Oval Office. What on earth more can whites do to convince people that progress requires effort from blacks too?

  118. There are no countries that do not have some historical dark spots still tormenting the conscience of the people even nowadays. Facing the legacy is not easy, but it is important to do something better on the individual base, rather than making it as a political issue. What Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners can do something to the Africans is to help them more on the Ebola issue.

  119. This is an issue that President can't win. No matter what President Obama does to improve race relations, he will be pummeled by virtually everybody. I would not want to be in his shoes for one minute. Sadly actions by a a minority of folks reinforce over all misconceptions on race. The action by the white police officer on Statan Island will undo all the work of other police offers that pound a beat everyday working hard to learn his or her community and earn the respect of the residents. Just like a the black rioter pillaging a store will reinforce the misconceptions that all blacks are law breakers. We all know that these misconceptions are not true. The legacy of President Obama will be to continue hard discussions on race relations and what we as nation must do break down the walls of mutual distrust.

  120. I don't think the man mentored by Rev. Wright can possibly be the one to do that. Obama has immersed himself in racial politics. You can't unbreak the egg.

  121. "No matter what President Obama does to improve race relations, he will be pummeled by virtually everybody."

    That being the case, it's foolish to talk about what he needs to do in terms of his legacy. Better to focus on what he needs to do for the good of the country, and let his legacy take care of itself.

  122. Can we please stop nit-picking at President Obama every time someone has a beef that they aren't getting enough of his attention? As he himself said to the young people, "You are in the Oval Office, speaking to the President of the United States." That is not an invitation HE received when he himself was a community organizer in his 20s. It is in the nature of young people to want more -- but older journalists should know better, and some older people who criticize him on this issue are professional agitators, like Al Sharpton -- always in it for his own profit. I look forward to hearing much more from President Obama on these issues after his presidency. He's busy right now, still cleaning up Bush's messes.

    The whole point of community organizing is that you don't wait for someone more powerful to effect change -- you organize at the grass-roots level to change your own world. Let President Obama do what he has been doing successfully: lead a nation and the free world on the issues where you have to assert presidential power, including steps he has already taken like involving the Justice Dept in local breaches of civil rights. It's on us to repair our own local race relations. It's our responsibility, not his.

  123. This is "no win" for him. Blacks think he hasn't been vocal enough and whites think he's been vocal only when the victim is black and that he refuses to deal with the defiant criminal activity of young black men.

  124. What about the defiant criminal activity of the white men who led us into the worst recession since the Great Depression. I think Obama has been entirely clear about what he thinks of the criminal activity of young black men. I'm a lot more concerned about his lack of interest in pursuing those who destroyed the lives of millions of Americans by destroying the economy and the war criminals like Dick Cheney who have chosen to drag our national reputation through the gutter.

  125. Jim young (some) black men are no more criminally defiant than any other group soci-economically challenged people. This notion of associating criminally with "black" makes no sense. Regardless of your race being on the lower rung of society creates a greater opportunity to commit lower level and violent crimes.

  126. Barack Obama did a great thing in being elected the first AA President. But his job performance regarding black people in general especially the less privileged in particular has been abysmal.
    I am certain that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive he would be protesting President Obama’s lack of coherent vision for fixing the problem in the Black community that needs Executive Federal Leadership. Dr. King would be demanding action to fix the pervasive economic inequality that permeates from Obama’s recovery.

  127. Actually, Dr. King might have a better understanding about what one President can, and cannot do. One of the key hallmarks of getting things done, is in knowing HOW to do them. Waiting for a single President to fix 400 years of inequality in 8 years will result in more of the same.

  128. What is he supposed to do? Admonish all police while ignoring the 300 to 440 murders a year in black central cities? Murders that are overwhelmingly black on black?

    Is he supposed to ask the blacks to protest these murders just as loudly? or just beat up on cops, DA's and "the system".

    How about a little intellectual honesty about where the black deaths are really coming from?

  129. We got Obama's actual viewpoint when he said (about the potential for rioting) we must all submit to the Rule of Law. He's not about change, but he is about laws as written.

  130. The fact that both the POTUS and US Attorney General have involved themselves IS a response. The fact that both the Ferguson and NYC police departments are going to change their procedures to address their problems IS a response.

    Obviously, the claim that their voices "are not being heard" has little to do with actual responses. It's an emotional issue.

    To create an entire movement around these kinds of emotions is problematic. People are free to do so, but the real effort should be on concrete responses that will actually improve lives. These efforts should not become sidetracked or hijacked by emotional demands that can never really be met.

  131. So you think Obama handled this issue really well? What are his plans other than asking for "new sentencing guidelines" which I doubt will go anywhere at all since police are local entities. If anything he stayed back from the events; Well, other than a televised warning not to riot.

  132. K Henderson:

    Obama handled this the way he handles everything else: in a mediocre manner. The Justice Department is investigating the Ferguson PD. True, someone needs to stay on top of that to make sure it actually results in findings. Perhaps this new Attorney General has a better reputation for follow-through.

    I think the steps taken by the police departments are, actually, very good measures. When NYC Commissioner Bratton commits to something, I believe it will be done based on his past performance. I also believe they are committed to improvements in Ferguson.

    When an audience with the POTUS leaves activists wanting, it's time for them to re-examine their expectations.

  133. America is a long way from Candidate Obama's famous race speech, and just as a long way from President Obama's infamous Beer Summit at the White House between the Harvard black scholar who was arrested for entering his own house by the Cambridge white police officer who failed to recognize the most famous black professor in America.

    Whether candidate or President, Obama is long on rhetoric and symbolic gesture and short on action and result. Obama naive, Obama disengaged.

    Put frankly, what's the point of a black President if blacks are worse off today then 8 years ago, economically, socially and judicially?

    President Obama will never achieve for blacks what Lyndon Johnson (much less Abraham Lincoln) achieved for blacks, but to achieve even less than George Bush, who has quite a legacy in Africa, is simply astounding.

    One year left to accomplish something. Too bad, he had 7.

  134. For starters the President should disassociate himself from celebrities who sold drugs to their own people and who write "song" lyrics that glorify thug behavior, the objectification of women, etc.

    I find it interesting that many support The Rolling Stone article. Despite its problems, the argument goes, it points out a real problem. Those same folks give the President a pass on his questionable associations with hip hop royalty.

    Until we look at issues consistently and morally, nothing will change.

  135. Let's see, the President continues to go to Al Sharpton as his expert on race relations. What could come of that but peace and harmony?

  136. Will Sharpton be forced to pay back his $4 million in back taxes, or will he be pardoned by the President (or the IRS) because he is a black 'leader?' If he is not forced to pay, what does that say about race and racism?

  137. We all hear the word legacy by our Presidents and I am sick of it frankly. We hire our public servants whom should focus on problems right out of the gate. Where was the President 6 years ago on this issue, he should have led on this and many issues others from the beginning not just the last 2 years as a lame duck President who is looking to shine for the history books. Now is is facing his own supporters rioting and protesting across America and making everyone nervous and uneasy. Obviously President Obama has a habit of getting to the party when it's too late and the black community continues to be set back by activists who are leveraging emotions of those victims and their communities.

  138. It seems to me that if President Obama speaks out strongly on this issue he'll only give the GOP and the old white crowd yet another reason to create roadblocks. Whether that means he should or shouldn't do more, I simply don't know. But look at what's happened to our nation in the last six years, simply because he's black. He can't win either way.

  139. In broad sense Obama is an equal opportunity do nothing president. While it is not fair to expect the president to join the Fergeson protests, the Federal government is the source of many of the injustices heaped upon the African-American community and Obama has and six years to address those - before they became a political movement.

    The War on Drugs and the sentencing guidelines are a major source of racial injustice and have resulted in an outrageously disproportionate number of African-Americans in prison. The fact that the police are out of control and kill innocent folks with impunity has been known for years yet a Black President and Attorney General have not come down hard on violent cops with civil right law prosecutions.

  140. And for their next column: "Shorter Days, Cold Weather Stir Widespread Criticism of Obama's Leadership"

  141. Obama will go down in history as the president who destroy race relation for a century by blatantly favoring his black constituency over the rest of America.

  142. Who knew the CEOs of Wall Street and General Electric were black!

  143. These kind of stories about how the Obama Administration isn't leftist enough on rioters or illegal aliens are obvious media set-ups arranged with the Obama Administration to push its initiatives to the left.

  144. The Obama legacy, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  145. President Obama is no more interested in improving black American lives (witness his amnesty for illegal immigrants) than he was in improving gay American lives.

    If blacks want some forward progress in America they need to look to VP Biden (responsible for advancements in gay marriage) for leadership. Mr. Obama is too concerned with his place in history

  146. While not a huge fan of Mr. Obama his "reign" has been nothing
    less than extraordinary. Handed the keys to a car going off the cliff
    a more emotional President easily could have sunk us. He did not.

    Race relations are improving, Not getting worse. They need to improve more. The reaction to police action is just as rooted in decades of police power used
    unfairly against blacks and the poor AND the growing gap between
    the haves and have nots. Voices amplified by social media and the regular media help to create, once again, an eternal state of crisis.

    To say the President legacy is threatened is typical of our Orwellian media
    forgetting everything and focusing on the "crisis of the month". And our young
    are stuck in a feedback loop where political action vies for catchy slogans and
    ratification on social media instead of going to the voting booth.

  147. Fault Obama if you wish but it is the Republican Party that doggedly pursues the entrenched Southern Strategy. The Tea Party faction openly displays its racism without embarrassment.
    There is nothing Obama could do that would not ignite criticism and obstructionism by the Republicans, and a subsequent backlash.

  148. "The Tea Party faction openly displays its racism without embarrassment."

    Must be news to Dr. Ben Carson, former Congressman Alan West, Senator Tim Scott and Congresswoman Mia Love and other minority Republicans.

    But I fogot that, according to the Left, conservative blacks aren't really black,

  149. President Obama cannot rescue a failed presidency by exploiting and promoting racial strife over several, unrelated, predictable episodes involving police response to questionable or criminal activity. His legacy will that of a distant, ineffective chief executive unable to deliver consistent results or to confront the lunatics on the right and left.

    Race is an issue still because Mr. Obama has failed to perform generally and, most importantly, to initiate -- while he enjoyed congressional majorities -- programs and policies -- recapitalization of our transportation infrastructure, our military forces, financial reform, and wage gap closure -- delivering tangible positive impact for most citizens. Instead, he chose to stake his presidency on a crazy quilt healthcare program benefiting primarily a non-voting, low income constituency.

    We need a President of all the people with enough courage to say that most police agencies -- including the New York City Police Department -- are poorly led, need to improve performance, and will get help and to say clearly that the real victims of thug, gang, and other criminal activity are the folks who live in the neighborhoods most impacted by these criminals.

  150. Yes, the president must get in the street and march immediately. I'm sure the Secret Service has already approved this (Michael & Julie,) The press gets the show they are always demanding this black man provide for them because "legacy". Then maybe he can visit the Bundy Ranch and see how his cows and the Oath Keepers & assorted white militias are doing!

  151. The reason Obama could become the first black president is that he did NOT resemble previous black leaders who were emotionally eloquent veterans of the civil rights movement. His leading attributes -- emotional evenness, objectivity, lack of drama, steady judgment -- reassured voters that he would not be leading a civil rights crusade and thereby dividing the nation. Hence the term "post-racial." America surely isn't. But Obama sort of is.

    He has poured oil on the waters of racial conflicts. He talked down Louis Gates who probably could have won triple damages from the City of Cambridge but was persuaded to share a beer with a cop instead.

    This has given him the credibility he needs for this, America's teachable moment. He has no election looming. He can calmly take on the role of educator-in-chief about where we still fall short. Policing is one. A bigger one is mass incarceration. Still bigger is the failure of governments to, yes, protect the kinds of jobs workers with lesser skills, both white and minority, can do, and improve their compensation.

    Statistically, inborn family advantages are determinative of most people's success. Conservatives say character and effort determine outcomes, ignoring vast differences in opportunity. Obama is well-positioned to gently make the case that America can become richer, fairer and better by acknowledging opportunity disparities and, yes, their racial component.

  152. Racism will continue until we as a country are willing to treat the causes. Is there racism against Asians to the same extent as there is racism against African-Americans? If you answer NO, then you need to start to think about why that is so and try to use some of your conclusions to help to lower racism against African-Americans. As long as emotion is allowed to trump reason, the problems will remain.

  153. Actually, that answer is yes. One may call it prejudice, that is a better term, but it exists. Ask those from Vietman, China, etc. and they will tell you.

    African Americans are also prejudiced; as are whites, and all other colors of the rainbow. Actually, that is one outcome of diversity - we trust those we think are like us. Racism exists, but to a MUCH lower degree than Obama or the NYTimes want to portray. But prejudice is out there everyday - gender, race, ethinicity, religious affiliation (or non-affiliation), etc.

  154. How can the president have a legacy when his presidency isn't over yet? Further, how can something that hasn't yet begun be "tested"?

  155. If President Obama spoke openly in regard to the emotions he feels when he sees black men and boys die at the hands of white cops or white wannabe cops (in the case of Trayvon Martin) he'd be attacked even more vociferously by the rightwing ranters in the media and the wingnuts in Congress. The President is doing what he can by having the Justice Dept. review the Ferguson case. One only has to look at the reaction of the hate brigade when he spoke openly about Trayvon Martin and said that boy would have looked like his son if he had one.
    Unrest over race isn't this president's problem to solve -- it's the problem of America to solve. Racism is a disease -- the disease we brought to this nation when the first shackled black man set foot in this country -- those shackles are around the soul of the United States and even a bloody war and the passage of 149 years since that war haven't set ALL of us free.

  156. Leaders do not let possible reactions to their leadership freeze them into inaction.

  157. Urizen -- and what possible "action" can he take in regard to the racism that permeates our society and allows cops to kill black men without fear of punishment for doing same?

  158. From the article: "Mr. Obama told the group that change is 'hard and incremental,' a participant said, while reminding them that he had once been mistaken for a waiter and parking valet."

    I just want to remind people that waiters and parking valets are people too. I understand what the President was trying to say, but there's nothing wrong with being a waiter or parking attendant, nor should we be embarrassed by being mistaken for one.

  159. Right on. But nevertheless, the President revealed himself to be the limousine liberal the comment indicated him to be.

  160. It's more than race, it's diversity. Race is what we blame when blacks and whites confront one another and it ends up badly. It's the way we explain it. Economic, educational, cultural, religious diversity are all part of it. Blaming race for a situation gone awry is too simplistic. Society needs a scapegoat.
    So Mr. Obama will not be able to redeem his failed presidency redefining himself in terms of the racial injustice president. People just don't trust him or believe he is anything more than a soundbite. Although it may be politically impolite, let blacks be policed by blacks. At least, we won't have to listen to Al Sharpton anymore.

  161. Having been disappointed in Mr. Obama as he caved to the right on issue after issue, I'm not entirely surprised by his underwhelming record on the institutional racism afflicting our nation: the President has been virtually AWOL on mass incarceration of minorities, economic injustice, and the police abuses at issue here.

    But the difference is that in this case, Mr. Obama truly is trapped by circumstances.

    For one thing, as with most racial oppression, whether of blacks in Apartheid-era South Africa or Rohingya in Myanmar, a bizarre bias discounts the voices of the oppressed; i.e., Mr. Obama's race, paradoxically, works against him here.

    This is insidiously compounded by the vicious and unrelenting racism directed at Mr. Obama for six years—everything from vile "questions" about his citizenship and religion to labeling him the "foodstamp President"—a tactic that has sadly worked.

    The latter has forced the President to be hyper-vigilant on matters of race, lest he provide ammunition to race-baiters thirsting for divisive and manufactured incitement opportunities.

    Thus, the loudest calls for racial justice need to come not only from the minority youths who visited the Oval Office, but also from white Americans who stand with them.

    We need to let the President know we have his back here, that our demands for racial progress are in harmony with those of our minority fellow citizens, and that Mr. Obama's race will not be used against him or against racial justice.

    @ricfouad

  162. "Having been disappointed in Mr. Obama as he caved to the right on issue after issue,".......I wish people would cite specific examples to support their statements. The reality is that you either have the votes or you don't have the votes. And look at ASA or the immigration issue where the right has gone apoplectic accusing the President of exceeding the limits of his authority. And while were at it - local policing issues have local solutions; how about Ferguson Mo., where it has been reported that only 12% of the eligible residents bothered to vote.

  163. By definition "racial justice" cannot be justice. It is simply another form of injustice.

  164. Ric....I agree...the loudest calls for racial justice need to come not only from the minority youths....but also from white Americans who stand with them...as you say.

    A black pres pushing for civil rights gives the white right wing ammunition for their favorite accusations of racial favoritism and pandering for votes, so they say the black pres has to be pres of all the people. But the wrw are the ones playing racial favs, and pandering for votes. They never called for white presidents to be president of all the people.

    Maybe a white pres and attny general will have more freedom to act.

  165. And what was Pres Obama going to do about race?

    Nothing. What can he do?

    Blaming the GOP is about his only option but I do not see that helping the cause.

  166. Let's be clear. First, Eric Gardner was commiting a crime and was resisting arrest. Second, he did not die from being choked but from a heart condition exacerbated by a reduction of oxygen. Had he just put his hands behind his back, he would probably be alive today. Given this, I cannot imagine how anyone, especially the President, sworn to uphold the law, could take a definitive position on this case. His suggestion that a broader problem exists and needs to be addressed is appropriate. Making Gardner the poster boy for racial injustice is unfortunate. His criminal offense was minor but patently obvious and by resisting arrest, he lost his right to martyrdom.

  167. Lets be clearer, Eric Garner was not committing a crime, he had just intervened in a fight and had stopped it. He was being harassed by the police for being "known " to sell loose cigarettes. The medical examiner clearly states that Mr Garner died from his choke hold, not from his heart condition.
    if we are going to speculate - IF the police had never used a choke hold Mr Garner would be alive today.

  168. Gardner is a poster child for excessive force - 5 policmen in broad daylight should not feel the need to take this man down. But, I do agree he'd be alive if he had not resisted arrest.

    Brown was the poster child throughout the fall, and he was absolutely the wrong man to make a martyr as he was obviously more than aggressive - he was threatening and did harm. The subsequent looting, burning, and rioting have removed any sympathy I could have had, and should have removed DC's sympathy as well.

  169. Right out of the Peter King and Fox Ministry of Propaganda. The death penalty for the sale of loose cigarettes is perfectly appropriate to the lunatics on the right.

  170. Just give it up.
    An important legacy would be focusing on dramatic infrastructure improvements.

  171. The GOP will never fund infrastructure improvements as long as the democrats demand that all such work be done by union members who will then kickback most of their union dues to the democrats.

  172. Mr. Obama created this unrest and has further polarized our country. Both Ferguson and Staten Island have nothing to do with race. The administration has latched onto these events, crafted a narrative, molding it inappropriately and ruthlessly to address their long-standing agenda of bias, prejudice, racial hatred and 'white privilege'.

  173. Bertolt Brecht: “Whoever doesn’t know the truth is simply a fool, yet whoever knows the truth and calls it a lie is a criminal.”

    He's referring to you, Robert.

  174. Your comment here is the best showcase as to why this President can never win. People like yourself will always have your biased glasses on through which you look at the world and create your own narratives, however much they stretch the facts.

  175. Racism created the unrest. Of course, racists cant be expected to recognize this. And so it goes.

  176. President Obama knows full-well that racism is a major underlying factor in the harsh, scorched-earth Republican opposition to him personally. The last election just confirms the political secession of the South; and the unending series of wanton murders of black men and youth across the nation at the hands of white police only underscores the ugly racism that persists in America. As a true African-American who succeeded by being a brilliant "uniter-but-not-divider," Mr. Obama is being confronted with the issue at the core of his identity. His message of enforcing "equal justice for all" is one that he should keep using to unite the country in granting equality to black Americans at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system. As his point man, Attorney general Eric Holder, departs, its time for Mr. Obama to take the lead and use his bully pulpit in the new civil rights crusade for "simple justice."

  177. "The last election just confirms the political secession of the South"

    Is that what happened when the voters of Massachusetts and Illinois elected Republican Governors? Or when voters of Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa elected Republicans to the US Senate?

  178. Just because Obama is black it doesn't mean he can be fooled by the race argument. As president, he cannot take the side of those who break the law. Race is only the cloak under which smugglers, thieves, arsonists and murderers hide. As long they are considered heroes because they resist policemen, there is no hope.

  179. If anyone is fooled, it is you. When white men carry guns, break the law, and stand off against law officers (Cliven Bundy), all efforts are made to diffuse the situation. When black pre-teens play with toy guns in a park, the first thing the police do is gun them down.

  180. As white I have never experienced the love of the white policemen. When I see a police car in my mirror, I fear them just as much as you do. But then again, I don't carry a gun or run from them. Be smart. Call your lawyer.

  181. I think President Obama has been the subject of a level of disrespect not shown an elected official in at least my lifetime. With the rise in shock jocks and conservative radio's apparent freedom to say anything that pops into their head, which is followed by their self same "ditto heads' nodding agreement as they drive down the road, the ability of disparate views to discuss rationally solutions to universal problems, with racial tensions being one of our most longstanding and prominent ones, has disappeared. There is very much such a thing as white privilege, but it would seem that having been elected by a majority of the people, President Obama is proscribed from invoking it, discussing it or attempting to diminish it's effects. I personally long for every prominent American of conscience to stand up together with African American leaders and have a "Network" moment, saying. "We are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

  182. Whites must take the lead on dismantling racism in this country, not blacks.

  183. no, both must take the lead, together to accomplish the goal of our
    constitution wherein all men are created 'equal';

  184. Mr. Obama is the president of the United States. He must take a long, cautious view of not only racial issues, but also other flash points. No president is in control of moving parts. He can set them in motion but they can be undone without a moment's notice by events both related and unrelated. He simply cannot afford to be defined as a single-issue president as the fourth quarter of his watch begins. He will leave office having failed to accomplish all he set out to do--what president hasn't? And it's not his job to make us love one another. That's our job.

  185. There is reason to believe that the President has been addressing the topic of racial conflict, long before he was elected to Office. He knows what it is to be shunned at an early age and not only does he care about this injustice among us, but he is a pragmatist who 'listens' carefully before engaging in an opinionated foray filled with anger and bile.

    As an American, he will always be 'My President' because he inspires me to bring out my best in the most difficult of times. It is his gift to see both sides of the coin, to know them well, while standing back and not raising his voice in anger unless in the face of a deliberate act of cruelty. This takes discipline and character. Character, a word forgotten many years ago, that came to mind here recently. It is in his nature to remain contained with a sense of self-respect, while always able to stretch his mental vision on others and placing on their shoes, or walking barefoot on the harshest of embers, because he cares not only for himself but for you, me and perhaps even for his fiercest detractors, at times he may even feel a sense of shame for them.

    Although I have yet to read the memoirs of a President, it will be the ones written by Mr. Obama, and I know that it will make this American a better person in many different ways and a universal citizen.

  186. I too appreciate the equanimity of our president.

  187. Many people who are restive over race today feel that President Obama himself has been treated unfairly because of racial prejudice.

  188. Whenever President Obama speaks about race, he's accused of "race baiting" and "driving a wedge between the races". The poor guy can't win.

  189. Instead of attacking or at least criticizing Mr. Obama, why have the activists failed to picket Fraud Noise NY studios of Mr. Ailes and Mr. Murdoch? Is the narrative being told there helpful to black people? Hasn't that network played to every neo-Confederate dream over the last decade and a half? Why have they failed to sit in at the congressional home offices of the Tea Party Congress members who treat them with disdain and contempt?

    This is so typical of the left. Devour one of your own and engage in internecine war while the hard right gets stronger and laughs at you. Mr. Obama has been blamed by the wealthy hard right for everything, even matters over which he has little or no control. He has been the human pin cushion of racially tinged hate dialed up by well funded rightist propaganda flourishing on the net and on cable. Give the guy a break.

  190. Indeed, the right grows stronger while pointing the finger at Obama for perpetuating a "race war" as the left throws relentless little digs at Obama by suggesting he doesn't schmooze with republicans enough. See: right here.

  191. How is the POTUS supposed to handle a situation where "activists" are asking him to praise and stand behind a man who robbed a store, assaulted its clerk, and less than an hour later went after a police officer's gun? Unless the President wants to lose the complete support of all law enforcement entities and law abiding citizens of the country he has to extremely careful in his words and actions. As the Chief Executive of the nation it is his job to uphold the law, not to pick and chose the moments out of some misguided righteous indignation and self-aggrandizement a la Al Sharpton.

  192. If Obama wasn't racist he could actually support the police officer but that would be anathema to his tribe hence his hesitation. When caught between the tribe and the truth he is stuck. This is the legacy of the identity politics of the last 40 years. Sow the wind...

  193. Mr. Brown did not rob the store nor harm its clerk. He did however leave the store without paying for the .99 cigars he got. The video is available on NYTimes. Nor has it been confirmed Mr Brown went for the officers gun. Several witnesses testified to seeing him raise his hands in attempt to surrender. The point is we dont know what really happened but what we do know is recently we've seen a dramatic increase in African American men being killed by police. This fact is neither misguided nor righteous or indignant. The POTUS won his first term on the backs of several of these same minorities and just as the Hispanics want fairer immigration laws, it appears African American want acknowledgment of a system that has been, since the beginning our time here not in our favor.

  194. Kari, first you contradict yourself by saying that Mr. Brown did not rob the store and then saying that he left without paying for the cigars. Second, since you obviously did not see the video I will relate to you what the video evidence clearly shows, Mr. Brown yelling at the clerk behind the counter and then as the clerk runs after him Mr. Brown pushes him violently as he is exiting the store. It leaves no doubt that Mr. Brown would have gotten more violent had the clerk, who is half the size of Mr. Brown, attempted any further action. Third. Mr. Browns skin DNA was on the officers pistol. Either Mr. Brown went for the officer's pistol or the officer had the amazing hindsight to take his gun and violently scratch Mr. Brown's skin with his gun in full view of everyone so he could tell his amazing tale.

  195. Racism is a creation of white liberals, who use it any chance they have to continue to divide the races. It's part of their agenda of "divide and conquer".

  196. Because during the years of Jim Crow, when several thousand African Americans were lynched (161 in 1892 alone), the races were so harmonious..... Some of these posts would be funny if they weren't so pathetic.

  197. Many middle and working class whites already feel alienated. The Dems are about to lose a huge swathe of voters. The victims of black crimes, and there are many, will feel alienated as well. And don't throw all your police under the bus, like Mr. O did with his white grandmother, if you recall.

  198. Read this article and the President is excoriated by the left for falling short on speaking out against racism, read anything from the right and the President hates white people and is constantly "playing the race card." It is hard to believe such opposing characterizations exist for the same person.

  199. Just another Obama failure (the list is extensive, no?)

  200. As many other Americans, I feel sad over the recent injustice regarding our African American brothers and sisters. However, I was surprised to learn that the NYT would call Obama a black president (Unrest over race is testing Obama’s legacy). Therefore, the hypodescent classification “one drop of black blood makes you black” still applies in 2014? Politically correct would be calling Mr. Obama biracial, since his mother is white. It is exactly this kind of unsupervised, or better, insensitive judgment that won’t allow America to move forward progressive thinking.

  201. The perceived quality of American civilization is at risk to the outcome of this situation, including that of a mentally disturbed Black veteran who served his country and ended-up dead in a Rikers Island jail cell. The USA cannot be the world champion of freedom, equality and democracy with this kind of rot eating it out from within.

  202. I remember when he was the first "biracial" candidate. There is an interesting emotional commitment to declaring him Black.

  203. Let's get real. Suppose he were a complete stranger whom you were seeing for the first time. Would you think, 'there's a biracial man'? No, you'd identify him as black.

  204. I believe that regarding speaking out about racial conflict, President Obama is between a rock and a hard place.

    On the one hand, he's of course aware of racial inequality and the often dire consequences that exist because of it. On the other hand he believes it's necessary for people of color, like himself, to take some responsibility for the direction of their lives--like himself.

    During his commencement speech at Morehouse College in 2013, President Obama admonished black men to take care of their families and their communities . He told graduates that despite the lingering legacies of slavery and discrimination, "we've got no time for excuses." He also talked about his own life stating that while growing up he sometimes blamed his bad choices on "the world trying to keep a black man down."

    But these views fell flat with his audience. Some saying that he's been stirring up controversy with the take some responsibility message since he was a candidate in 2008. And Jessie Jackson claimed he was "talking down to black people."

    Thus, because President Obama can see the various sides of this chronic issue, he doesn't want to appear to take sides with the protestors and in so doing encourage staying stuck in the blame game when he sees the many possibilities that can come going beyond that limited view.

    It would be wise, I believe, if President Obama addressed both inequality and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. There could be no better model to do that.

  205. Excellent points. I wish African Americans who question the president would look at comments boards on suburban newspapers. I suggest the Daily Record or Asbury Park Press in NJ as a start. They would be horrified.

  206. From post-racial president to most-racial president. What a surprise.

  207. Maybe media attention should be less on legacy and more on addressing the racial unrest. The president's legacy will have plenty of time to sort itself out.

  208. This is his nature. He is Mr. No Drama Obama. He is steady, even handed, and in control. The last thing he wants to do is appear to be an angry black man raising a ruckus.

    Sometimes you have to get angry. Sometimes you have to raise a ruckus. He is trapped behind his fear of being too emotional in public, too black. He always falls back to his professorial demeanor.

    I grew up in a black area. I can say from decades of personal experience that black people are much, much more expressive of their feelings than white people. Black culture makes it easy for people to let it out and tell it like it is. White culture is all bottled up. I like to use the phrase "emotionally constipated".

    This is President Obama's dilemma. He should be outraged at the killings. He has the right to be outraged. He has chosen the path of middle ground. Sadly, I think that will prove to be a mistake.

  209. Those concerns about his perception apply to every president, not just black ones.

  210. This isn't just about Obama's legacy; it's also about the future of Liberalism in America. The riots are scaring a lot of independents and pushing them to the Right, and there's no question that the GOP will happily exploit the situation.

    Nixon became President b/c he ran on a law-and-order platform, and thanks to the disastrous Democratic convention, he easily won.

    We may see the same scenario in 2016.

  211. "Shoot for the sky."

    Some idiot will likely interpret that to mean, shoot at airplanes. Hey, what better way to get more anti-gun legislation in the works?

    This President laid the groundwork for the current situation by going to work, after his re-election, to legislatively dismantle part of the Bill of Rights.

    Thereby giving voice to the hugely erroneous assumption that the rights of the people derive from the consent of the government.

    And for most people the most immediate government presence is the police.

    Which local police forces have continued to be armed like mechanized infantry, and special operations forces, by the Federal Government during the six years of the Obama Administration.

    Why be surprised when they assume they have the arbitrary right of life and death because, uh, all rights come from the militarized-at-every-level government?

    This President is either hopelessly deluded, or possibly speaking out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously.

  212. This from a man whose mentor was Rev. Jerimiah Wright. This from a man who attended one of the most racist churches in this country. Barack Obama is the last person who should lecture anyone on race.

  213. Putting Al Sharpton on a White House advisory panel is almost as bad as Jeremiah Wright in eyes of White Southerners.

  214. There is NOTHING that Obama can do to satisfy White Southerners, nor should he try. He has nothing to prove to them. It is time for the White Southerners to stop being racists.

  215. Having either one of them as advisors is foolhardy at best in the eyes of this Northerner.

  216. No, both are insanely bad in the eyes of most Americans.

    Even this immigrant -- now a citizen -- from Canada.

    At every incident, he has sent Holder on a quest, not to discover the truth, but to vilify the police. He, himself, has over the years fanned the flames that consumed Ferguson.

  217. As Addicus Finch in "To Kill a Mocking Bird" said, to paraphrase---"In order to really understand another human being, you have to put on their skin (OR UNIFORM) and walk around in it for a long while"

  218. Nigerian and Kenyan immigrants are born with that skin, and bring it to the US when they immigrate. They, statistically speaking, outperform the average and far outperform African Americans. Same black skin, far different results. Far different values and perspective too......but of course we can't start suggesting that your own attitude and choices could possible relate to your reality, could we?

  219. I think the president has been spot on in his response - not falling in with the extreme and irrational ranting on either side of the controversy. He's been measured, rational and on the side of reason and the rule of law, as he should be.

  220. Neither the President nor the Congress nor the Supreme Court can address what ails American society. Legislation can set limits on overt behavior but it can't change hearts. The source of our travail lies written in Article One, Section 2 of our Constitution and no amount of 14th Amendment language can undo the deepest expression of white supremacy written on American hearts. According to a study cited in Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point," asking African-Americans to identify their race on SAT tests caused their scores to drop some 50 points. Racism is in the DNA code of the nation and it will ultimately result in the demise of our democratic experiment. It is written into the expected outcomes of every public and private institution. Only we the people can do something to change the situation and then only by changing ourselves. America's churches are a good place to start. Every single worshiping community across the country declares that "all are welcome," and yet the church remains one of the most segregated institutions in the country. Churches could move out of their buildings and into the communities to begin building the structures of trust and hope that provide every child in the next generation with everything they need to thrive. The United Action of Stanley Churches in North Carolina is beginning this journey toward a church and a country where all are truly welcome.

  221. Most Southern Republican whites, who believe they are religious God fearing people, hate black people and brown people. There is nothing President Obama can do to change their minds. Their minds probably won't be changed when standing at the pearly gates either. It seems they choose to ignore the Almighty when it comes to race relations.

  222. I am not saying that you are incorrect, but do you realize how prejudiced your own statement is?

  223. Beau, you have either met EVERY "southern Republican white" and have arrived at your conclusion or it's your own prejudice and bigotry talking. And I'll bet you've always considered yourself open minded.......

  224. Of course! Brown was killed in the Southern state of Missouri, a black 12 yr old in that other Southern state - Ohio, and Garner in that very Southern state - New York. Who knew that these states are inhabited by Southern Republican whites? Thanks for the revelation.

  225. This issue has haunted President Obama since his initial candidacy when he was asked, "What about the black community?". Since his powerful 2008 speech on race, he has given knowing references, such as that if he had a son, they would have looked like Treyvon Martin. But Obama does send a positive message to all of us by exemplifying dialogue, as in the "beer summit," and with an Attorney General dedicated to civil rights.

  226. It would be a wonderful thing if President Obama dedicated his energies to this issue after he leaves the White House.

  227. Please. The only blacks Obama plans on seeing after he's out of office are Tiger Woods, Jay Z and Beyonce.