Sen. Obama’s speech before the NAACP convention has been receiving widespread praise for forthrightly addressing hot button topics: he told the crowd that black parents need to turn off the TV, put away the video games, attend parent-teacher conferences, and help their children with their homework. The AP described the speech as “stirring.”
Not quite. By their measure, the AP presumably would declare an Obama speech on eating your vegetables and flossing daily “stirring.”
Obama’s comments were a welcome bit of common sense, but ultimately underwhelming. Had Obama’s speech addressed the issue of, say, the prolific black abortion rate — that would be worthy of notice, especially at a time when, as William McGurn noted in yesterday’s WSJ, a group of black pro-lifers were protesting the convention. To raise the issue would’ve required Obama to tackle two of the most volatile topics in American politics, the intersection of which is generally considered off-limits in public discourse (In fact , the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights, which has an impressively expansive mandate to address all policies and practices related to disparities on the basis of race, sex, and other protected classes, is specifically prohibited by statute from addressing any disparities related to abortion).
McGurn notes that black women are nearly five times as likely as whites to have an abortion. Almost half of all black pregnancies end in abortion. Whatever one’s views on abortion, those numbers aren’t something to celebrate. Raising the issue and urging solutions to lower the numbers would require a bit more political courage than telling people to do their homework. But there’s little evidence in Obama’s political career of doing anything other than the expedient.