The Corner

Our Racialist President

The 2007 video, as Stanley Kurtz notes, reveals nothing new about the president. For all of Obama’s talk about there being no red America or blue America, no black America or white America, from the outset of his term, this president’s rhetoric and policies have divided Americans by race, ethnicity, and class.

The roll call of his racial bean counting would take pages to recount. From the stark racial preferences strewn throughout major pieces of legislation such as Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, to the Justice Department’s refusal to bring voting-rights cases against black defendants, to the claim that voter-ID laws are Jim Crow–like attempt to suppress the black vote, the president and his administration have all but abandoned any pretense of colorblindness. Again, no surprise coming from someone who spent two decades marinating in the inflammatory rhetoric of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

During the 2008 presidential campaign several articles were written about  how “conflicted” some black conservatives were about the upcoming election. The pull of having the first black president was powerful. John McWhorter, who has written extensively and eloquently about race in America said, “I want him to get in because, in a way, it will put me out of a job.” Joseph C. Phillips said, “I am wondering if this is the time when we get over a hump, where an Obama victory will finally, at long last, move us beyond some of the old conversations about race.” Today, McWhorter is not out of a job and, rather than having transcended race, the president emphasizes it at every turn.

Back then, I asked black conservatives whether the perceived benefits of having this black president would outweigh the manifold risks of his policies. After 43 months of 8-plus percent unemployment, plummeting household income, an imploding foreign policy, nearly $6 trillion in added debt, and looming entitlement and fiscal catastrophes, that question has been answered.

But the question for all Americans after viewing the video is whether it befits our nation to have a commander- in -chief who engages in naked racial appeals; who adopts a markedly different tone and persona depending on the racial composition of the audience; and who freely traffics in falsehoods that foster racial resentment? Although pandering may be second nature for most politicians, the sheer fraudulence on display in the 2007 video should be astonishing even for the more cynical members of the political class.

Yet perhaps surpassing even the fraudulence on display in the video is the condescension inherent in Obama’s presentation. Speaking to a black audience, the future leader of the free world engages in the type of demagoguery generally used only by speakers who believe their audiences are too ignorant to realize they’re being sold a load of (to be technical) bull. Obama, nonetheless, had no problem flinging the bull.

First black president. Been there, done that. Time to move on.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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