In his remarks yesterday to Native American leaders, the president said, “I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I’m in this White House.”
I don’t quite know what “ignored” and “forgotten” means in this particular context (apparently it was not a reference to the behavior of Obama’s absent Kenyan father or the caring custodianship of his grandparents). The president went to prep school, the elite and exorbitantly priced private Occidental College, the Ivy League’s Columbia University, and Harvard Law School, either through grants and scholarships or government-subsidized loans. In truth, American society did a great deal to ensure that Barack Obama was neither “ignored” nor “forgotten” but in fact given opportunity at the nexus of American privilege and influence.
Nor do I think (cf. the implication of Obama’s “this White House” comment) that either the Clinton or Bush White Houses “forgot” Native Americans; in fact, they actually increased spending on so-called Indian affairs and looked favorably on the multibillion-dollar Native American gaming industry.
The president has repeatedly communicated the message that various groups — African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. — have been maltreated by past generations of illiberal Americans, though not by our president, who is exempt from such sins and belongs to the “ignored” and “forgotten” victim category that is forced to “struggle.”
Politically, I think this only reminds one that the Ayers/Pfleger/Wright issues continue to resonate.