And this is not Obama’s fault.
Obama has been governing exactly as his past would dictate. There is no reason, no justifiable reason, to believe that he would have built an administration other than exactly the one he has built in front of his.
So why are people upset? Betrayed?
Because he instilled in them hope.
He gave them hope that he could do better than those who have come before. He said it, he smiled and charmed ’em.
They had no evidence. No body of work. No demonstrable past to bring them to this conclusion. They simply “wanted” it to be so.
And wanting it to be so is not an indictment. There are many MANY examples of things that we needed to change. And this President capitalized on that hope, that sentiment.
But Obama is a unifier. He is not the man who is going to lead us, all of us, to the place we wanna go. He’s gonna separate us. By group, by income, by Union status, by anything he can to slice and dice us into the “Them” and the “We”.
Among people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, those who are likely to be most disappointed are those who thought that they were voting for a new post-racial era. There was absolutely nothing in Obama’s past to lead to any such expectation, and much to suggest the exact opposite. But the man’s rhetoric and demeanor during the election campaign enabled this and many other illusions to flourish.
Still, it was an honest mistake of the kind that decent people have often made when dealing with people whose agendas are not constrained by decency, but only by what they think they can get away with.
On race, as on other issues, different people have radically different views of Barack Obama, depending on whether they judge him by what he says or by what he does.
As Obama’s own books point out, he has for years cultivated a talent for saying things that people will find congenial.
You want bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington? He will say that he wants bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington. Then he will shut Republicans out of the decision-making process and respond to their suggestions by reminding them that he won the election. A famous writer — Ring Lardner, I believe — once wrote: “‘Shut up,’ he explained.”
You want a government that is open instead of secretive? He will say that. He will promise to post proposed legislation on the Internet long enough for everyone to read it and know what is in it before there is a vote. In practice, however, he has rushed massive bills through Congress too fast for anybody — even the members of Congress — to know what was in those bills.
Racial issues are more of the same. You want a government where all citizens are treated alike, regardless of race or ethnicity? Obama will say that. Then he will advocate appointing judges with “empathy” for particular segments of the population, such as racial minorities. “Empathy” is just a pretty word for the ugly reality of bias.
Obama’s first nomination of a Supreme Court justice was a classic example of someone with “empathy” for some racial groups, but not others. As a Circuit Court judge, Sonia Sotomayor voted to dismiss a case involving white firefighters who had been denied the promotions for which they qualified, because not enough blacks or Hispanics passed the same test that they did.
A fellow Hispanic judge protested the way the white firefighters’ case was dismissed, rather than adjudicated. Moreover, the Supreme Court not only took the case, it ruled in favor of the firefighters.
Obama’s injecting himself into a local police matter in Massachusetts, despite admitting that he didn’t know the facts, to say that a white policeman was in the wrong in arresting a black professor who was a friend of Obama, was more of the same. So is Obama’s Justice Department overlooking blatant voter intimidation by thugs who happen to be black.
There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything post-racial about Barack Obama, except for the people who voted for him in the mistaken belief that he shared their desire to be post-racial. When he leaves office, especially if it is after one term, he will leave this country more racially polarized than before.
Hopefully, he may also leave the voters wiser, though sadder, after they learn from painful experience that you can’t judge politicians by their rhetoric, or ignore their past because of your hopes for the future. Voters may even wise up to race card fraud.
I hope we wise up.