Obama: These Eric Garner protests are necessary

Via the Free Beacon, a snippet from his damage-control session last night with BET, obviously designed to rebuild some of the goodwill he’s lost with black voters over the last few months. Noah has a post coming on race relations in the Obama era but here’s an appetizer from Pew. Note the recent decline among blacks:


What’s driving that 16-point drop? Probably not any single explanation, but at least part of it is the perception that Obama seems too disengaged on this subject (e.g., declining to visit Ferguson) than some people would like. That’s what makes his line here about how “power concedes nothing without a fight” so inadvertently funny: Here’s the most powerful man in the world, who could talk about race and police practices through an unmatched media megaphone every day if he wanted to, suddenly reverting to community-organizer-speak to portray himself as somehow on the other side of the establishment he leads. One flawed but obvious question that must have occurred to some voters watching him admit that the protests are “necessary” was why they’re still necessary six years into a presidency that promised to transform America, particularly in matters of race.

In reality, despite endless pleading from media sycophants, talking about race is something that Obama (wisely) does only very sparingly, and almost always when he’s in some sort of political trouble that only a bit of pandering will solve. That habit goes back to his first campaign, when he stayed away from speaking at length about the subject until the Jeremiah Wright thing blew up and he needed a way to defuse it. The result was his speech on race. He gave statements after the George Zimmerman verdict and the grand jury’s non-indictment in Ferguson but that was unavoidable given the public attention to those cases. If he declined to speak, it would have been treated by lefties as a total abdication of his office as designated SJW-in-chief. They were trips to the dentist that he couldn’t avoid. He learned early, certainly by the time of the “police acted stupidly” episode involving Henry Louis Gates, that him wading publicly into racial morasses only added an extra partisan bitterness to an already bitter stew. Headaches for him and for everyone else involved. Why not just lie low? So that’s what he does. Usually.

Not last night, though. Partly, as noted, that’s because he’s in a spot right now with his base and probably worries that if he lies too low while people are protesting across the country, his legacy as the first black president will suffer for it. But there’s another reason: After the Eric Garner non-indictment, it’s safer than usual for him to tackle this topic. Another data point from Pew:


Garner’s different than most racial clusterfarks in that black and white opinion lines up to a greater extent than usual. Which makes me wonder: If the Staten Island grand jury had indicted the NYPD officer in the Garner case, leaving the Michael Brown shooting as the protesters’ sole casus belli, would Obama still have given this interview? Especially with Democrats hemorrhaging white voters, including the white millennials who helped hand the White House to them twice in the past six years? Hmmm.

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