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Wag the Blog Redux: A Conversation On Race Worth Having?

Last week the Fix asked Fixistas to weigh in on President Obama's handling of an emerging storyline -- that angry protests over the summer were ignited partly over racial tensions toward the nation's first black president.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said of Obama's position: "The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin." And, in a series of network interviews yesterday, the President, too, downplayed the idea that race played any significant role in the anger directed toward him and his Administration.

Fixistas were asked to gauge what the President's strategy should be in addressing the issue. The options were:

1. Obama's willingness to downplay the idea that racism factors into the anger toward him is a missed opportunity to open up a broader dialogue on the subject.
2. Obama genuinely doesn't see race playing a part in the protests.
3. Obama is playing smart politics as a high profile public debate over race is not a winner for him.

Here's a look at the most insightful responses as culled by Post political producer Sarah Lovenheim. (No one made the argument for choosing option two.)

Option One: A conversation that this country needs to have

"Being a 'man of brown skin,' I think that this is a conversation that this country needs to have. It is the only way we will bring this to the surface, and then begin to heal. We have legislated discrimination, but we have not dealt with prejudice as a nation...I also believe that this is the wrong time for the conversation, however. Healthcare is a pretty big fish to fry....then you have immigration. Maybe this discussion could be the lead in to the immigration discussion in the future. " --emontan

Option Three: Dismiss the Distractions

"Obama wants to be remembered as a President, not as the Black President. The more race becomes an issue in his presidency the more likely the latter outcome...The most effective way he can address the race issue is by not making race an issue. His strategy seems to be to just act 'Presidential' and hope that eventually all but the most hardcore bigots will calm down and get used to the idea that presidents can be something besides old white men in much the same way John F. Kennedy approached those 50 years ago who feared having a Catholic in the White House. --Gallenod

"Obama knows that a debate about race will only cause a distraction to his policy mission. I believe he does in fact find much of his opposition to be racist. Consider his gut check reaction to the arrest of Professor Gates. I think he sees America as having a racism problem but knows that he has the potential to transform our image on race by being a great president. So for now he is trying to play the game and get stuff done." --iketheyeti

Option Four: Delegate the Dirty Work

"I'm surprised The Fix failed to include the most obvious possibility, so I'll add it here. '4. Obama knows playing the race card is distasteful, but he also knows that it will probably at least slow down the momentum of opponents of health care reform, and the White House is bordering on desperation.' So, he's delegating it to surrogates to say the distasteful things for him." --HeartlandModerateGal

By Washington Post editors  |  September 21, 2009; 2:08 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: Paterson: Doomed or Determined?

Comments

The first thing to remember is this:
If someone brings the race issue up, then it needs a discussion.

And one other thing. Think about this:
There is more to tolerance. There is acceptance.

Regards,
dePaul Consiglio

Posted by: depaulconsiglio | September 22, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less. We are still arguing about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, so I don't expect Obama's birth certificate controversy to go away anytime soon.

Posted by: JakeD | September 22, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less. We are still arguing about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, so I don't expect Obama's birth certificate controversy to go away anytime soon.

Posted by: JakeD | September 22, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

You dissemble. if there is still a "legal question" as to whether Obama is a natural-born citizen, then there is still a "legal question" as to whether every past president was a natural-born citizen.

To my knowledge, there is not a pending case in a court of law. Recently a case was dismissed in which a soldier claimed she couldn't be sent to Iraq because the president wasn't the president, or some such nonsense.

I agree that the majority of Obama's opponents are not racist, or at least are not primarily motivated by racism. But that birther crap has been thoroughly debunked, and anyone clinging to it gets a lot less credit for their other arguments in my book.

Posted by: yeswiican | September 22, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

There have been Democratic presidents far more liberal than Obama who faced none of this red-faced rage. Under Clinton and Carter nobody wept on TV with "I want my country back."

Of course it's racism. Old white men all over America are seeing their lives flash before their eyes.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 22, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

While most of this thread makes my head hurt. Gator-Ron's last point has merit.

Posted by: trep1 | September 21, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

What I am saying is alienation is the problem racism is an expression of that problem. Get government to work better and they will not be so concerned with their racism even though they still will be racists. At least that is the way I see it.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 21, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that President Obama fails to recognize the racism motivating the anger, he just doesn't want to "go there." It would be a distraction. When the time comes, when healthcare is passed and we do something about global warming and the Republicans are taking bites out of carpets over it, then he can bring it up, and I do think he has the finesse to do so.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama genuinely does not see racism as a major part of the protests. Yes many of the protesters were racists but their primary concern was their feelings of alienation. These people see government as an institution that is ineffective. The best way for Obama to deal with these people is to show that government when committed to improving peoples lives can in fact be the answer.

If government is not the solution then the wealthy will be the answer and that will mean a fascist government (not necessarily totalitarian).

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 21, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Fables are for little kids.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

God has not been "silent" throughout all of His Story (see also The Bible). Again, for those like htruman1, if you don't believe me, ask Rick Warren.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"God" is silent.

People who believe "God" expresses "His" will through the outcome of events belong where snowbama is.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

If anyone else who answers my questions wants to debate any of my posts -- including my first ones "on topic" re: Obama knowing that the VAST majority of his opponents are not racists -- just let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

yeswiican:

Of course it was God's will that Barack Obama was elected -- there's still a legal issue whether he is a "natural born citizen" though -- it was also God's will that Hitler kill 6 million Jews (Rom. 13:1-3; Col 1:16).

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample

That's a nice poem -- I felt like I was in Sunday School and up to anything.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 21, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Your father had fine taste. Great poetry like Burns' is timeless. Holy Willie is with us yet and always will be, and Burns had his number.

Posted by: nodebris | September 21, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

@nodebris: Thank you for the Robert Burns reference. My father had Burns' collected works near at hand all his life.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Anyone ever read Robert Burns poem "Holy Willie's Prayer?" An excellent exploration of religious hypocrisy. Not sure exactly what brought it to mind.

http://www.robertburns.org.uk/Assets/Poems_Songs/holy_willie.htm

Posted by: nodebris | September 21, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Jake, you already admitted that you don't pray for what you don't want.

Now you are slyly inferring that you don't want an armed attack against Obama, but you might be praying for it, and "God's will be done."

I'll give you a little time-saving tip: you can just pray "God's will be done" and leave out all the details about anesthesia and armed attacks. With the extra time you can meditate on the fact that it was God's will that Obama was elected President of the United States. And when health care reform passes, that will be God's will, too.

And like Job, you can ponder whether this is earthly punishment for you and you alone, or some sort of test of faith. Good luck with that.

Posted by: yeswiican | September 21, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm praying he doesn't survive the anesthesia.

Posted by JakeD

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

GoldAndTanzanite:

Only those who refuse to accept in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are destined to burn in hell.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

This is one of those occasions I wish I was a believing Christian so I could rest with full assurance that JakeD is destined to burn in hell.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

yeswiican:

It is not the "obverse" to pray for something only if it is God's Will -- that was my prayer as well -- please don't disparage that.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

mikeinmidland: Don't bother going there. His earlier justification for praying that G&T wouldn't survive anesthesia was just circular logic with some false humility thrown in.

The quote from Matthew is the obverse of what he's trying to justify. Poor soul--if he still has one....

Posted by: yeswiican | September 21, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

mikeinmidland:

Finally, you are catching on. For instance, Jesus is the Garden called Gethsemane "prayed" (Matthew 26:39) 'My Father, if it is possible, do not let this happen. However, I want to do the things that you desire. I choose not to do the things that I desire.'

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Who cares. He's a liar and a racist and not worth anyone's time.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Which does not necessarily mean that he's not "praying" for it. At least, according to his previous logic.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I do not want any "armed attack" on Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Jake, Margaret Thatcher once said the most depressing thing I've ever heard, "There is no such thing as society." What a proud and stupid woman.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The cold hard reality is that those of us who grew up in those areas know that racism still exists there, because we know what the code words are, and we recognize what they're trying to do.

And now they're trying to gin up armed attacks.

==

Terrorists thrive on chaos.

The GOP is reduced, literally, to a terrorist organization.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

WillSeattle:

You mean "armed attacks" like this one against a pro-life protester shot to death?

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/11/michigan.shooting/index.html

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The cold hard reality is that those of us who grew up in those areas know that racism still exists there, because we know what the code words are, and we recognize what they're trying to do.

And now they're trying to gin up armed attacks.

Posted by: WillSeattle | September 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

It is an interesting phenomenon that the response of the left half of our political spectrum to criticism and argument is often to try to shut it down. Thus President Obama in his Sept. 9 speech to a joint session of Congress told us to stop "bickering," as if principled objections to major changes in public policy were just childish obstinacy, and chastised his critics for telling "lies," employing "scare tactics" and playing "games." Unlike his predecessor, he sought to use the prestige of his office to shut criticism down.


I would submit that the president's call for an end to "bickering" and the charges of racism by some of his supporters are the natural reflex of people who are not used to hearing people disagree with them and who are determined to shut them up.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned us that there's a danger that intense rhetoric can provoke violence, and no decent person wants to see harm come to our president or other leaders. But it's interesting that the two most violent incidents at this summer's town hall meetings came when a union thug beat up a 65-year-old black conservative in Missouri and when a liberal protester bit off part of a man's finger in California.

These incidents don't justify a conclusion that all liberals are violent. But they are more evidence that American liberals, unused to hearing dissent, have an impulse to shut it down.

I guess the "do you know who I am" approach didn't work out.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget your Goldie Oldie:

"Go to hell, racist swine!"

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the "lies hate intimidation and thuggery" are at least 1% from you claiming we don't have brains and/or are incarcerated for life in mental institutions.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I got an idea, how about you justify your loony tunes viewpoint to the voters without resorting to lies, hate, intimidation, thuggery and prop[a]ganda.

==

The lies hate intimidation and thuggery are 100% from you people, showing up at political meetings with guns and shouting down the speakers.

If our ideas were so loony you'd let them fail on their own. It's because our ideas are good ones that you have rednecks show up and yell.

Now go get your afternoon meds.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Or, just wait until you log on under a FOURTH name when our gracious host bans you again.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Lotta big self-important talk for a lifer in a nuthouse.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite


Let us explore the outer limits of liberal thought. Ok, that was quick. take the rest of the week off.

I guess the racism accusations must have fallen flat and not terminated the debate before some liberal intellect leaked out.

I got an idea, how about you justify your loony tunes viewpoint to the voters without resorting to lies, hate, intimidation, thuggery and propoganda.

Oh, never mind. I already said I did not want to shut down anyone's ideas.

Kerry on.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

den put some bip bip onna boo-boo baby

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe saying someone is a "life-incarcerated mental patient" is ALSO prohibited name-calling.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Clearly you do not. therefore, according to continental rationalists (forgive the use of rational in a post about liberals) you are not a thinking being. you do not doubt that man is warming the Earth, despite ongoing cooling and solar activity. you do not doubt that surrender and appeasement will get us far in relations with our adversaries. you do not doubt that spending will solve all problems. you do not doubt that government is the answer to every problem.

==

Lotta big self-important talk for a lifer in a nuthouse.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks global warming
>>>>>>>

I thought it was cooling. no wait, change. whatever, as long as the reach of big government is extended and taxes are raised, the precise wording is irrelevant.

Only one problem, this law is also dead. the intelligence of the lawmakers having won out over the religion of the greens.

another lib idea, another failed legislative measure. Maybe you ought to stick with investigating baseball or something.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks global warming can be attributed to variation in solar activity is a complete scientific illiterate.

INSOLATION IS MEASURABLE YOU MORONS.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money."

-- Margaret Thatcher (2/5/76)

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Do you doubt?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite


Clearly you do not. therefore, according to continental rationalists (forgive the use of rational in a post about liberals) you are not a thinking being. you do not doubt that man is warming the Earth, despite ongoing cooling and solar activity. you do not doubt that surrender and appeasement will get us far in relations with our adversaries. you do not doubt that spending will solve all problems. you do not doubt that government is the answer to every problem.

sounds like an irrational religion to me. you just have to beleive. I see why you worship Cher now.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

let the leftists run things into the ground for a while.


>>>>>>>>>>>

Only one problem. In perfect bipartisan fashion, even other Democrats won't sign on to the fiscal and military suicide proposed by the extreme liberals.

but I bet simply giving another 70 or 80 speeches could fix that. and since there is nothing else in the arsenal of Obimbo, that is exactly what is going to happen. without any new result of course.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I did not think that anyone who "lowercased" GWB's title was racist swine either. Of course, I don't resort to ad hominem name-calling regardless.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

OK, CC, you admitted that no one picked Option 2. But you need to see that no one really picked Option 1, either. Or, at least, the "best" respondant who picked #1 did not think Obama was missing an opportunity. Rather, it was an important discussion that should not happen just yet.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Now all the racist dissenters can just shut up and let the leftists run things

==

Better get used to it, lifer.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

anyone who disagrees with Obama is racist. did you not get Jimmy's profound proclamation?

Now all the racist dissenters can just shut up and let the leftists run things into the ground for a while.

Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The people who are calling President Obama "Communist" or "Socialist" or "Fascist" (sic) or "Muslim" are just pulling punches. We all know the real word they're itching to call him, mmmm?

Like the ones who lowercase his title. Racist swine every one of them. Do you doubt?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The vitriolic turpitude of our society these days leaves me seriously dismayed and grieved that we actually have sunk beyond hope of recovery to a state of sanity.

One cannot reason with such emotionally barbaric lunatics.

Sadly, to have such a discussion, one must be calm, adult about it, and given to reason, not irrational shrieking and screaming.

Me thinks the question is not whether having a conversation about race is worth it, or not, but rather whether we are capable of having it, or not.

I fear the latter be so.

Posted by: rm8471 | September 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Even Obama knows that the VAST majority of his opponents are not racists.

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Darn, I knew I should have argued "Option 2".

Posted by: JakeD | September 21, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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