Believe it or not, but Sarah Palin, a white, conservative female and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate and Tavis Smiley, a progressive Africa American male and talk show host share something in common. They both recently pointed the finger of blame at President Obama. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.
At a rally endorsement of Donald Trump, Palin blamed the President for the recent arrest of her son for an incident of intoxicated domestic violence, involving an unload assault rifle. Mr. Smiley implies that the President is responsible for the downward economic spiral of African-Americans.
“Sadly it pains me to say this, over the last decade Black folk, in the era of Obama have lost ground in every major economic category, not just one but every major economic category. Because Blacks have been so caught up in the symbolism of the Obama presidency, we have been too deferential to the President,” Smiley opined. http://rollingout.com/2016/01/16/tavis-smiley-concludes-blacks-lost-ground-president-obama. Needless to say we disagree with both views.
It is not that the President is without fault. No one is. However, the Palin position is absurd on its face. The incident in question concerned her adult son and his adult girlfriend. It occurred at Palin’s home in Alaska, thousands of miles from the President and absent his knowledge, consent or involvement. How this alleged proponent of family values and personal responsibility can blame anyone else for her failure to raise her son is astounding.
As to Mr. Smiley, it is a logical fallacy to conclude that merely because the Obama Presidency and the economic deterioration of Blacks occurred simultaneously, then one caused or was caused by the other. Mr. Smiley offers nothing to establish a causal relationship between the two.
And while Obama is the President of the United States, he is not master of the universe. He does not control the world, possesses no magic wand by which to make it behave and is not ipso facto responsible for what the world brings.
Obama may be the first African-American President. But, he is not the President of African-Americans. He instead the President of and owes a duty to all Americans. His responsibility to Black Americans is neither greater nor less than to any other group.
It is of further significance that our choices in 2004 and 2008 were limited. It was either Obama or McCain/Palin in 2004 and Obama versus Romney/Ryan in 2008. Given Romneys low opinion of 47% of American citizens and Sarah Palin being one heartbeat away from the Presidency, we are persuaded that African Americas have done far better than we would have had the alternatives prevailed.
The testament of a mans worth is not what he achieves but what he overcomes. Therefore consider what the President inherited, i.e., two wars and the worst economy since the Great Depression. Ponder further that from day one Obama has been vilified and dehumanized by an opposition determined to see him fail. It is a wonder he hasnt been assassinated.
Still, in spite of it all, the President took decisive action regarding the 2007 recession and saved the automobile industry. He got Osama Bin Laden and expanded health coverage to millions of Americans. Gas prices are at record lows, unemployment is at approximately 5% and according to a report by the Center for Migration Studies, the total undocumented immigrant population of 10.9 million is the lowest since 2003. And no President has done more to correct the abuses of the criminal justice system than Barack Obama. Even if you disagree with his policies, what this President has achieved is nothing short of remarkable.
Moreover, in a world where the Black brand is severely compromised, the President and his family model the way for class and dignity. He is a solid husband and father who set the standard for intelligent and responsible black males. His wife and children demonstrate the same refinement. Compare and contrast the Obama to the Palin family.
This leads us to our biggest objection to the Smiley/Palin thesis. Criticizing is easy. But we have yet to hear precisely how the President erred, what he did wrong, how he could have done better, or what he should have done differently. We cannot help but wonder how Mrs. Palin, Mr. Smiley or anyone else could have done any better were they to carry the weight of the world; had they worn the shoes of the President.
In conclusion, President Obama is not the enemy. He is not the cause of our dysfunction, is not responsible for our success or failure and is not obligated to do for us what we should do for ourselves.
Equally important, African-Americans have not been too deferential to the President because he is Black. We have instead been too deferential to ourselves because we are Black. And Sarah Palin who has been anything but respectful of this President is just plain clueless.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum