New York Times reporter and sympathetic Obama biographer Jodi Kantor implied that various insults suffered by President Obama were in fact racist attacks in her Sunday front page profile, "For President, a Complex Calculus of Race and Politics – An Embrace of Black Life Balanced by a Belief in Universal Principles." Plus: After months of being a Hispanic, accused shooter George Zimmerman is again a "white man" at the Times.
Vigilant about not creating racial flash points, the president is private and wary on the subject, and his aides carefully orchestrate White House appearances by black luminaries and displays of black culture. Those close to Mr. Obama say he grows irritated at being misunderstood -- not just by opponents who insinuate that he caters to African-Americans, but also by black lawmakers and intellectuals who fault him for not making his presidency an all-out assault on racial disparity.
But like an actor originating a role on Broadway, Mr. Obama has been performing a part that no one else has ever played, and close observers say they can see him becoming as assured on race in public as he is in private conversation. In 2009, the new president’s statement on the arrest of a black Harvard professor by a white police officer set off days of negative headlines; in 2012, he gave a commanding but tender lament over the killing of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white man.
Hmm. The Times still can't figure out what to call accused shooter George Zimmerman. For a few awkward weeks he was a "white Hispanic," a term rarely used by the paper in any other context (Zimmerman’s father is a non-Hispanic white, and his mother is from Peru) and which had hate-crime overtones. The paper's official Topics page identifies him merely as Hispanic, which is how he was usually identified going forward.
Kantor also implied that Newt Gingrich's attack on Obama's handling of the economy, and all sorts of other insults of President Obama, were in fact racist attacks. (Didn't Howard Dean want to "Take Our Country Back" in 2004?)
In private, White House aides frequently dissect the racial dynamics of the presidency, asking whether Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, would have yelled “You lie!” at a white president during an address to Congress or what Tea Party posters saying “Take Back Our Country” really mean. Michelle Obama, often called the glue in her husband’s relationship with black voters, sometimes remarks publicly or privately about the pressures of being the first black first lady.
Even when Newt Gingrich called him a “food stamp president” during the Republican primaries, the most the president did was shoot confidants a meaningful look -- “the way he will cock his head, an exaggerated smile, like ‘I’m not saying but I’m saying,’ ” one campaign adviser said.