This is pretty much a non-shocker. White House Press Secy. Robert Gibbs downplayed President Jimmy Carter’s statements Wednesday about Joe Wilson’s outburst being about race and disrespect for the first African American president.
From Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama doesn’t believe he’s being criticized because of his race.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama – the nation’s first black president – doesn’t think that criticism of his policies is “based on the color of his skin.”
Gibbs was asked about the topic following comments on Tuesday by former President Jimmy Carter.
Of course, did we expect the White House to say anything different? In an environment where Obama gets called the “Racist-in-Chief” on CNN by Tea Baggers and is disrespectfully treated on a fairly regular basis from citizens and now congressmen alike, what was the White House going to say? Ever since the campaign, Obama has downplayed the race factor. That’s what helped him win. He can’t go around decrying racism now either, as he’d be labeled as a race-baiting whiner (even if that’s what some of those opposed to him are doing). Look at the mess that was Henry Louis Gates’ arrest and what that turned into when Obama spoke his mind frankly, then had to Texas two-step his way back to something more malleable?
People often make the comparison (and in my opinion, wrong comparison) between Obama and slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. But the reality is, King behaved as a man with absolutely nothing to lose as many activists in his position did. Obama has a lot to lose and can’t act as freely as King did. In that sense, Obama was always more like Jackie Robinson to me. Robinson had something to lose (his baseball contract) and was bound to a certain degree. He had to take abuse, be exemplary and not complain, letting his performance on the field speak when he couldn’t. Obama can’t act like an activist because he’s not one, he’s a politician, and he is bound to his electorate. He has to let his response to Wilson come through in his actions, not co-signing with Carter on accusations of racism. Obama’s worth will be measured in whether he is successful in accomplishing his goals as president. Everything else has to unfortunately be taken in stride.