Barack Obama’s two listless statements commenting on the events in Ferguson show the bad faith into which enemies and the anticipation of what his enemies will say have pushed him. Charles Pierce:
The harder he preached his message of conciliation, the more his enemies made a figure of division out of him. The more people seemed to be buying that message, the harder its opponents worked to frame the message as, at best, camouflage for the president’s “real agenda,” and the harder they then worked to frame anything he did for African American citizens as “reparations.” No matter how often he spoke about personal responsibility, the louder were the complaints about “Obamaphones.” He placed himself in a kind of box because his rhetoric about racial reconciliation and one America failed to take into account the political utility of entrenched racism. Hell, everybody believes we’ve “gotten beyond” our racial problems in this country. Even the people rigging state election laws, or cheering on radicalized police forces, believe that. However, racism is still politically powerful and, therefore, politically useful. It is not a demographic fluke that 66 percent of the people in Ferguson are African American, but that only three of the cops are. That ratio is the result of deliberate political decisions, deliberately made, in which entrenched racism was politically useful to the people making them.
Pierce sees the forces of reaction aging and pressing down on Captain Ron Johnson:
Weariness in a president is understandable. It’s the worst job in the world. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I should never vote for anyone who campaigns for the office because they are either power-mad or insane. But weariness in a president can be dangerous. Vietnam — and the national upheaval it occasioned — nearly killed LBJ. Nixon was eaten alive by Watergate. Reagan was a symptomatic Alzheimer’s patient for most of his second term. Lincoln once said that he felt like “the tiredest man on earth.” But, even at the end of their respective ropes, LBJ got a gun-control law passed, and Nixon increased the minimum wage, and Reagan managed to work with Gorbachev, and Lincoln managed to win the Civil War. The president can say anything he wants now. He will never run for re-election again. His opponents are going to screech like ravens on meth no matter what he says. Weary or not, he should take a tip from Ron Johnson and walk his beat again tonight.