Back in 2009, newly-installed Attorney General Eric Holder called America "a nation of cowards" on matters of race. Based on the President’s unannounced remarks on the Zimmerman case (the absence of a Teleprompter doesn’t mean the speech was impromptu, despite Jay Carney’s insistence that it was), Holder had it right, at least with regard to Barack Obama.
After announcing through his press secretary that he would make no statement about the Zimmerman’s trial (or, as MSNBC and Media Matters describe it, how the angry, fat, disgusting white guy stalked, hunted and killed the angelic child Trayvon, then used his white privilege power to get the all-white jury to find him not guilty, even though he's not white), Obama spoke about the Zimmerman trial. He spoke in the Press briefing room, surrounded by sycophants. And to ensure that no one exposed him, the President took no questions.
With studied sincerity, the President claimed that he had experienced discrimination because of the color of his skin. That he had seen women clutch their purses in his presence. That he had seen them hold their breath in the elevator. That 35 years ago, he had been Trayvon (fact: 35 years ago, Obama attended an elite Hawaiian prep school). The President delivered the story his (bought-and-paid-for) base wanted to hear.
The President spoke of how important it is to have a dialog about race in America. Fine. But race wasn’t a factor in the case. The FBI said race was not a part of it. The jury said race was not a part of it. Trayvon's mother said race was not a part of it. The Martin family lawyer said race was not a part of it. So essentially the President exploited the case for his own political purposes (see 2014).
Nor was Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute a part of the trial in any way. Zimmerman in fact waived his right to make that claim.
Presidents have used the bully pulpit to explain the case for war, to heal a nation after national disaster and to rally Americans (of all races!) to find and engage their life's purpose. For those who have never seen it under Obama, these are examples of leadership and courage.
Checking the temperature of the nation before making a statement, mis-characterizing the case entirely, claiming to have been the object of racial discrimination, and doing all of it in the womb of White House press briefing room; is there anything more cowardly than that?
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