A panel on CBS’s Face The Nation debunked the Republican claim that President Obama has made race relations and racism worse since he took office.
Transcript via Face The Nation:
SCHIEFFER: Well, Charles, let me — I want to get back to this — this first finding here, that relational — race relations are worse under a Black president than they were under a white president.
What — what do you make of that?
CHARLES BLOW, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I mean they…
SCHIEFFER: Or at least they’re saying that’s what people say — are saying.
BLOW: Right. So — but you have to figure — ask yourself, is it a causal relationship, right?
Is it because of him and something that he has done or is it a reaction to him actually being the president, which is — which is not really about him, but about us, right?
And — and I think that is the bigger question, that is a bigger philosophical question as to how do we respond to people who do not look like us?
Do we believe that they have our interests at heart?
Do we believe that we can — we can identify and — and empathize with that person?
And — and if we cannot, then there’s — we kind of exacerbate something that may already exist in terms of bias, in terms of how we see race relations in this country.
And I think that’s a real question that we have to ask ourselves about who we are and whether or not things were, in fact, better before this president and — and just were kind of underneath the — kind of under the surface.
SCHIEFFER: David, what do you — and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s Barack Obama’s fault.
SCHIEFFER: But I mean I found that stunning, that this would be the finding that a lot of people say that things are worse now than they were.
DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”: Sociologists sometimes talk about a revolution of rising expectations, where because of changes, the election of the first African-American president, having Eric Holder, an African-American as our — as our attorney general, people expect things are changing.
And then when they see evidence in these cases where young unarmed black men are being shot and they’re — they’re not — the people who shoot them are not being indicted, there’s a special anger because people thought things were getting better. They thought with this African-American president that it would be different six years on.
And I think that’s part of what’s behind it, is a sense of disappointment. You know, America has had race issues. This is our original sin. And it’s a continuum in our national story.
But I wonder if the explosion of anger now doesn’t have something to do with people saying it should have been better because of the changes we thought the country had made in electing Barack Obama.
SCHIEFFER: And — and it’s not.
IGNATIUS: And it’s not…
IGNATIUS: Here’s this problem that — I mean how many years have we heard about driving while black as an experience that African- Americans have?
You know, white people hear this, but do we really react?
Do we really take it in and then say, OK, if that’s true, if so many people say that, what do you do different about it?
Republicans like Rep. Peter King (R-NY) blamed Obama for Ferguson. Fox News blamed Obama for racism and racist cops. Conservative Ben Stein recently called Obama the most racist president in American history.
Given this context, it was good to see Face The Nation have a serious discussion about the subject. Host Bob Schieffer repeatedly said that he wasn’t blaming the president for the results of the poll, and the panel debunked the Republican idea that Obama is somehow responsible for the racial issues in the country.
The sort of racial divides have existed in polling for decades. The most famous example is the divide between whites and African-Americans on the question of O.J. Simpson’s guilt or innocence.
The racial divisions in this country existed long before President Obama came into office. The idea that Obama is to blame for the events in Ferguson, and New York City is an invention of the president’s critics on the right.
The reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency is a symptom of a larger disease which has violently manifested itself in violent incidents across the country.
It was nice to see at least one mainstream media program avoid the Fox News trap and discuss this issue intelligently without blaming President Obama.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association