Think of it this way: You’re in the middle of a long day at work, you’re signing some documents that need to go out the door, you’re surrounded by co-workers who drive you nuts, your wife and kids are sick of eating without you, and there’s not enough air conditioning to keep you dry. Plus, you’re the president. Fine. Give him all that. But Barack Obama’s eloquence certainly deserted him when he spoke briefly to Oval Office reporters about the shooting at the Sikh temple.
From CBS News:
The president said he and other officials are awaiting the outcome of the full investigation into the Sikh temple shooting. It’s not yet clear what motivated the shooter, but Mr. Obama said that if he were motivated in any way by the ethnicity of those attending the temple, the American people would “immediately recoil at those kinds of attitudes.”
“I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people and we look after one another and we respect one another,” he said.
That’s absolute crap.
Now, you may be thinking, Well, he’s the president. He has to bullshit all the time. It’s part of the job description. You know—he has to say his views on gay marriage are evolving even though he hasn’t spent one day of his life pondering the question. Or he has to say he’s soul-searching about gun laws when what he actually thinks is, “If these NRA morons weren’t clinging to their guns, people wouldn’t walk to work armed like the IDF.”
But this little blast of bullshit was particularly irritating because he’s acknowledged how untrue it is before. Philadelphians may remember that Obama gave a historic speech about race at the Constitution Center in February 2008. He was campaigning and he had to do damage control over Rev. Wright’s comments. That could have been accomplished any number of ways—he didn’t have to make a lengthy speech saying, basically, that in fact we are not all one people and we are not very interested in looking after each other:
[The black community’s] anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or the beauty shop or around the kitchen table. … the anger is real; it is powerful. And to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. … Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. …
This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.
While he had hope for the future (as political candidates always do), the bulk of the speech really comes down to this: 1.) We hate each other. 2.) Here is the history that explains why that is. 3.) Elect me so that I can change the future.
But the only thing that’s changed is Obama’s tolerance for bullshit.
It’s bizarre that he’d say the American people would immediately recoil. Which American people? Wade Page is American—he served in the U.S. Army. So are the officials at the Baptist church that recently prohibited a black couple from getting married there, as is the guy who’s back in court in Arkansas appealing his hate crime conviction for running five Latino men off the road. In Northridge, California, another American took her daughter and her friends on a vandalism outing so they could smear poo, scrawl swastikas and write “Jew” on a home in the neighborhood. Everyone hates everyone else. I don’t care how many inspiring viral videos you watch.
Be honest: What’s the first thing you thought of when you heard there was a mass shooting at a Sikh temple? I bet it’s some crazy white racist. The only appropriate thing for Obama to say to reporters, given the topic, was, “Well, what did you expect? This is America.”