Pat Buchanan: Leading from behind Al Sharpton
"THE FIRST Black President ... Spoke First as a Black American," ran the banner headline of Sunday's Washington Post.
But why, when the fires of anger over the Zimmerman verdict were dying down, did he go into that pressroom and stir them up?
"A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium," said Tavis Smiley on "Meet the Press." Black leaders demanded Obama come out of hiding and stand in solidarity with the aggrieved and outraged.
Belatedly and meekly, Obama complied.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," said Obama.
But which Trayvon?
The one walking home with Skittles and tea? Or the one who sucker-punched Zimmerman, decked him, piled on, pummeled him martial arts style, hammered his head on the sidewalk, ignored his screams for help and got shot by the guy he was assaulting?
For that is the story Zimmerman told, Sanford police believed, the lone eyewitness confirmed, the defense argued, the prosecution could not shake and the jury believed. Not guilty, on all counts.
If Obama thinks the verdict was justified, why did he not urge that the demonstrations, marches, vandalism and violence cease?
If he agrees Zimmerman got away with murder — "an atrocity," Al Sharpton said of the verdict — why did Obama hide behind this mush: "Once the jury's spoken, that's how the system works."
The President sent his "thoughts and prayers" to Trayvon's family.
To George Zimmerman, painted as a racist monster for 16 months, hiding in fear of his life, his Peruvian mother and family under threat — not a word of compassion from the president.
Obama moved swiftly off the trial and into a rambling discourse on the black experience and racial profiling.
But why? The jury said Trayvon was not profiled.
What is Obama up to? Answer. A law professor, he knows this case, based on evidence and testimony, was open and shut. And he knows Eric Holder is not going to file any hate-crime civil rights charges.
So Obama swiftly changed the subject.
"There are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me ... before I was a senator."
"There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off."
"That happens often," said Obama. Undeniably. But why do black males awaken such apprehensions and fears? Is it their color?
Well, 13 percent of our population is black. Half of that — say, 6 plus percent — is male. Of that 6 percent, one in six — just 1 percent of the U.S. population — consists of black males age 18 to 29.
Of all black males 18 to 29, writes Ron Unz in "Race and Crime in America," 28 percent are in jail or prison, or on probation.
The "liberal Sentencing Project organization," says Unz, estimates that "one-third of all black men are already convicted criminals by their 20s, and the fraction would surely be far higher for those living in urban areas."
Twenty years ago in Chicago, where black kids are gunned down daily, Jesse Jackson was quoted, "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."
That's the same apprehension, Mr. President, those women feel on that elevator.
Obama traced the "violence ... in poor black neighborhoods" to "poverty and ... a very difficult history.
But slavery and segregation were far closer in time to the black America of the 1950s, and poverty was far greater. Yet we never saw crime and incarceration rates like we see today in Black America.
Why are white folks nervous about strange young black men in the neighborhood? Perhaps because they commit interracial muggings, robberies and rapes at 35 times the rate of whites.
As newspapers avoid the issue of black racism and rarely give the stats on interracial crime, Obama dwelt lovingly on the indignities of racial profiling — without really addressing the root cause.
It was an uncourageous commentary. Weak as Kool-Aid, said Tavis.
But Obama was where he likes to be, leading from behind — this time behind Al Sharpton.
Pat Buchanan is a former Republican and Reform Party candidate for President, an adviser to two Presidents, a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C., and the author of"Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"