Follow the Leader: Explaining the Efforts of President Obama
In which Dana Milbank proves that the weather’s lovely on the moons of Neptune, where he apparently has spent the past six years. Here’s the simple truth. The country doesn’t want a conversation on race, especially one led by the blah president whose simple legitimacy has been under assault since the moment his hand came off the Bible. The country doesn’t want a conversation on race unless it is sure from the outset that white people will “win” it. The idea that the president could jump-start this conversation, let alone “give voice” to black people’s complaints about (largely) white policemen who are killing them, and not be greeted with the shitstorm sharknado of all time, is so fantastical that it makes me wonder whether I even read Milbank correctly.
Put simply, in so many areas, the president is putting the responsibility of governing — of Leadership (!)tm — on us, which is where it should be. We shouldn’t need a president to start a conversation on race. We should start it ourselves, in thousands of town halls and church basements and radio talk-shows. But, as a self-governing democracy, we are too cowardly to do it honestly, because it rubs up against the comfortable myth of American exceptionalism. We should make him do things, not the other way around. That’s been the fundamental challenge of him from the outset. He’s left the hard and necessary work of self-government to a country that simply is no longer up to the job. If all Barack Obama’s administration has done is to become the mirror in which we see that basic fact about ourselves, that’s all the Leadership (!)tm we should expect from any president. He’s not the 98-pound weakling. America is.