Comedian Rodney Dangerfield is famous for saying he doesn’t get any respect. That’s how President Obama must feel some days. Nothing he does appears good enough for left liberal Democrats (now dubbed the “professional left”), right wing Republicans, Whites, Blacks and anyone in between. Blogger Marie Cooper recently wrote if President Obama were a combination of Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Jesus, he would still be criticized. President Obama is being held to a higher standard than any other president, even within his own party. That’s because he’s our first African American President. As the first African American in any position knows, African Americans are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts in the same position. African Americans know that we must work harder, be smarter, go farther and will still be sharply criticized.
Compared with President Obama, in the first 18 months of former President Clinton’s first term, his administration failed miserably at getting any healthcare reform passed despite dogged efforts by then First Lady Hillary Clinton. Does anyone even remember what President Clinton accomplished in his first 18 months of office? I don’t recall the criticisms from Democrats of former President Bill Clinton who took the country on a side show tour with his sex escapades with Monica Lewinsky. There was not much criticism among Clinton’s own party for his wasting tax payer money, the country’s time and effort to defend against the now famous I did not have sex with “that woman” saga. In fact, most Democrats rallied around him.
As the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” of hearing all the intense criticism, complaints and character assaults being hurled at President Obama from inside his party. I expect no more from the Republicans. Democrats should take a lesson here from Republicans. I don’t recall Republicans hurling public verbal assaults at President George W. Bush when we learned there were no weapons of mass destruction. Few Republicans, if any, publicly criticized President Bush for causing the Iraq War that’s taken the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis.
Here’s the problem with President Obama. He can’t be all things to all people at all times. As a progressive African American, I want him to be more vocal and supportive on race issues and appear less like the cowardly lion on these issues. I want the first African American female nominated to the Supreme Court. I’m still waiting for President Obama to speak out on the teachable lessons on race. He missed his opportunity again during the Shirley Sherrod debacle. I wanted the public option in healthcare reform. I also wished women’s rights to abortion were fully protected in healthcare reform. Yet, I understand in the words of my former marathon coach that a half (loaf) is better than none. I want more from President Obama on race and issues affecting women.
President Obama is not going to be all things to all people at all times. So to all the Obama liberal professional left haters, naysayers, whiners and cry babies, just get over it. That’s an impossible mission. Yet, that’s the standard that we expect of our first African American president.
Debbie Hines, Esq. blogs on race, law, women and politics. For the best of Legalspeaks, please click on Res Ipsa Loquitur.
White House Photo courtesy of Pete Souza.