Presidential Scold


obamaNew Orleans Paul Krugman in the New York Times makes the dead-on point that the President needs to be a little more “populist” – appealing to the masses rather than the elites – about the gross excesses of Wall Street pay and reining in the bankers.  There his comments would be welcome because the federal government, which he heads, has huge skin in that game.  Krugman says President Obama is uncomfortable being a populist.

Is he?  Not when it comes to scolding his core constituency.  In recent months we have seen the President weigh in on police behavior in Cambridge with Professor Henry Louis Gates ending up in the “beer summit.”  We have seen him do a slap down on Kanye West as a “jackass.”  We have reports of him trying to thrown the first African-American governor of New York State under the bus long before the voters are able to have their play.  Now, we even have him cracking wise about the need for some kind of investigation by someone or another into the ACORN videotape stings, according to an AP story in my hometown paper.

These seem like political cheap shots reminiscent of the Sister Souljah tongue lash by Clinton in an earlier era.  These are bullet shots across the mass of America that are racially coded.  These are Bill Cosby in the White House moments.

Is this the politics of change?  I don’t think so.  Did we expect the Bushes to weigh in and out on a daily basis about white people?  Of course not!  So, why does the first African-American President still have to be the scold when it comes to an organization that is heavily identified by its black and Latino membership and leadership?

A “just the facts, ma’am” would be a comforting stance from the White House, and I for one believe we are all better served when President Obama is in the pulpit, rather than when he is being the bully.