NYT's Maureen Dowd: Obama Is Outsourcing the Race Issue

Image: NYT's Maureen Dowd: Obama Is Outsourcing the Race Issue Attorney General Eric Holder, left, and The Reverand Al Sharpton. (Don Emmert/Getty Images ; Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 12:57 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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President Barack Obama has farmed out part of his presidency during his past six years in office – and now’s he’s outsourcing the race issue, says New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

In an op-ed piece headlined "He Has a Dream," Dowd said that instead of handling the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, he turned over the problem to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"As he has grown weary of Washington, Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose," Dowd wrote.

"He left the explaining and selling of his signature healthcare legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn’t bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden.

"But the one thing it was impossible to imagine, back in the giddy days of the 2009 inauguration, as Americans basked in their open-mindedness and pluralism, was that the first African-American president would outsource race."

Dowd says that the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson by white police officer Darren Wilson afforded the president "a crucial teachable moment."

But he "spurned" the moment while continuing his family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

"He dispatched Eric Holder to Ferguson, and deputized Al Sharpton, detaching himself at the very moment when he could have helped move the country forward on an issue close to his heart," Dowd wrote. "It’s another perverse reflection of his ambivalent relationship to power.

"He was willing to lasso the moon when his candidacy was on the line, so why not do the same at a pivotal moment for his presidency and race relations? Instead, he anoints a self-promoting TV pundit with an incendiary record.

"It seems oddly retrogressive to make Sharpton the official go-between with Ferguson’s black community, given that his history has been one of fomenting racial divides, while Obama’s has been one of soothing them."

Dowd noted that Sharpton fanned "anti-Semitic feelings" during the notorious Crown Heights riots in 1991, while recently he was at the forefront of a huge protest surrounding the chokehold death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in New York City.

Dowd concluded, "Obama has muzzled himself on race and made Sharpton his chosen instrument — two men joined in pragmatism at a moment when idealism is needed. We can’t expect the president to do everything. But we can expect him to do something."

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