- The Washington Times - Friday, April 9, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama says Virginia’s governor made “an unacceptable omission” when he proclaimed Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery.

“I don’t think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery,” said Mr. Obama, the nation’s first black president. First lady Michelle Obama is descended from a South Carolina slave.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell came under harsh criticism for issuing April’s history month proclamation without any reference to slavery. The Republican governor at first defended his decree, saying it was intended to honor the Confederate sacrifice on Virginia soil and promote tourism. On Wednesday he apologized and added a paragraph condemning slavery, saying that leaving it out had been a “major omission.”

Interviewed by ABC News on Thursday in Prague, where the president earlier signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia, Mr. Obama said the controversy was “a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we’d better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people.”

Asked about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s criticisms about his nuclear defense policy, the president responded: “I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.”