U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s “nation of cowards” phrase heard around the nation is getting the thumbs down from his boss and commander-in-chief Barack Obama. I first wrote about the un-statesman-like remark from Holder in my column for CNN.com on February 24. You can read it here.
For a “words matter” president, it is clear that his attorney general’s recent remarks do seem to matter to Mr. Obama. He told the New York Times:
“I think it’s fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney general, we would have used different language.”
First of all, isn’t his role as president to advise his attorney general? There is no “if” I were advising him. He “does” advise him. What I think Mr. Obama actually meant but couldn’t say out loud was that he didn’t know what the heck his attorney general was going to say and was caught off guard by his remarks like the rest of us. As I mentioned in my writing, certainly there are other words Holder could have selected more fitting a statesman. Even more, what Holder said runs in stark contrast to what the president himself has attempted to promote — A “more perfect union,” that doesn’t “breed division.”
Though, I am curious as to just what different “language” Mr. Obama would have chosen to convey the point he claims Holder was attempting to make. How would he address Holder’s bubbling black anger or clean up what amounts to calling the country racist cowards without using his own words that condemned such behavior?
“To wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns — this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.”
Ya listening Mr. Holder? It was just last March during that now-famous “Perfect Union” speech on race in which candidate Obama also declared:
“We have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as a spectacle.. or as fodder for the nightly news.. We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one.. And nothing will change.”
It seems nothing has changed for Holder, as his comments did nothing to elevate or add to the discussion of race, but (using the words of Obama) merely added to “a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.” The election is over, yet he still wants to offer nothing but distraction and Obama called him on the carpet for it. Good for him. It’s also not the first public tongue lashing the president has had to issue in his still-new administration. (Recall Vice President Joe Biden’s failed attempt at humor when mocking Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ presidential swearing in was batted down at the podium by Mr. Obama.)
I must say, I do agree with President Obama’s observation that we do far too much talking about race than actually doing anything to move the conversation forward. He told the Times:
“I’m not somebody who believes that constantly talking about race somehow solves racial tensions. I think what solves racial tensions is fixing the economy, putting people to work, making sure that people have health care, ensuring that every kid is learning out there.”
Can he tell that to the rest of the race-pimp piranhas?
—Tara Wall is deputy editor at The Washington Times