Guide Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America

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I don't think that changes," Rothenberg said. Despite any inroads made in regard to Obama's own racial identity, poll numbers show a slipping confidence in progress for blacks overall. That confidence fell 15 percentage points among whites, but more sharply -- 24 percent -- among blacks. ABC News. We reached out to those who made the offending statements to see what they had to say about them now. Some answered us, some didn't:.

Then, Jan. Now: On Jan. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up. Now: He quickly apologized for the comment, telling reporters, "I deeply apologize for the way that was said and having said it.

Obviously, I am not blacker than President Obama. Now: Neither Parry nor his campaign manager returned calls or e-mail seeking comment. He told reporters recently, "My opinion is that our president is arrogant and angry. The fact is that he is a black man. Ted Kennedy of Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee. During the presidential campaign Clinton also called Obama's run for the White House as "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. Then, Dec. He took to Facebook, lashing out at Obama for being a "Muslim president.

But did I mean it?

No," he said. Then, Aug.

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Then, July The Florida neurosurgeon and healthcare reform opponent sent out an e-mail in July containing an image of Obama as an African witch doctor, dressed in a loin cloth and with a bone through his nose. Now: "I did not create that image.

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McKalip complained that liberals and the media picked on Republicans, especially small-town Republicans like him, while giving a free pass to people like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I apologized," McKalip said.

I don't know what it is. When it was noted that Obama's administration was largely white, Beck continued, ""I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist. Simpson and a crack about Michelle Obama posing in National Geographic.

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Now: Frago did not return phone or e-mail messages seeking comment. He told the Sun-Star in July, "I'm not the only one that does it. I didn't originate them, they came to me, and I just passed them on. He later confirmed that he was referring to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Now: Reached at home, DePass had no interest in explaining his comment further, saying his apology should stand on its own. Then, June The legislative aid for Republican state Sen. I asked McDonough how it was going, and he gave me a death-skull grin.

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He clenched his teeth and grinned harder in self-mockery. McDonough is the picture of rectitude: the ramrod posture, the trimmed white hair, the ashen mien of a bishop who has missed two meals in a row.

It was a matter of amour-propre, but—again—also of tactics. To have any chance to influence Trump, they had to avoid any trace of the contempt that had once been so pronounced. Perhaps the more acute personal sadness for White House staffers was the vision of Obama and Trump sitting side by side in the Oval Office. In the Oval Office, the President was quick to comfort the young members of his staff, but he was, an aide told me, even more concerned about the wounding effect the election would have on the categories of Americans who had been routinely insulted and humiliated by the President-elect.

At a social occasion earlier this year, someone asked Michelle Obama how it was possible for her husband to maintain his equipoise amid so much hatred.


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His practiced calm is beyond reckoning. Those closest to Obama at the White House say that he copes by quietly, sarcastically deflating the attacks—like letting the air out of a balloon slowly, one said, the better not to make too much noise. He never loses his capacity to be the scholar of his own predicament, a gently quizzical ethnographer of his own country, of its best and worst qualities. In private, Michelle Obama gives clearer voice to the frustrations, and, not least, to a concern about the racism that is apparent to them both.

He fully grasps the nature of the bigotry and the nihilism that Trump has espoused in the name of working-class empowerment. It is how I interact with my friends and with strangers. I was born to a white mother, raised by a white mom and grandparents who loved me deeply. I was elected twice by the majority of the American people.

Every day, I interact with people of good will everywhere.


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Obama is a patriot and an optimist of a particular kind. He hoped to be the liberal Reagan, a progressive of consequence, but there are crucial differences. For one thing, Obama does not believe in the simplistic form of American exceptionalism which insists that Americans are more talented and virtuous than everyone else, that they are blessed by a patriotic God with a special mission. America is a country that was established on the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers and improved upon not merely by legislation but also by social movements: this, to Obama, is the real nature of its exceptionalism.

Last year, at the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, he stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, and defined American exceptionalism as embodied by its heroes, its freedom fighters: Sojourner Truth, Susan B.

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Now Obama had begun the transfer of power to Donald Trump. Obama got in his car and the motorcade pulled out of the White House gates and sped south through the streets of D. I was packed into a van filled with officials from the Pentagon. They were gossiping softly about the election and its aftermath, but, once we were through the gates, passing thousands of tombstones, listening to the thud of ceremonial cannon fire, they went quiet.

After a while, someone remarked that Obama was about to leave for a weeklong foreign trip, beginning with Greece. After speaking at the Memorial Amphitheatre, Obama returned to the White House for lunch and a few meetings.

Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency

I saw him in the Oval Office afterward. In shirtsleeves but with his tie knotted high, he sat down in the chair where he had met with Trump the day before and ordered some tea. I asked him if he still believed that. I think that the possibility of everything being out the window exists. And, if you need any evidence of that, think about how hard we worked over the last eight years with a very clear progressive agenda, with a majority in the House and in the Senate, and we accomplished as much domestically as any President since Lyndon Johnson in those first two years.

But it was really hard. In the minds of a lot of the Republican base, it is an example of a big government program designed to take something from them and give it to someone else who is unworthy.