President Barack Obama told a gathering of law enforcement officials on Monday that he was critical to their efforts to reconcile with the black community: “I’m your best hope,” he declared, according to a police official quoted by the Washington Post.
The gathering took place as Obama prepares to visit Dallas, where five police officers were murdered Thursday at a Black Lives Matter protest. Obama has spoken out in defense of law enforcement, but has also echoed criticisms of racial disparities in policing.
While some fault Obama for worsening relations between law enforcement and the black community — dating to his 2009 claim that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting a Harvard professor at his own home — Obama’s experience as the nation’s first black president has apparently convinced him that he is the only one who can solve the problem.
Some police, apparently, agree. James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, apparently responded to Obama by saying “I don’t disagree,” according to the Post.
Obama has cast himself in a mediating role before. When he first took office, he granted his first television interview to the Al-Arabiyya network of Saudi Arabia, and cast himself as a go-between:
Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries … And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.
Critics contended that Obama’s job was to represent the United States and its interests, not to represent the Muslim world to America.
Obama’s involvement in police relations with the black community dates to his years in Chicago and the Illinois State Senate, where he had few legislative achievements but was credited for a legislative effort to reform police interrogations.
Since becoming president, Obama has faced criticism from his home town as the murder rate in Chicago has spiked, and he has been seen to do little to address the problem, other than calling for more gun control.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.