The Wall Street Journal has joined other media outlets in portraying President Barack Obama’s reaction to the Trayvon Martin shooting in a positive light–though Obama’s left-wing supporters are using the tragedy to inflame political divisions.
On March 25, the Journal wrote:
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the case, calling it a “local law enforcement matter.” Friday, he said the president had prepared for the question in case he was asked in media interviews.
Mr. Obama often ignores shouted questions asked at unrelated announcements, but chose to respond this time. Exactly why he did, White House officials didn’t make clear, beyond saying he was moved as a parent.
The criticism of Mr. Obama over the [Henry Louis] Gates [Jr.] incident was driven in part by outrage from police officers and supporters. James Preston, president of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, a police union, remembers being upset with the president’s comments at the time.
Friday, he said he found himself in rare agreement with Mr. Obama’s take on the situation.
“There’s a learning curve there and I think he’s probably gotten some better advice about how to handle those situations,” said Mr. Preston, a retired Tampa officer and a Republican.
Unlike in 2009, Mr. Obama didn’t pass judgment on law-enforcement officials involved. And instead of talking about case details, he spoke about his feelings as a father, and implicitly, as an African-American.
The president has invoked his family before in discussing controversial issues, most recently when he explained why he called Sandra Fluke, a law student denigrated by radio personality Rush Limbaugh during a debate over contraception coverage.
He said he thought about how he would want his daughters to be treated if they spoke their minds in public.
Curiously, the online version of the Journal article included an additional two paragraphs that appear to acknowledge–if only to dismiss–one difficulty with the president’s pronouncements on the case:
Race is a touchier topic for the president. Mr. Obama has rarely been eager to identify himself as a black candidate or president. On rare occasions, he has addressed the matter–notably during the controversy over his former minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright–but usually casts the issue in a broader context of American history, said Mary Frances Berry, who served on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights from 1980 to 2004.
“He wants to be careful so that people who are uncomfortable with the first African-American president don’t believe he’s only going to pay attention to African-Americans,” she said.
Ultimately, the issue is not one of race, but of law and justice–which the president and the media seem less than eager to acknowledge, while pointing to race and politics as contributing factors in a terrible death whose circumstances are not yet clear.