Tales from the Trail

Election shines light on long path to post-racial America

So much for post-racial. Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When President Barack Obama won his historic bid for the U.S. presidency in 2008 as the nation’s first black president, there was a lot of talk about a new era for America.

But his re-election on Tuesday showed that in U.S. politics, race has far from become a back-burner issue.

The Democratic victory driven by strong support from Latinos, blacks and Asians leaves many re-examining the impact of minority voters not only on future elections but on policies ranging from immigration to education.

Latinos are the fastest growing group in America, as my colleagues Patrick Rucker and David Adams report in their story, Hispanic vote tilts strongly to Obama in win.

Pawlenty defends blandness with race card joke

The race card? No, Governor, he just means you’re boring.

Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor running for the Republican nomination to unseat Democrat Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, brought up race on Sunday when asked if he was too boring to win.

“The knock on you is .. that you’re too nice, too bland, and Republicans want somebody who can take the fight to Barack Obama,” “Fox News Sunday” interviewer Chris Wallace said.

Wallace mentioned conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s comment last week that “Haagen Dazs could put his picture on vanilla.”

Rrrrrrring, it’s the President calling…

They talked. 

President Barack Obama called Shirley Sherrod at about 12:35 p.m. and they spoke for 7 minutes. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the White House operator unsuccessfully tried to reach her twice last night but was unable to leave a voicemail.

POTUS offered his regrets, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had been sincere in his apology yesterday, and hoped that she would see “this misfortune” as an opportunity to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need. 

In just days, a charge of racism by a conservative  led to Sherrod losing her Agriculture Department job and ended in a phone call from the president. USA/

It’s official – Obama is the first African-American president

OBAMA/

President Barack Obama has done his civic duty and filled out his Census form, and in doing so confirmed that he is, indeed, the first African-American U.S. president.

Obama checked African-American on the form when he filled it out, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. And he did it without giving it a great deal of thought.

“I think he just checked it,” Gibbs told reporters during a briefing in his office at the White House on Friday.

Racial overtones at healthcare protest

John Lewis

The protests against healthcare reform took an ugly turn on Saturday. Black congressmen told reporters that demonstrators called them the N-word and one representative said he was spat upon.

“This is not the first time the congressman has been called the N-word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans,” said a statement from the office of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver.

“That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name-calling and spitting.”

Obama talks race on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Barack Obama, marking his first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as president of the United States, urged Americans on Monday to remember that the civil rights era is not ancient history.

OBAMA/“Sometimes in celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, we act as if this history was so long ago,” he said at a White House gathering of black senior citizens and their grandchildren.

Not for these people, who brought stories with them about the slain civil rights leader during a brief visit with Obama and his wife, Michelle, in the Roosevelt Room, just steps away from the Oval Office.

The First Draft: Bill Clinton on race and the healthcare debate

Bill Clinton has tons of respect for Jimmy Carter. But he doesn’t agree that racism is a driving factor behind angry opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform agenda. OBAMA/

Like Carter, Clinton is a former Democratic governor of a Southern state who has spent years battling entrenched racism against blacks.

“I sympathize with where President Carter’s coming from. If you’re a white southerner and you’ve fought these battles a long time, you’re super-sensitive to any kind of discrimination based on race,” Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Letterman to Obama: “How long have you been a black man?”

President Barack Obama has sought to distance himself from Jimmy Carter’s recent comment that some of the anger directed at him over the summer is because he is a black man.

lettermanBut he couldn’t avoid the issue when he appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday. His host put it to him straight, but with a healthy dose of good humor.

“Was Jimmy Carter onto something … was this unease or poor decorum rooted in racism, or is that just something to talk about?” Letterman asked.

Protests against Obama: race or policy?

Former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country’s first black president are tinged with racism.

USA-POLITICS/Carter’s forceful words threw the issue into the forefront of public debate.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said in an interview on NBC.

Carter says race is issue for some Obama opponents

Some of President Barack Obama’s more demonstrative opponents list any number of reasons why they oppose him and why they’re angry — from the bank bailout, to his plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, the direction the country is heading and the ballooning U.S. deficit. But former President Jimmy Carter thinks a lot of the opposition is really about Obama’s race.

jimmy-carter

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said in an NBC interview on Tuesday.

Here’s what the Georgia Democrat had to say:
“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”