July 19, 2013

Obama tries so hard to say something and nothing at the same time — about Trayvon Martin.

This halting, awkward performance had to have been carefully thought out, but you're supposed to absorb the anguish and agonizing as he walks back any expectation that the federal government will do anything:

From the NYT write-up:
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son... Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
These are memorable but empty statements. Fill them with whatever you want. This isn't a critique of the legal system and how it handled the case. It's a vague claim of authority to empathize.
“I don’t want to exaggerate this, but..."
But! Have it both ways. I don't want to exaggerate, but I've just got to say it anyway.

"... those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”
That's utterly banal: People understand things within the context of their own experiences.
“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations”...
Useful to examine the laws... okay.... He's really not saying anything, and yet the New York Times must sum up by giving him credit:
Mr. Obama spoke in deeply personal terms — an extraordinary moment for a president who seemed, at least during first term, often to shy away from the issue of race.
What is deep and extraordinary? The case was already racialized, and he resonated with a bit of that without saying too much.