MSNBC's Thomas Roberts: Is Tough Presidency 'Just Too Much to Ask From' Obama?

Apparently the problem for President Obama is that he is just cares too much about America.  That, or he's similar to Jimmy Carter, the last president who caused liberals to wonder if the presidency was "too much." In an interview with Newsweek’s Allison Samuels, MSNBC Live host Thomas Roberts sympathetically asserted, “...President Obama [was] elected to repair the economy, get us out of two wars...repair equality divides in this country and also heal a racial divide. Is it just too much to ask from one president?"

Roberts ridiculously claimed that, as the first African-American president, Obama is “damned if you do, dammed if you don't” and we expect just too much for a "historical" president. Allison Samuels appeared on Roberts’ show to promote an article discussing Obama’s impact on race relations in the country.  The Newsweek journalist insisted that as a black president, many Americans were expecting miracles from him that just weren’t realistic of him.  [See video below.  MP3 audio here.]

At one point, Roberts marveled, "Allison is there a sense that because we elected a black president many believe that America's race wounds have been healed?"

Essentially, Obama’s policy failures aren’t his fault, according to Roberts and Samuels. The idea that voters might disagree with the President, for feel Obama hasn't kept his promises, seemed to not cross their minds.

See the relevant transcript below.


MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts
11:35 a.m.
04/09/2012

THOMAS ROBERTS: President Obama made national headlines when he spoke about the Trayvon Martin case weeks ago saying if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. How has America's first black president impacted this discussion of race and race relations in America? "Newsweek" delves into the Martin case and America's larger racial divide in an article titled "Is Obama Making it Worse"? Joining me this morning is the author, Newsweek senior writer, and author of the book "What Would Michelle Do?”, Allison Samuels. Allison it’s good to have you back on with us.  And before his comments the president was criticized for not talking about Martin's death and then after speaking, Newt Gingrich accused the president of making this all about race. I want to show everybody because a Newsweek poll found that 78 percent of blacks thought the president’s comments were appropriate as opposed to 28 percent of whites. So why this difference in perception about the president's remarks?


ALLISON SAMUELS: Really, he's in a no win situation. People accused him of injecting race into the Trayvon Martin case when race was already there. He was just simply making an obvious point that as an African-American man Trayvon could have been his son. And why people took offense to that particular statement which was, in fact, very true is baffling to many. I think so many people are so uncomfortable with the race discussion, with the word of race and him saying I’m Trayvon’s, I could have been Trayvon's father reminds America that he is an African-American man and I think a lot of people would rather forget that.  

ROBERTS: Many Americans may think because we do have our first African-American president, that we have leaped over and healed a racial divide that has existed in this country.  As we look at more information from the article when asked if racism was a problem in America, 60 percent of blacks respondents said yes, 19 percent of whites said yes. Allison is there a sense that because we elected a black president many believe that America's race wounds have been healed?

SAMUELS: Yes, I think that's very true. I have in the story a comment from Chris Rock where he made a semi-joke saying once a black president is elected we won't be able to sort of say anything about racism at all. And I think that's exactly what's occurred here. The thought is we have an African-American in The White House. Obviously people of all colors voted him in. What are you complaining about? But it really has made it in many ways more visible, more sort of people now are sort of, expressing that anger or that frustration that they had, that they hadn't expressed before because they have this visible, tangible person that they can sort of feel and complain about when they feel things aren't going well.

ROBERTS: Well as you point out it's kind of a damned if you do dammed if you don't strategy in all of this.  And as a country, as Americans, we're all walking through this together in what is the first for history. And trying to categorize how all these things should be parsed out when President Obama is elected to repair the economy. Get us out of two wars. You know, repair equality divides in this country and also heal a racial divide. Is it just too much to ask from one president?

SAMUELS: Oh, I think it's absolutely too much to ask. And no matter who was elected this last election was going to face, you know, so many different obstacles. I think because he is African-American I think people expect it for some reason or not some miracles. And I think a lot of people sort of knew that early on.  That he was going to be expected because he was given this opportunity, this sort of favor to be the first African-American that he would be able to perform all of these miracles that were just not realistic. And now I think that anger as many people said, they have seen an anger directed towards him that they didn't see in other presidents. You know, as though he created this problem and has actually made it worse. And so he is in this really, really bad situation of what do I do? If I bring up race I'm criticized. If I don't talk about race I'm also being criticized I’m also hurting a group of people we make the point in the story that he's not been able to deal with a lot of African-American issues because if he talks about race people get upset. So it really is an unfortunate situation for him.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.