Obama’s Mixed Racial Message

White House silence in the latest race debate suggests a pattern. Ever since the flap over his fiery pastor, Jeremiah Wright, nearly scuttled his budding 2008 nomination campaign, President Barack Obama seems more willing to engage a race debate when blacks are attacked — and lately he tends to side with the attackers.

When whites are attacked he backs off, taking care to avoid joining the attack. Most recently, by keeping mum about Rep. Joe Wilson’s insults and the ensuing claims that the South Carolina Republican was motivated by racism. Look at how quickly he caved in the Henry Louis Gates Jr. matter, retracting his words that the white police officer in the case “acted stupidly.”

While off the record, Obama was harsh in his comments this week about a black rap singer who interrupted a white singer’s acceptance speech at the MTV video awards, calling Kanye West a “jackass.” And in prepared speeches to black audiences Obama likes to deliver tough remarks — telling black fathers “any fool could have a child” and, in a speech to the NACCP, urging more focus on education in black culture by saying “No excuses! No excuses!”