January 24th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
8 years ago

Will Obama have to be better because he's black?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/24/obama.pressure/art.obama.jpg caption="President Obama strides into history as the nation's first black president."](CNN) - Just days before he was sworn in, President Obama was giving his daughters a tour of the Lincoln Memorial when one of them pointed to a copy of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address carved into the wall.

Obama's 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, told her father that Lincoln's speech was really long. Would he have to give a speech as long? Obama's answer was completed by his older daughter, 10-year-old Malia.

"I said, 'Actually, that one is pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer,' " Obama told CNN recently. "At which point, Malia turns to me and says, 'First African-American president, better be good.' "

The story is light-hearted, but it touches on a delicate question: Will people hold Obama to a different standard because he is the first African-American president?

Full story


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. Barack H. Obama 100%

    No. He just has to be better than Bush 43. Just like any other president that would have succeeded Bush 43 if he were not the president!!!!

    January 24, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Wanderer

    He is non-white and now the president of the white majority country. We should know by now that he has already shown he is better than the past or future presidents who had or will have gone through the same path. The question ‘Will Obama have to be better because he's black?’ is not needed. Besides, because he was raised by his maternal relatives he should be able see both black and white. However, it is hopeful that he will not dwell himself on either black or white then he may become the best.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Randy Warren

    He's not black. He is part black. Why doesn't anyone understand how racist and derrogatory it is to say that anyone whose white blood is commingled with black blood becomes a black person. Look, he is half white and half black. If we call him white is it wrong? And if it is wrong, how can it then be right to call him black?

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Brenda C

    Thought S--A and M-A names should not be used politically in any way. They are private. I guess only when obama or michelle seem fit to use them. Sasha and Malia are fair game for reporters so get over it.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Trust

    That goes without saying. Every black person is judged on a different standard. For those who think differently you are wrong. All black parents tell there kids to do better than whites to get ahead. Just look at Palin the bumbling idiot. Do you thing a black person could get by like that and then become popular no way.

    January 24, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. John

    Ty shows that corporate America will steal any concept it deems profitable regardless of the insult, injury or misappropriation
    or inappropriateness of image it blatantly rips off. Ty should be made to pay a generous percentage of their profits from these dolls to charities of the First Daughters' choices. TY doesn't want to admit to this appropriation, because then they would owe the First Family something. That Ty refuses to own up to their inspiration of these dolls is reason to boycott all products made by Ty.
    Scumbag thieves are scumbag thieves are scumbag thieves.
    Ty, we're supposed to be over this graceless profit grabbing
    Bush is gone now...
    BOYCOTT TY...

    January 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Arden

    Yes, unfortunately he will always have to do better, be smarter, faster etc. Being black is a large part of this but not all of it. His age, his so-called inexperience, because the Democrats have taken over. etc. President Obama will be a good president, a thoughtful president, and will give his 200% everyday. He will not always be right. But he will make a difference.

    January 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. khunya

    Better than what ? Than his white predecessors?
    No, I don't think Americans care if the president is white, black, hispanic or of indian origin. Otherwise he wouldn't have been elected if the majority didn't trust him. Had Hillary won the primary and went on to win the election, would the same type of question come up because she was the first woman president of the U.S?
    I think it's quite ridiculous question. It played around on race issue.

    January 24, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Todd

    Yes – but he is going to be, so who cares!

    January 24, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. RON

    I have been an American 68 years and I hold Obama to the American Standards shared by my age group .... and Lou Dobbs.....there are no "different standards" ... Obama is not the first African-American president to me... he is the President and will need our support and help to bring this Country back in line with good solid American standards...he is not a God...he is a simple man with average knowledge.....

    January 24, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. mike

    Race has nothing to do with it. The color of ones skin is a zero as far as I am concerned. He should be held accountable for his actions, not what he looks like.

    January 24, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Gary Curran

    President Obama is NOT an African American. If he was, he would not be in the White House. He is a Negro, he is black. His father was African, but since the President was born in Hawaii, he is American.

    The usage of the term 'African American' to describe a Negro is, for the most part, unjust and unfair. In fact, I know or have known several African Americans, and only one of them was a Negro. The others were Caucasian. The usage of the term African American only further separates one American ethnic group from the others. In a time when the President wants to bring the country back together, to bring us all back to being Americans, this politically correct B.S. needs to stop. People need to start being what they are....Americans.

    I am not Irish American, or Western European American, or Christian American, or whatever other term you wish to hang on a person. I am an American. If you were born here, no matter the color of your skin, the racial ethnicity you belong to, YOU are an American too.

    Deal with it!

    January 24, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. earle,florida

    Maybe? Maybe Not! One thing is for certain, he has an IQ up there with Einstein,and that comforts me,not to mention his empathy commiserated with the less-fortunate,...

    January 24, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Bart

    Yes, but that is with everything we do.

    January 24, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. sully

    he has no choice!

    January 24, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Sandra M Boletchek

    President Obama has all the qualifications to make a great President regards of color. Sandy Boletchek

    January 24, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Mike in NYC

    Considering the endless excuses made by whites for black pathologies, with disparate outcomes invariably blamed on white perfidy, it's clear that blacks are generally held to lower standards, not higher ones.

    Anyway, it's already written in stone that he'll be judged a success. "History" demands it. Anything less will set back racial "progress." Next stop, Mount Rushmore.

    January 24, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. S.positive

    Get over this black and white trash and let us as a people focus on leaving a better nation for the next generation. For crying out loud...

    January 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Nikole

    Black people have been telling their children for years that they have to be twice as good as others in order to succeed. Why stop now? If Pres. Obama fails, it will be taken out on every future black Presidential candidate. I also think the same can be said for the first female President, which I expect to see in the coming years.

    January 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. JeroNL

    I certainly hope that people DON'T hold a diffrent standard. Why should they? It's wrong to count something (most of the time the negative things because those are the ones people remember) heavier because the person in charge is an African-American. Would it be worser if Obama waged war in Iraq than Bush? No it would be just as worse! I understand and accept that the presidency of Obama is extra special to African-Americans because history. I believe that with Obama as president, we are another step further in a post racism era, and that these kinds of discussions don't help us getting us further but slowing the process down!

    January 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Trill

    I do think he will have to work harder. I believe this because as a black male in corporate America, I feel I must work harder to negate stereotypes that have nothing to do with me. The majority of people actually believe what they see on TV and think that all balck males are only athletes, lazy, hip hop heads or disrespectful towards women. This is further from the truth for the majority of black males in corporate America. After Obama's tenure in the white house I believe the stereotypes will diminish because he will show the world that anyone of color can be successful. Close-minded people need to see this so they don't make generalizations about a certain race or color.

    January 24, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Penn Voter

    Right now Obama is still enjoying his messianic rise to glory on the sholders of America's media. In the eyes' of his cult he is the Golden Child and is untouchable.

    So pretty anything he says or does is beyond reproach.

    But come day 101, watch out. The honeymoon will be over.

    January 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. anthony

    No question. It would have been the same for anyone who is not a white male, and is the first of his or her group to be president. It is always toughest for the one who breaks a barrier first, no matter what the job is.

    January 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. aa-atlanta

    NO question about it, the higher expectations was evident in his campaign. Campbell Brown is a perfect example of how she hung on every word the President said in his campaign to compare
    negatively against the final decision he actually has to make after reviewing all the facts. Thank God there are so many intelligent
    folks of all races that resist this type of subconscious racism and
    will support President Obama to help this country.

    January 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Outspoken

    If Obama had been a white man (or white woman) with the exact same qualifications, education, and name recognition, how serious would his campaign had been taken by the media back in January 2007? Would he (or she) be president right now? Let's be honest with ourselves. Obama's ethnicity has worked very well for him up to this point. I don't see it changing anytime soon. (The correct answer to the title is "no.")

    January 24, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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