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. Reality

    No, he will be held to lower expectations.

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

    Yes ... yes .... yes!!! Otherwise the white America will fry him!

    And, this has been my experience as a non-white in corporate America.

    January 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Duop, Colorado Springs, CO

    It is just a moral quesion - crazy and funny.

    January 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. cnnnewser

    Of course he will.
    All eyes are watching him and the pundits poised and ready to strike.
    Course, the republican pundits have skewered him since day one – and Michelle has been the target of lies and innuendo that has shamed our country as a people.
    I hope CNN will rise above the political nastyness and be fair to him and his family.

    January 24, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Mark

    He just needs to be fair. Don't play the race card where it is not needed... that is done enough in other areas.

    January 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. MK

    One just has to read the posts on this blog to understand that question has already been answered. Read the ones that call him the "messiah" or tout him as a celebrity or make light of his minor children being taken advantage of. I even read one that said the stock market has been down three days in a row all because of him. The American public is very partisian and some people are very protective of W or compare the doll issue to Palin's kids/grandkid. It is very personal to many. So, yes, he must be better because he is black. Anything short of a complete recovery in the next week will bring out the worst of the right wing, they have very short memories.

    January 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Kate

    Obama was given a free ride by the press because of his race and as a result we have a President with virtually no experience who has never been truly vetted. If the American people were willing to ignore his race and his experience before the election then why would it matter now – when the election is over? The idea of such post election racism is something that I suspect is being floated by the Obama supporters so they have something to trot out when their Idol crashes and burns.

    Btw, whites will be a minority by 2050 so when exactly does the press plan to stop jabbering about race?

    January 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. catmom

    Of course he does and that is the reason he will work doubly hard to turn this country around. Not only does President Obama have a hard job to do to try and bring this country back, he has the weight of all Black America on his shoulders. For if he doesn't do his best or if he is involved in a scandal the first thing that will be said was he failed because he was Black. America is lucky to have him as President because he knows that what he does will have more of an impact than just improving the economy and ending the wars. With his success comes our success, Americas success
    By the way, It would also be the same if a woman had been elected President. She would have had to work doubly hard as well and her failure or success would have had an impact on all women.
    Now we will know that all people given the right circumstance are capable of doing great things or not.

    January 24, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. onlyjustwords

    I think people will hold him to the same standard as all the other presidents— but when they do, he will let himself off the hook because he's half Black. His daughters seem to me to be very bold for girls their age, and I am wondering if they are the ones who will be running the oval office. They come off spoiled and loose-lipped. It's time these people learned their place. They are there to serve the American people, not show off or to prove the merits of their racial heritage. Most people do not care what color he is. I see that it may feel as though this is a mark of progress— his skin color, but to me, this is only true of he "frees" all the other Blacks who are oppressed by the current system. Tell him to go to South Central L.A. and preach there about what a mark of progress his election is, and then maybe I'll start buying into the all the ridiculous hooplah.

    January 24, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Truth Speaker

    Man come off this. CNN post something better. This is ridiculous. Who cares if he is black, white, hispanic, or asian. As long as we have a great President that can get this economy out of the hole and more money into our pockets I am fine. People like to come up with ridiculous stories!!

    January 24, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Beverly-NYC

    When you're the first anything you are held to a higher standard. Not only do you have to do a good job for yourself but you have the added burden of "representing" the race or gender. If he fails it will be a long time before any minority (Latin, Asian, female etc) is elected to the Presidency. Because the inevitible comparison will be in the back of peoples minds whether conscious or not, we tried with Obama and look what happened. Sad but true.

    January 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Independant from NY

    *Cue the pseudo-conservatives preaching something about "white guilt" and how we all have it.

    Not only will he be held to a higher standard (and already has) but now he has a BIG target on his back. He will be held to twice the standards Bush was.

    January 24, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Corey

    Interesting. I believe governor Palin had similar complaints about her children being exploited and she was told by media that if you are going to have your children in the spotlight, you can't complain when they are used. I guess what goes around comes around... You can't have it both ways first lady!

    January 24, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Dawn

    I do not think so, we want jobs, we need money so we could buy new cars. He maybe the first Black President, I as an American citizen expect from him to not make the same mistakes that Bush/Cheney made in 8 years. Hiding things from us...their excuse it is not in the best interest in the American people...How lame!
    Remember he is not Harry Potter waving his magic wand and poof we are automatically rich.

    My advice is wait, if he does do what he says he will do, we will be better off. To the ones who did not vote for him, and yelling where is my money, ah guess what you just might have more in your paycheck and you might just be able to go out and buy a green car or a new house or go on vacation.

    I like to see him succed and put us back on the right track!

    January 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. KofTX

    For as long as Black people have been in this country, each of us that have been under the spotlight (for good or ill) has been seen as the de facto representative of our whole ethnic group. And because we are fully aware of this, those individuals have had to bear the weight of our expectations. This results in excellence being seen as the only acceptable criteria for that individual. However, I do think that because of the overall political awareness of the American public concerning the economy and foreign policy (and because they don't contribute the country's current state to Pres. Obama), they will have more patience with him.

    January 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. PEACE ON EARTH

    I think we have ALREADY SEEN just how 'EASY' he will have it.

    With the White Supemists, Christian Right, EXTREMISTS like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, how can he have it 'EASY'?

    I have now catagorized them (RL,GB & AC) WITH the Islamic Extremist Terrorists. Yes, THEY ARE American Terrorists.

    When someone like Mr. Limbaugh says, and I quote "I want him (Obama) to Fail", he in turn is telling the American People who still listen to him, that he wants AMERICA TO FAIL.

    To me, that's an American Terrorist.

    Just a little food for thought........You can still think for yourselves, can't you?

    Blessed Be to All

    January 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Ernie in LA

    Black or White, he needs to deliver on his promises that got him elected. America is waiting for his "Miracles."

    January 24, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. bk

    The news media already has and gave him a break on everything. Not to mention trashing Clinton, Palin, and McCain in the process. You should all be fired for your bias.

    January 24, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Bea

    As a person of color, i have had this on my mind...i think the pressure is there to perform at par as other races have had an unfavorable view of the black race. SOme people i know are already convinced that Obama is going to fail because he is black and he has no idea what he is doing....it hurt to hear that but it was said. His intelligence means nothing to these people but I know Barack will prove these ignorant idiots wrong.

    January 24, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. daniel cabrera

    Oh! no! , that is totally irrelevant.Pres Obama is very educated man, that is not in dispute.What he has to do is to help this country utilizing logical aproach to the situations at hand.

    He IS NOT ! doing that at this point.

    At this point it seems that is gathering the WORST elements in his cabinet,... destroying the economy more and more with a flimplsy and vane crilteria.
    In addition , making believe that he IS listening and interesting to the view–points of others people with different focusing of the problematic,....AND THAT IS DANGEROUS !,.....AMERICANS CAN TAKE ONLY SO MUCH AND THE LETARGIC CUASI-HYPNOTIC PHASE OF THE OBAMA-MANIA IS GOING TO THE END AT FAST SPEED !

    If Obama really wants to be aclaimed as an historical leader with real and undisputed change,.....HE HAS/MUST TO BRAKE WITH HIS VERY OWN ROOTS OF PEOPLE THAT GAVE THIM THE PLATEAU IN THE POLILTICAL SPECTRUM ( which everyone knows is completely corrupted !)

    Then, as he does that, turn to the logical ways fundamental in values and the basics CAPITALIST-DEMOCRATIC WITH FREE ENTERPRISE THAT CHARACTERIZE THIS GREAT LAND !.

    True, he might look like a conservative /republican down to the basis – just as Sarah Palin did in Alaska – but does NOT ! matters, ...what is important is the TRUE RECUPERATION OF THIS COUNTRY .

    But then , again, I wander if this is too much to ask from him,....I wander if he is, after all, for only POWER, CONTROL, SPECTACULAR AND VANE IMAGE – just like american idol silly tv presentation ...??? well, time will tell.

    But if this is his true agenda?,.....I do not believe he will make another term as president.

    Sincerely,
    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    January 24, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Anne

    Obama will have to be better not because he's black but because we need him to be.

    The difficulties that he has inherited are so large and so numerous that he will have to be, in my opinion, the best president this country has ever had.

    January 24, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Janey

    Is this Obama exploiting the children, yet again?

    January 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. LLT

    President Obama will be held to higher standards because of the goals and policies he has set for himself and his country. For example Bush wanted to shut down Gitmo but didn't have the guts to do it.

    It is unfortunate that the American "news" sources didn't set higher standards for jounalism by basing reports on background research, using experts to give extensive background instead of relying on rumor, anonymous sources and so called pundits like Campbell, Ed Henry and Dobbs who run off at the mouth with absolutely no background knowledge or even the latest facts on the topics they are talking about.

    January 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. paul kyler

    Yes he will thankfully.
    Because the people in the minority communities who supported him by the widest of margins are going to be more attentive to what he does.

    January 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Prove the 48 percent wrong

    NO, he wil be held to a different standard because he promised the world and will only be able to deliver the superficial fluff that the media and his sheep lap up like dumb kittens.

    Barry, you close gitmo with NO PLAN on what to do with the TERRORISTS?

    Horrible picks in Holder, Geithner and Richardson. Good job Barry.

    Barry, you use my tax money to fund ABORTIONS all over the world, great idea genius.

    Barry, we ALL know that we need to act fast on the financial situation, but fast and WRONG are two different things, how dare you want to cut a check for people that DON'T pay taxes, that's not a rebate, it's welfare.

    Cut the capital gains tax for two years and get the small businesses hiring again as that is the sector that creates the most jobs.

    Handing people checks doesn't work, and only making jobs to union hacks to pave a road, will not help all of us.

    You don't have to agree with the Republicans, but cutting the capital gains tax and giving small business loans FOR REGULAR FOLKS IS A GOOD IDEA, no need to be arrogant, just be smart with MY MONEY.

    No need to take a poll there genius, that is a fact.

    I am glad Bush is gone, but this is the best we could have done?

    Uh, uh, uh empty, empty vessel.

    January 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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