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. Daniel Wagle

    I think given the bleakness of the situation on many fronts, the times demand that he be great, even better than Bill Clinton was. I also think it is true that blacks are held to higher and different standards than whites are.

    January 24, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. jason

    race shouldn't matter any more. people need to get off this race thing now. dosen't matter if he's white,black,green, purple, he's a human being period. we need to show this man some respect after all he's our president he has to fix all the problems caused by former president bush. atleast this man is trying to get soemthing done.

    January 24, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Len

    Of Course. Look at CNN now....The First 100 Days!!!

    We never worried what Bush did in his first or second 100 days, needless to say, his 8 years!!!!

    Just watch Fox news, MSNBC, and of course CNN....The guy will never get a break and I am sure everything will be his fault! Just look at FOX NEWS....he is already to blame for our problems!!!

    We as Americans need to wake up and shut down Fox News and all those un patriotic right wing conservative talking heads....Rush L. and Hanity for example! They will continue to destroy America!

    January 24, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Southerner

    Obama will have to be better because he's been overhyped, mostly by his own words. Remember that he's the one who said that this would be the moment that global warming would begin to stop, the seas would recede, the environment would begin to heal etc. He's been sold as a messianic figure and now he will be unable to live up to the hype.

    He's an average (at best) politician with very little experience and no real new ideas. Hope and change was really hype and bs.

    January 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Frank

    I don't believe Americans or the rest of the world for that matter, should hold Obama to a different standard. The fact is Obama is a pretty smart guy and so far everything he touches or does comes out successful. We are getting used to all that success and even one failure will not be acceptable.
    I hope we all calm down and give the man a chance to show us his stuff

    January 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    For some people, whatever Obama does will not be good enough. You had to really determined NOT to be impressed with the January 20 ceremony. My kleenex box took quite a beating.

    January 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Eric


    January 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. virginia for obama

    As a Afrian American myself the answer is "NO". He did not run for president by using the race card. . . The people voted for him because he was the most intelligent CHOICE.

    P.S. The Man is half white too. So please stop labeling him.

    January 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. steve r.

    Why bring up the race issue? You need to give the racists and haters a chance to comment and then us supporters have to defend him? BRING US TOGETHER,NOT DIVID US!!!

    January 24, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. THE O

    You know he does, just like if Hillary would have won she would have to do better too, We had 43 old white men before him. Now he has the whole of black America sitting on his shoulders. The only good point is the fact that noone can be a bigger screw up then bush, but Obama has great intelegence on his side so there is nothing to worry about!!!!!!!

    January 24, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Texas Trail Kitty

    I believe people – read conservatives – will hold this president to a higher standard. Conservatives allowed Bush to literally destroy this country without a sound, not a whimper. But they will be screaming and bellyaching continuously while President Obama tries to fix the mess he was left. The Republicans in the congress and senate are already making pests of themselves. I think President Obama will do fine, just fine. He won't be able to fix everything, I believe, but I think he will leave America a better place than it is now.

    January 24, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. the truth

    who cares why he has to be better? he better be better. we need him to be.

    i voted for Obama not because I am young and he is young, not because I am familiar with facebook and so is he, not because he represents the makeup of the country, because he is black (mulato actually, white mother, black father), a mutt like me, etc.

    i voted for him because he was simply the better candidate and the right person at the right time.

    I am tired of race. it is so base and simple to think about and discuss race. it only divides, never connects.

    January 24, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Dianne Burks

    NO !!, But he is a very smart intellectual man. I beleive he will not do any worse then what we have had done to this country in the last eight years. The President started working on his promises before he was sworn in and after he took the oath he dove right in to his postion and has started working on his promises to American like he said he would. Don't knock President Obama!!!!! Give him a chance to correct what has been missed up.

    January 24, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Jean Bryant

    You better believe it!

    January 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. karen

    i feel he will be pressured from the left and the right and also this job he has is not and easy one, i hope the people of the united states have patience with him to aloud him to do what he needs to do, to get the job done

    January 24, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. katiec

    What a stupid, irrelevent question.
    The American people do not see our new president as black or white, but a person they support and respect to do what is right for our country. But, the media has to keep the race issue in the forefront and try to keep it stirred up. Give it a break and let our country try to get back on it's feet with as little diversion as possible.

    January 24, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Sue

    This probably is true, just as Hillary would have been held to a higher standard and closer scrutiny had she won. America may be a melting pot, but the ingredients still have not blended into one. Malia is one smart little girl!

    January 24, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    He is only 12% Black and raised by white people, quit trying to make this about race.

    January 24, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Neville

    I have no doubt the when this man is finished his job of being President of the United States, that he will have done a better job than previous presidents, in fact he will set the standard for what it really means to do the job of being President Of The United States and it will be quite high. So take note future candidates.

    January 24, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Chris McTaggart

    He will do just fine! He is an American first and represents the people a thousand more times than Georgie Boy!!

    January 24, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. lr

    my answer to question :
    "....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?"

    they should not....he is a person first, then he is a president, then he is of certain color ( aren't we all of certain color? be it white, pink, ivory, cinnamon, coffee late, indian color, red, blue green, black, yellow, polka dotted color – ;-)... ). It is time to stop this race divisions and comparing, and all that.
    He is a human. It does not matter what color he is, his mind, personality is important. His ability to lead, to care about us, world is important. The color of skin does not make anyone better or worse. this is ridiculous article.

    January 24, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. Bob F.

    I don't think so. I think that most of America is giving him a chance to be just the President–Not BLACK, Not WHITE, just President. I voted for Barack Obama because I believe in him to lead this country. Not because he's was born to a white mom and a black dad. That's irrelevant, and anyone with an ounce of sense should look at him as a man. Not at color. President Obama is concerned with ALL of America. Not just the black part, or the white part or the brown, yellow, red or gay part. He is President of all the citizens, and he will do his job. I knew it when I saw him speak at the Democratic National Convention 4 years ago, and I know it now. This is the man who will lead this country with honor, and will restore us to the leaders we once were in this world.

    January 24, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. IC2TREES

    He has to do a better job because that’s what we need to get back on track. Black, Hispanic, Asian or whatever it doesn’t really matter to those who are suffering. We need jobs and a stable economy again. I believe Mr. Obama has the decision making skills to move this Country forward and I support him for his caricature and vision as most Americans do

    January 24, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Stereotypes are tough to beat

    He had to be perfect, if he invoked race it looked like he was using it as a crutch, if he would have showed anger during the election he would of been painted an angry black man. When he said I don't look like the guys on the dollar bill, suddenly it was race baiting. The night he won the Democratic nominations he fist bumped his wife and a fox news commentator said and I quote "A terrorist fist bump!!!"

    Oh Yeah he'll be held to a higher standard alright...

    January 24, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Briordy Meyers

    It averages it out. The very fact you ask this question instead of 'Will he get an artificial boost because he's black?' and mainstream America is scared of criticism and allegations of racism, is kind of begging the question. Ask that question. I know it sounds more racist but is really just the opposite side of the same coin. I.e., why aren't you worried about your question being racist? Pandering to racial sensitivity is about as racist as not pandering to it.

    January 24, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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