Top black journalist hammers Obama for playing ‘healer-in-chief’ while Holder stokes racial fears

Talk about playing it both ways.

President Obama’s decision to send Attorney General Eric Holder to Missouri to try to ease racial tensions is a transparent attempt to try to play “racial healer-in-chief” at the same time he’s exploiting racial tensions for political gain, one of the country’s top black journalists said. And he’s using the wrong messenger to do it.

In an appearance on Fox News’ “Special Report” Tuesday, Jason Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, called out Obama for trading on the “optics” of federal intervention into the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer in the town of Ferguson.

If the message is to show the government is truly interested in a just outcome of the investigation into the death of Michael Brown, Riley said, Holder is not the man for the job.

“Holder’s going, but Holder’s the same man who’s been traipsing the country telling us that white Republicans are trying to disenfranchise black voters with voter ID laws, even though polls show the majority of blacks support voter ID,” Riley said.

“This administration has no problem dividing us by race when it suits its own political purposes,” Riley said — by getting angry minorities to turn out for Democrats in a mid-term election when Obama himself will not be on the ballot.

“So now he’s trying to turn around and play racial healer here, and I don’t think he can have it both ways.”

Riley hammered hard on Holder’s past statements that blamed racism for the level of criticism Republicans have aimed at the administration. That kind of talk does nothing to help a situation like the one in Ferguson, he said.

“These looters and rioters do not need to hear from the attorney general that criticism of Obama is race-based,” Riley said.

“What they need to hear from this black man in this position – the nation’s leading law enforcement official – is that they need to stay out of trouble with the law. They need to pull up their pants and finish school and take care of their kids.

“That is the message they need to hear from black leaders and people in positions of authority, like Eric Holder and Barack Obama.”

The problem with that, though, is there’s no political payoff in it for a president trying to play it both ways.

Joining Riley on the “Special Report” panel were Philip Bump, political reporter for the Washington Post, and Dana Perino, a co-host on Fox’s “The Five.”

Check out the segment here.

 

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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