Black and White Standards


The Washington Post (10/25/2012), in giving President Barack Obama an endorsement for another four years, wrote, “Much of the 2012 presidential campaign has dwelt on the past, but the key questions are who could better lead the country during the next four years — and, most urgently, who is likelier to put the government on a more sound financial footing.” The suggestion appears to be that a president is not to be held accountable to his promises and past record and that his past record is no indication of his future behavior. Possibly, the Washington Post people believe that a black president shouldn’t be held accountable to his record and campaign promises. Let’s look at it.

What about Obama’s pledge to cut the deficit in half during his first term in office? Instead, we saw the first trillion-dollar deficit ever, under any president of the United States. Plus, it has been followed by trillion-dollar deficits in every year of his administration. What about Obama’s pledge of transparency, in which his legislative proposals would be placed on the Internet days before Congress voted on them so that Americans could inspect them? Obama’s major legislative proposal, Obamacare, was enacted in such secrecy and with such speed that even members of Congress did not have time to read it. Remember that it was Rep. Nancy Pelosi who told us, “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what is in it.” What about Obama’s stimulus packages and promises to get unemployment under control? The Current Employment Statistics program shows that in 2008, the total number of U.S. jobs was more than 138 million, compared with 133.5 million today. As Stanford University economics professor Edward Lazear summed it up, “there hasn’t been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office.”

While Obama’s national job approval rating is a little less than 50 percent, among blacks his job approval is a whopping 88 percent. I’d like to ask people who approve of Obama’s performance, “What has President Obama done during the past four years that you’d like to see more of in the next four years?”

Black support of politicians who have done little or nothing for their ordinary constituents is by no means unusual. Blacks are chief executives of major cities, such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Oakland, Newark, Cleveland and Cincinnati. In most of these cities, the chief of police, the superintendent of schools and other high executives are black. But in these cities, black people, like no other sector of our population, suffer from the highest rates of homicides, assaults, robberies and shootings. Black high-school dropout rates in these cities are the highest in the nation. Even if a black youngster manages to graduate from high school, his reading, writing and computational proficiency is likely to be equivalent to that of a white seventh- or eighth-grader. That’s even with school budgets per student being among the highest in the nation.

Last year, in reference to President Obama’s failed employment policies and high unemployment among blacks, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, “If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.” That’s a vision that seems to explain black tolerance for failed politicians — namely, if it’s a black politician whose policies are ineffectual and possibly harmful to the masses of the black community, it’s tolerable, but it’s entirely unacceptable if the politician is white.

Black people would not accept excuses upon excuses and vote to re-elect decade after decade any white politician, especially a Republican politician, to office who had the failed records of our big-city mayors. What that suggests about black people is not very flattering.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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