Slatest PM: Obama Surprises With Personal Talk About Trayvon and Race

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 19 2013 4:42 PM

Slatest PM: Obama Surprises With Personal Talk About Trayvon and Race

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Obama speaks frankly on the death of Trayvon Martin.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Obama Gets Personal: CBS News: "In some of his most extensive comments on U.S. race relations since entering the White House, President Obama on Friday gave a very personal perspective of the shooting ... Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman, offering an explanation for why the case has created so much anxiety within the African-American community. … After a Florida jury on Saturday acquitted Zimmerman of murder, Mr. Obama gave a decidedly muted response, noting that the Justice Department was reviewing the case. Some civil rights leaders called for more action from the administration of the nation's first African-American president."

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What He Said: "When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away. There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator." Full transcript here; video here.

Instant Analysis: Washington Post: "Obama has spoken about race before — most notably in a 2008 address designed to calm the furor over his relationship with controversial African American pastor Jeremiah Wright. But, that speech was quite clearly carefully rehearsed and planned in the context of a heated campaign .... Obama and his team knew they had to address the issue in order to move beyond it and he did so. His remarks today were different. George Zimmerman ... was found not guilty six days ago. President Obama had already released the sort of carefully calibrated statement on race that has been a marker of his handling of the issue as a candidate and as president. In other words, he didn’t need to speak more fully on Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and race in America. He chose to. And, unlike the Wright speech, Obama seemed to be largely speaking off the cuff. There was no TelePrompTer. ...  This was no rollout—as Obama admitted—of 'some five-point plan.' It was the first black president of the United States speaking at a remarkably personal level about his own experiences with race in this country."

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(More) Trouble for Detroit: Reuters: "A Michigan judge on Friday ordered Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager to withdraw the federal bankruptcy petition he filed for the city on Thursday. ... Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's order said the 2012 Michigan law that allowed Governor Rick Snyder to approve the city's bankruptcy filing ... violated the Michigan Constitution. The declaratory judgment came in lawsuits filed this month by Detroit pension funds, retirees and workers, which sought to prevent a bankruptcy filing that would ultimately impair retirement benefits in violation of constitutional protections for those benefits."

Texas Introduces 6-Week Abortion Ban: Houston Chronicle: “Hours after Texas Republican lawmakers finalized some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country and Planned Parenthood announced it would close three southeast Texas clinics, Republicans filed a bill to ban abortions as early as six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, filed House Bill 59 Thursday, which would ban abortions ‘if it has been determined… that the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat.’”

Israel-Palestine Talks May Come Soon: NBC News: “Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork to resume stalled peace talks. Addressing reporters before he flew back from the Jordanian capital of Amman, Kerry announced ‘an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.’ Peace talks broke down in 2010. He said his negotiating counterparts will join him in Washington, D.C. next week or ‘shortly thereafter,’ but that he will be the one making public comments on behalf of the whole group.”

House Passes “No Child Left Behind” Overhaul: Washington Post: “House Republicans passed a bill Friday to reduce the federal role in public education and cede back to states decisions about how to deal with failing schools, how and whether to evaluate teachers, and how to spend much of the money sent by Washington to educate poor, disabled and non-English speaking students. It marks a significant departure from No Child Left Behind, the 2002 law that set federal goals for academic achievement and penalties for schools that fell short of those goals, as well as prescriptions for steps states must take to improve failing schools. … While its passage marked a victory for Republican leaders, the bill’s future is cloudy. President Obama has threatened to veto it, and Senate Democrats have crafted their own version that retains much of the current federal oversight of K-12 public education.”

Rumblings of 2016: Wall Street Journal: “Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, both possible contenders for the 2016 presidential race, are in Iowa on Friday, reaching out to voters in the critical early-voting state. Paul, of Kentucky, will meet Friday with evangelical Christian, African American and Latino leaders, his political action committee said. Cruz, a Texan, will headline the Iowa Republican Party’s summer picnic and also speak to Christian leaders. The Hawkeye State holds the country’s first presidential caucuses.”

A Few More Quick Hits from Slate:

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