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A bizarre attack on Obama

Melvin B. Miller

From the time when he first ran for president, some Americans have asserted that Barack Obama is not qualified. Opposing whites rallied behind the “birther” movement that claimed Obama was foreign-born and therefore failed to meet the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural born Citizen … of the United States.” Also, some blacks complained that Obama was not authentic because his African ancestors did not experience the historical racial oppression in America.

Now comes Professor Michael Eric Dyson to assert that if elected president, Hillary Clinton will accomplish more for blacks than Obama ever did.

Obama’s achievements have been so extensive, one wonders how Dyson could make such a claim. At the top of the list of Obama’s accomplishments is passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Martin Luther King Jr. once claimed that “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Many presidents before Obama had tried to pass such a law and failed. In fact, Bill Clinton’s effort to pass health care in 1993 flopped and was derisively called “Hillarycare.” So the record is already 1-to-0 in favor of Obama.

The ACA was merely the crown jewel of Obama’s efforts that especially benefitted blacks. By executive order he arranged for $850 million to fund historically black colleges and universities over the next 10 years. He also arranged for black farmers who had been discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture to receive $1.2 billion in damages.

Obama has also used the bully pulpit of the presidency to lead reform of the criminal justice system which has been so oppressive to African Americans. He signed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. He also is commuting the sentences of non-violent drug offenders. His appointment of Eric Holder as Attorney General sent the message that he wanted strong reform action to be taken.

Despite such an outstanding record of achievement, Dyson has the temerity to assert that Obama did not “embrace his blackness” and reach out to the people. What then is “My Brother’s Keeper” program about? One wonders if Dyson is distressed that Obama did not maintain a special friendship with him. Dyson’s former mentor, Cornel West, reportedly became enraged when his expectation of presidential companionship was rejected.

Perhaps Dyson suffers from a lesser dose of the same malaise. Why would anyone reasonably demean the president’s achievements and assert without evidence that Hillary will do better?