Since President Obama first stepped into the White House in 2009, he’s tried his best to avoid the controversial topic of race. He’s perfected the art of skimming across the issue in interviews and strategically going there without really going there.
Well, the two-term President has finally opened up about life as America’s first Black Commander in Chief, admitting that the job comes with its share of haters.
“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama told The New Yorker in an interview for his 17,000-word profile in the magazine’s Jan. 27 issue. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some Black folks and maybe some White folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a Black President.”
The POTUS went on to say that his party has often times ignored “the concerns of middle- and working-class folks, Black or White.”
“And this was one of the great gifts of Bill Clinton to the Party—to say, you know what, it’s entirely legitimate for folks to be concerned about getting mugged, and you can’t just talk about police abuse,” he explained. “How about folks not feeling safe outside their homes? It’s all fine and good for you to want to do something about poverty, but if the only mechanism you have is raising taxes on folks who are already feeling strapped, then maybe you need to widen your lens a little bit. And I think that the Democratic Party is better for it.”
As far has his legacy, Obama revealed that presidents have limited power to change and must operate through the currents of history.
“[D]espite being the greatest President, in my mind, in our history, it took another hundred and fifty years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality,” he said of Abraham Lincoln. “I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”
Magazine editor David Remnick concluded the story by writing, “I just wanted to add one thing to that business about the great-man theory of history. The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” Obama then added, “Not ‘probably’. It’s definitely a good thing.”