Obama Faces Growing Expectations on Race and Policing

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-21 18:02Z by Steven

Obama Faces Growing Expectations on Race and Policing

The New York Times

Julie Hirschfeld Davis

WASHINGTON — At the White House last week, DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist who was arrested only days before in Baton Rouge, La., for protesting police violence against African-Americans, had a lengthy list of demands for President Obama.

The president should visit Baton Rouge and other cities where black men have been killed by police officers, appoint special prosecutors to investigate the deaths and use his executive power to force changes in police departments across the country, Mr. Mckesson said.

The next day, a distraught Erica Garner, whose father, Eric Garner, was killed in 2014 by a New York City police officer who placed him in a chokehold, accosted Mr. Obama after a televised town-hall-style meeting with demands of her own. Why have no police officers been convicted or sent to jail for killing black men, and what was he doing to rid police departments of the tactical military equipment that made community protest routes resemble war zones, she asked.

As Mr. Obama responds to the latest in fatal confrontations between police officers and black men — this time followed by lethal attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge on law enforcement officers by black gunmen — he has also confronted a growing list of expectations that young black activists have placed on him…

Read the entire article here.

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The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-20 19:05Z by Steven

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

New York University Press
224 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479853717
Paper ISBN: 9781479819256

Melanye T. Price, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick

Nearly a week after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, President Obama walked into the press briefing room and shocked observers by saying that “Trayvon could have been me.” He talked personally and poignantly about his experiences and pointed to intra-racial violence as equally serious and precarious for black boys. He offered no sweeping policy changes or legislative agendas; he saw them as futile. Instead, he suggested that prejudice would be eliminated through collective efforts to help black males and for everyone to reflect on their own prejudices.

Obama’s presidency provides a unique opportunity to engage in a discussion about race and politics. In The Race Whisperer, Melanye Price analyzes the manner in which Barack Obama uses race strategically to engage with and win the loyalty of potential supporters. This book uses examples from Obama’s campaigns and presidency to demonstrate his ability to authentically tap into notions of blackness and whiteness to appeal to particular constituencies. By tailoring his unorthodox personal narrative to emphasize those parts of it that most resonate with a specific racial group, he targets his message effectively to that audience, shoring up electoral and governing support. The book also considers the impact of Obama’s use of race on the ongoing quest for black political empowerment. Unfortunately, racial advocacy for African Americans has been made more difficult because of the intense scrutiny of Obama’s relationship with the black community, Obama’s unwillingness to be more publicly vocal in light of that scrutiny, and the black community’s reluctance to use traditional protest and advocacy methods on a black president. Ultimately, though, The Race Whisperer argues for a more complex reading of race in the age of Obama, breaking new ground in the study of race and politics, public opinion, and political campaigns.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Barack Obama and Black Blame: Authenticity, Audience and Audaciousness
  • 2. Barack Obama, Patton’s Army, and Patriotic Whiteness
  • 3. Barack Obama’s More Perfect Union
  • 4. An Officer and Two Gentlemen: The Great Beer Summit of 2009
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author
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Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope by Mark S. Ferrara (review) [Williamson]

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-07-19 01:23Z by Steven

Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope by Mark S. Ferrara (review) [Williamson]

Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Vollume 18, Number 4, Winter 2015
pages 748-750

Jason G. Williamson
Department of Communication Studies
University of Georgia

Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope. By Mark S. Ferrara. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2013; pp. 204. $45.00 paper.

In Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope, Mark S. Ferrara attempts to piece together the historical, intellectual, and literary influences of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign rhetoric, primarily as the “rhetoric of hope” was constructed leading up to the 2008 campaign and employed during that campaign, as well as its reemergence for 2012. Ferrara defines the rhetoric of hope as “deliberately constructed political discourse that envisions social betterment brought about by the force of shared values and culminating in a promise of a ‘more perfect union’ in the future” (11). The utopian idealism that percolates throughout Obama’s campaign discourse is of particular interest to Ferrara, especially as American rhetorical tropes are employed to discursively construct Obama as a “quasi-prophetic” figure who possesses the leadership skills necessary to move the country closer to collective salvation (14–15). Ferrara repeatedly observes the rhetoric of hope relying on a dialectical tension between the ideal and the actual, promising to transform the current status quo into a salvific telos.

The book is primarily organized into two major sections, with the first half (chapters 1–5) dedicated to locating historical and literary influences of Obama’s rhetoric of hope and the second half (chapters 6–10) investigating the values and characteristics of this rhetoric, concluding with a comparison of Obama’s two presidential campaigns. The opening chapters outline the manner in which utopian tropes derived from Judeo-Christian thought (chapter 1) as well as the European Enlightenment (chapter 2) influence Obama’s rhetoric. In the three chapters that follow, Ferrara continues [End Page 748] pulling on individual threads, such as slave narratives (chapter 3); the presidential traditions of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt (chapter 4); and the influence of fiction, music, and popular culture (chapter 5), arguing that these threads, woven together, form Obama’s rhetoric of hope.

In the second half, Ferrara moves beyond the antecedents of the rhetoric of hope, presenting a reading of Obama’s campaign rhetoric as an amalgam of multiple influences. Chapter 6 analyzes the role of American values in the rhetoric of hope, culminating in Obama’s embodiment of the American Dream, a combination of individual determination and community awareness with a heavy emphasis on “work” as an operative term, a theme that the president continues in his second term, as evident in the most recent State of the Union address. Ferrara approaches Obama’s discourse with an Aristotelian conception of rhetoric and places a heavy emphasis on the deliberate decisions of the rhetor, highlighting Obama’s role as a writing subject constructing his own narrative persona in chapter 7. Ferrara, an assistant professor of English at State University of New York at Oneonta, reads Obama’s autobiographical narratives as an effort in which Obama “casts himself as a prophet of change situated by virtue of his unique American story to usher in a new global order” (135). Ferrara locates Obama within the tradition of political autobiographical works in American history “from John Smith to Benjamin Franklin to Malcolm X,” arguing that Obama intentionally constructs his own story in such a way as to build on American mythologies (125). The climax is perhaps seen in Obama’s 2008 tour of the Middle East and Europe (chapter 8), where his narrative positions Obama as a figure that can unite American ideals with a global, multicultural audience. The final two chapters track the continuation of the 2008 campaign themes in 2011 and 2012, underscoring the claim that “the rhetoric of hope contains a neat circularity that is the product of intentional design” (187). Whether by intent or not, the characteristics of the rhetoric of hope obviously manifest in Obama’s campaigns.

Throughout, Ferrara’s analysis casts light on many aspects of Obama’s rhetoric that the reader will find intuitive. Although his prose is occasionally too driven by quotations and not enough of the author’s own voice, the text and analysis is accessible for a wide audience. Readers who study presidential rhetoric will immediately note the pronounced absence…

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Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope by Mark S. Ferrara (review) [Ellis]

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2016-07-19 00:24Z by Steven

Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope by Mark S. Ferrara (review) [Ellis]

Utopian Studies
Volume 27, Number 2, 2016
pages 382-386

Cameron Ellis
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Mark S. Ferrara. Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2013. 204 pp. Paper, $29.95, isbn 978-0-7864-6793-8

Mark S. Ferrara’s principle scholarly interests lie within the fields of religious studies and Asian philosophy, as indicated on his State University of New York–Oneonta English faculty page and demonstrated in his other books Between Noble and Humble: Cao Xueqin and the Dream of the Red Chamber (co-edited with Ronald R. Gray, Peter Lang, 2009) and Palace of Ashes: China and the Decline of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015). However, it is his interests in rhetoric and political discourse, cultural studies, and world literature that make Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope such an insightful and pleasant contribution to the commentary on and criticism of the outgoing president. Ferrara wastes no time using his resources to contextualize the significance his study of the president has—especially as of 2008, which saw Obama being elected for the first time—by citing a Chinese proverb: “chaotic times make heroes (shi shi zao ying xiong)” (19). Although not mentioned explicitly, this proverb alludes to Obama’s inheritance of an extremely precarious geopolitical situation left festering by the Bush administration. (In fact, even though I wanted him to “go there,” Ferrara steers clear of the dangerous intricacies entwining Obama’s legacy in terms of Bush’s. The first explicit mention of Bush does not even appear until page 99.) Not only is this book a wonderful contribution to the study of American history and political science, but also it is a decidedly welcome addition to utopian studies by way of its analysis of one of the most important figures to date.

The advantage that adopting a utopian analytic in such a case study as Obama is that Ferrara liberates the conversation he seeks to facilitate from regressing into polemics and partisan politics, the kind that one sees most negatively worked out in other works on the president such as Stanley Kurts’s Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism (Simon and Schuster, 2010), Dinesh D’souza’s Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream (Regnery Publishing, 2012), and Bob Thiel’s Barack Obama, Prophesy, and the Destruction of the United States (Nazarene Books, 2012), which read into the president signs and symptoms of America’s downfall. While it is quite clear that Ferrara is a champion of Obama, it never feels as though he is hitting his reader over the head with his views. Rather, Ferrara encourages his reader to recall that, regardless of one’s political alliance, Obama ran two successful campaigns on a positive message: hope. One of the greatest strengths of Ferrara’s book resides in his skill of presenting this aspect of the president while refraining from sentimentalism and nostalgia. Instead the reader is offered a well-researched piece of scholarly labor by one of the best in the field of rhetoric and political discourse.

I came to this book as an outsider to American history, but after reading it I feel as though I have a much-improved sense of the American tradition insofar as that tradition is one rooted in idealism. Ferrara helps his reader better understand how Obama captured this idealism and utilized it in terms of his political rhetoric. “Since this is a rhetorical study,” Ferrara writes early on, “… I am grateful to be spared the burden of aligning the word with reality—a task best left to the political pundits. My interest is specifically in the evocation of a better future toward which we progress gradually, one that offers a sort of collective salvation” (14–15). Drawing heavily on Obama’s own writings—namely, Dreams from My Father (2004) and The Audacity of Hope (2008)—Ferrara exercises academic rigor and resists needless sentimentalism by skillfully integrating these popular texts into the web of political speeches and interviews that flood the information highway. Starting in chapter 1 Ferrara grounds his study of Obama’s rhetoric of hope in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition: “Images of collectivist rebellion against the evils of…

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Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2016-07-18 23:59Z by Steven

Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope

204 pages
softcover (6 x 9)
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-6793-8
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-0339-1

Mark S. Ferrara, Assistant Professor of English
State University of New York, Oneonta

The historical and literary antecedents of the President’s campaign rhetoric can be traced to the utopian traditions of the Western world. The “rhetoric of hope” is a form of political discourse characterized by a forward-looking vision of social progress brought about by collective effort and adherence to shared values (including discipline, temperance, a strong work ethic, self-reliance and service to the community).

By combining his own personal story (as the biracial son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya) with national mythologies like the American Dream, Obama creates a persona that embodies the moral values and cultural mythos of his implied audience. In doing so, he draws upon the Classical world, Judeo-Christianity, the European Enlightenment, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR, slave narratives, the Black church, the civil rights movement and even popular culture.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction: Idealism and the American Mind
  • One–Judeo-Christianity and the Rational Utopia
  • Two–American Founding Documents
  • Three–Slave Narratives, the Black Church and Civil Rights
  • Four–The Legacy of Three Great Presidents
  • Five–The Force of Fiction, Music and Popular Culture
  • Six–Values and the Content of Character
  • Seven–Constructing the Narrative Persona
  • Eight–Universalism, Globalization and the Multicultural Utopia
  • Nine–Rhetoric and the Presidency
  • Ten–The 2012 Campaign
  • Chapter Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
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In First for Sitting President, Obama Publishes a Scholarly Article

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-13 00:32Z by Steven

In First for Sitting President, Obama Publishes a Scholarly Article


Jeff John Roberts

Call him scholar-in-chief

An author named “Barack Obama, JD” published an article on Monday in a scholarly journal. No prizes for guessing the topic: It’s an assessment of the Affordable Care Act as well as policy recommendations for the next president to improve the U.S. health care system.

The article, titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The piece, which contains 68 footnotes to academic journals and government publications, claims to present evidence showing that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped dramatically, and resulted in lower hospital readmission rates. Obama also used the article to recommend the introduction of a “public option” plan in parts of the U.S. and for the federal government to push down drug prices…

Read the entire article here.

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United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-12 23:00Z by Steven

United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

The Journal of the American Medical Association
Published online 2016-07-11
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.9797

Barack Obama, JD
President of the United States, Washington, DC

Importance The Affordable Care Act is the most important health care legislation enacted in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The law implemented comprehensive reforms designed to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health care.

Objectives To review the factors influencing the decision to pursue health reform, summarize evidence on the effects of the law to date, recommend actions that could improve the health care system, and identify general lessons for public policy from the Affordable Care Act.

Evidence Analysis of publicly available data, data obtained from government agencies, and published research findings. The period examined extends from 1963 to early 2016.

Findings The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress toward solving long-standing challenges facing the US health care system related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, primarily because of the law’s reforms. Research has documented accompanying improvements in access to care (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults unable to afford care of 5.5 percentage points), financial security (for example, an estimated reduction in debts sent to collection of $600-$1000 per person gaining Medicaid coverage), and health (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults reporting fair or poor health of 3.4 percentage points). The law has also begun the process of transforming health care payment systems, with an estimated 30% of traditional Medicare payments now flowing through alternative payment models like bundled payments or accountable care organizations. These and related reforms have contributed to a sustained period of slow growth in per-enrollee health care spending and improvements in health care quality. Despite this progress, major opportunities to improve the health care system remain.

Conclusions and Relevance Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs. Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

Read the entire article here.

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CNN pundit goes off on racist whites who think they ‘allowed’ Obama to be president

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Videos on 2016-07-11 22:11Z by Steven

CNN pundit goes off on racist whites who think they ‘allowed’ Obama to be president

Raw Story

David Edwards

Former Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director Angela Rye took issue on Sunday with white Americans who think they “allowed” Barack Obama to become president.

During a panel discussion about race in America, CNN host Fareed Zakaria noted that some pundits had speculated that “the fact that you have allowed in a member of an excluded minority in a strange way gives you license to continue the old pattern of discrimination.”

“Does that make any sense to you?” Zakaria asked. “That the fact that you have elected an African-American actually could mean a certain reversion to patterns of discrimination?”

Rye immediately objected to the premise of the question.

“I think it’s interesting even that you used the term ‘allowed,’ that he was allowed to be there,” she said. “That’s terminology that we would never use to describe the 43 presidents that preceded him.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Posted in Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2016-07-10 22:55Z by Steven

The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

The Aspen Institute

As Michael Eric Dyson notes in the introduction to his 2016 book, “[President] Obama provoked great hope and fear about what a black presidency might mean to our democracy. White and black folk, and brown and beige ones, too have had their views of race and politics turned topsy-turvy.” Join Dyson and The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart for a look at how the politics of race have shaped Obama’s identity and groundbreaking presidency. How has Obama dealt publicly with race—as the national traumas of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott have played out during his tenure? What can we learn from the president’s major speeches about his approach to racial conflict and the black criticism it provokes?

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Racism twists and distorts everything

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-10 01:41Z by Steven

Racism twists and distorts everything

The Washington Post

Darryl Fears, National Enviromental Reporter

For three straight mornings, I’ve eaten breakfast sprinkled with madness. Throughout this week that started with July 4, I’ve woken to horrible news that was tough to swallow.

Like everyone else, I watched videos that captured the nation’s racial angst — two black men shot by police officers for no apparent reason, and a peaceful demonstration to protest those slayings that dissolved into the revenge murder of five police officers.

The details of what happened this week are still being pieced together by investigations in three cities, but what is clear nearly eight years after the election of the first black president is that the idea of a post-racial America was a fantasy.

I covered racial trends and demographics for The Washington Post for eight years ending in 2009, crisscrossing the country to write about segregated schools, crowded prisons and huge immigration marches, and I left the beat thinking that President Obama’s election in 2008 might bring at least a margin of the hope and change he embraced.

But America hasn’t changed…

Read the entire article here.

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