In fact, there was very little mention of Obama's race in the commentary surrounding the event. It was almost taken as commonplace.
“Not for me, though,” Robinson wrote. “Not for a black man who grew up in the segregated South, who attended a rally (my mother tells me) at which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, who lived through the defeat of Jim Crow and the triumph of the civil rights movement. For my two sons, this is history — unfinished history, to be sure, but distant enough that they learned it from books. Their children, in turn, will grow up in a world in which one of the central tenets of American exceptionalism — that anyone can be president — is demonstrably true.”
But Robinson is clearly frustrated by another aspect of the event. There was too much talk about Obama's second term agenda, and not enough about his first-term accomplishments.
“You'd think that steering the economy away from the abyss, passing landmark health-care reform… (and) ending our nation's shameful experiment with torture and ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — for starters — would add up to a pretty impressive first-term résumé,” Robinson wrote. “Voters clearly thought so, but a lot of my fellow pundits seem not to have noticed.”
(And by the way, Keynesian economists such as Paul Krugman argue the stimulus didn't work as well as it could have, because it was too small.)
How about health care reform? Again, time will tell — but the massive bill, passed by a Congress that couldn't have possibly read it in the time allotted, is a dog's breakfast of compromises and cut-outs. It lacks fundamental reform — a “public option” or universal coverage — and it fails to address rising costs or the declining number of doctors.
The next “accomplishments” on Robinson's list seem to be at odds with each other. Surely the policy of drone strikes and targeted assassinations (even of American citizens) are in a similar moral gray area as non-lethal interrogation methods.
Robinson, like all Americans, can be proud of Barack Obama's journey. But let's let history have a say about his actual achievements.