The time-honored inauguration ceremony for a newly elected United States President is inadequate in today’s information-driven society. Now that blogging and social networking have become a normal part of human interaction, it is vital to keep in mind that, as presidential candidate Barack Obama told the Wisconsin Democratic Party in February, 2008, words matter. The fact that – as with most of Obama’s soaring rhetoric – that particular speech was plagiarized from someone else, is another story. The point, today, is that, following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the President chose to make a remark which, arguably, spurred the prosecution of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin. The Zimmerman verdict, whatever it turns out to be, is a no-win situation for Obama; precisely because he chose to speak out about the shooting.
When a President is inaugurated – right after they recite the Pledge of Allegiance – they should be read their Miranda rights.
That’s not to say that they should immediately be arrested – although this would probably have been a good thing, in the case of several recent Presidents. They should, however, be made aware of the following vitally important truth:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…
The wisest words of Presidents are recorded in the annals of history and dusted off only on special occasions; their dumbest – or most dishonest – statements, by contrast, are recorded by everyone and used time and time again to vilify them. A few of the many classic examples include Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook”; George H.W. Bush’s unforgettable “read my lips; no new taxes”; and Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.” President Obama has given the world enough zingers to compile a lengthy tome, but, in regards to the trial of George Zimmerman, the one that will come back to haunt him is the statement he made in the Rose Garden in March, 2012:
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” he said. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.” Ironically, the President prefaced this bizarre statement with the assertion that “…I’ve got to be careful about my statements to make sure we not impair any investigation that’s taking place right now.”
Once these words escaped his lips, Obama had claimed a personal stake in the outcome of the trial that was to come. Indeed, it can be argued that, without those words, the trial may never have come at all; it should be noted that Zimmerman was not initially charged with any crime. As the Zimmerman trial enters the deliberations phase, the impending verdict will represent a no-win situation for Obama.
There are a number of possible scenarios, depending on the verdict itself: If Zimmerman is acquitted – or even convicted of manslaughter, which has now been presented as a possibility – racist elements of the black community will, possibly, set off riots and acts of random violence; perhaps leading to more murders. In this outcome, Obama will find fingers pointed at him. He will be excoriated, by the Right, for incitement – particularly in light of revelations that his Justice Department is helping to facilitate anti-Zimmerman protests in Florida. In addition, he will be ridiculed for having taken a “losing side” in the trial. He will likely also find himself the target of anger from the Left and from extremists in the black community for not having done anything to ensure Zimmerman’s conviction. It is not the responsibility of a President – nor does it fall even remotely within his authority – to intervene in a criminal case; which is why he should have kept quiet in the first place. Such accusations would be totally unjustified, but his loyal supporters – particularly the uneducated majority of them – look to him to personally right all the wrongs of the world.
Should Zimmerman be convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to a lengthy prison term, there will be a national campaign to free him. This campaign will become a thorn in Obama’s side for the rest of his time in office. He will be accused of prompting the wrongful conviction of an innocent man.
Conviction, or acquittal, for Zimmerman will inevitably lead to a ratcheting up of racial tensions across the nation. Not since the presidency of John F. Kennedy has there been such a bitter racial divide in the United States. Obama did not live up to his billing as the country’s first “post-racial” President. Apart from spiraling unemployment and poverty, Obama has inflicted another injustice upon the black community; although he is not America’s first black President, since he is half-white, he has ensured that there will not be another black Democrat in the White House for, maybe, 20 years or more.
As for George Zimmerman and the impending verdict in his trial; it will become a no-win situation for President Obama.
Because words matter.
An editorial by Graham J Noble