Will The Right Make This Obama’s “Wise Latina” Moment?


obama_7-20Over the weekend a tipster directed our attention to a part of the “President Obama’s African Journey” AC 360 special featuring the interviews Anderson Cooper conducted with President Barack Obama during his trip to Ghana.

One line of the President’s stood out as possible fodder for criticism in much the same way Judge Sonia Sotomayor‘s “wise Latina” comment became a conservative talking point.

Here’s the full passage:

That’s part of the African American experience. You are, in some ways, connected to this distant land, but on the other end, you’re about as American as it gets in some ways. African Americans are more fundamentally rooted in the American experience because they don’t have a recent immigrant experience to draw on. It’s that unique African American culture that has existed in North America for hundreds of years long before we actually founded the nation.

The key line, of course, is “African Americans are more fundamentally rooted in the American experience.” Obama did not expand on this, nor did Anderson Cooper ask a follow up. So did Mr. Obama mean that African Americans are more rooted in American experience than other Americans, or more rooted in American experience than the African experience? Or does it really matter?

Perhaps more importantly, will this become a “gotcha” moment? The quote could imply, at least without proper context, something similar to Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment. It could be the calm before the storm – it hasn’t even been a week since the interview first aired. So far it has been picked up only in the context of a discussion on the African American experience.

Whether the line becomes a conduit for a larger discussion on race in this country, or a talking point for the Obama detractors remains to be seen.

The interview is below, with the key passage starting around the 6:45 mark:

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