You wonder if President Obama sometimes finds himself singing a variant on Kermit the Frog’s anthem about the burdens of being green: It’s not easy being Barack Obama.
This is not simply or even primarily a matter of color, although the president’s racial background has been a source of both opportunity and trial. As the first African-American in the White House, he has won an unprecedented level of support in the black community and the good will of enough white Americans to build a national majority.
Yet it’s undeniable that racism lurks beneath so many of the preposterously false charges against him — that this son of Hawaii wasn’t really born in the United States, that he is a secret Muslim who “hates America,” that he’s animated by a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Within the African-American community, his persistent emphasis on responsible fatherhood, a key theme of his recent commencement address at Morehouse College, is sometimes cast as a way of pandering to white prejudice by hectoring a community to which he owes a large and still unpaid political debt.
That’s just the start of it. Even more peculiar is an ongoing confusion over how he thinks and what he stands for.