Does Obama Have Less Room for Error?

Michael Steele's comments aside, America has long struggled with accepting blacks in leadership roles.

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And it's not just a conservative thing. We shouldn't forget the hysterical doubt among liberals over the progress of Obama's health care reform bill. From the Huffington Post to The Nation to Bill Maher, liberal pundits accused the president of being spineless, too conciliatory--and lacking in cojones. Suddenly he was too intellectual, lacked passion or too disconnected to be a successful president.

Too many liberals assumed that the president would automatically agree with their positions because he is black. When he disagreed, some suggested he wasn't really black--one more reason for him to avoid being cornered on race.

Of course, the liberal tune changed when health care reform became law, but it surely must have been stinging to the president to find such a lack of faith among his own allies. For in the case of Barack Obama, the question many Americans must confront is, "Are you comfortable putting the fate of your country--and your own future--in the hands of a black man?" I thought the voters answered with their votes in November 2008. But whenever the president seems to falter or a new external threat arises, the instant panic suggests that for too many, the answer is, "I'm not sure."

Doubts about Michael Steele, on the other hand? You'd be dumb not to have them.

Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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