Why Sharpton Was Right About Obama

Despite the debate over a black agenda, Obama can't do anything for African Americans that he doesn't do for the rest of the country.

But it’s hard to say that Obama hasn’t done anything for African Americans, because if you accept the premise that he’s done a good job managing a bad economy, then you also have to think that if things were worse overall, unemployment could have been even higher in black America.

The Grio’s Boyce Watkins argued this week that in the end, Sharpton and West’s routine might be a “good cop, bad cop” scenario that helps them drive an inside-outside agenda with the Obama White House. Maybe he’s right that Sharpton will score a few points with Team Obama, but don’t count on the debate altering Obama’s game plan.

When Obama speaks to the nation Wednesday to try to explain how he’ll deal with next year’s federal budget, he’ll be playing defense. “Winning the Future” has already been sidelined in favor of reluctantly pushing his own deficit commission’s proposal to cut entitlements along with raising taxes on top earners — something Obama should have proposed in the State of the Union — as the reasonable alternative to House GOP plans to cut taxes and voucherize Medicare.

Sharpton’s right. There’s not much the president can do without the electorate behind him. And if the electorate — and elections — are dominated by voters who oppose him, Obama’s in the tough position of pushing an agenda, black or otherwise, that a lot of Obama voters didn’t vote for.

David Swerdlick is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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