Grading Obama: Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

The Princeton professor says that President Obama does not embody what he promised in the campaign.

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Whether or not President Barack Obama's first term embodies the idealism of the 2008 campaign is debatable, according to interviews with nine prominent black academics in the run-up to next year's presidential election.

For the fourth in the series, The Root interviewed Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. Read the other interviews here.

The Root: What were your expectations of President Obama's administration as that of the nation's first black commander-in-chief? Does he embody today whatever you saw in him during the campaign?

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.: My expectations were pretty straightforward. I wanted him to undo much of President Bush's agenda: End the Iraq War, close down Guantánamo Bay, repeal the Bush tax cuts and address fundamentally the inequality that threatens the health of the nation. I also wanted him to help us turn the corner on issues of race in this country.

He does not embody what I saw during the campaign. During the campaign, I perceived candidate Obama as much more progressive; what I have come to realize is that most of us "green-screened" him. We made him whatever we wanted him to be. 

TR: Do you believe that Obama has adequately fought for the nation's black communities?

ESG: I don't think so. But I am not sure what has happened behind closed doors. What I do know is that the rhetoric of "lifting all boats" -- a way of talking about race indebted to FDR's capitulation to Southern Democrats -- leaves the particular suffering of black communities unaddressed.

TR: What was your reaction to Obama's rousing "stop crying" speech to the Congressional Black Caucus?

ESG: I didn't make much of it. He got caught up in the moment. I also don't think he would use that language with other groups. It is a reflection of his comfort and his expectations.

TR: Do you believe that Obama has made marked strides toward a "postracial" America?

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