Reading Matters

New book says Obama ‘hamstrung’ on racial matters

A recent Observer headline: “Jurors agreed race wasn’t at issue in (Randall) Kerrick trial.” When a white policeman kills an unarmed black man? Race wasn’t at issue? Really?

A new book by MSNBC correspondent Joy-Ann Reid, “Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide” (Morrow, $34.99) shows that despite the progress we’ve made, we are still a nation divided. And Obama, whom many blacks -- and whites, too -- had hoped would lead the country across that divide, has, according to Reid, been “hamstrung” when it comes to addressing racial matters. (Admittedly, the book was finished before Obama’s change in tone after the Charleston shootings.)

And why is this so? Reid explores the relationship between Hillary and Bill Clinton and Obama, showing how Democrats have been swept up in shifting allegiances among the power players in the party. Reid points out that after Ferguson, Obama, “demurred” about going to Missouri, saying that there should be no perception that the president of the United States “was taking sides against an individual police officer.”

“If you plan to vote in 2016, you need to read ‘Fracture,’ says Melissa Harris-Perry, who holds the presidential endowed chair in politics and international affairs at Wake Forst University. And Kirkus says: “Provocative and well-argued with plenty of clues on what to watch for in the coming presidential race.”