The Obama administration's string of legislative victories: a historic health care bill, reining in some of the egregious practices of banks, in particular removing them from the student loan process, and the recent bill to curb Wall Street excesses all may be smothered by their awkward handling of racial matters.
I fully understand that if we had a white president the Shirley Sherrod incident would never have happened. However, if it had, the white president may have been a little concerned about appearing racist if he abruptly fired a black employee without first investigating the matter thoroughly. The Obama administration, on the other hand, is so terrified of looking as if they are coddling blacks that they ignore, neglect, or as in the Sherrod case, act precipitously, and wind up alienating the people who put them in office.
President Obama's gut-level response to the ridiculous arrest of Henry Louis Gates was welcomed, but he backed down and staged a "beer summit" to allay the fears of his staff. During his campaign Axelrod and company advised him to steer clear of anything racial, but Obama, with the support of Valerie Jarrett, his only black senior advisor, gave a great speech on race in Philadelphia anyway. The world didn't fall apart and he was elected!
Barack Obama is the president of the entire country, including those who despise his very existence; however, that does not mean that his administration can assume the loyalty of one group and react like cowards to the other. That will only serve to leave them absolutely FRIENDLESS. Remember that the goal of bi-partisan support, while a worthy one, didn't work out in reality. I approve of reaching out to your enemies; however, it's dangerous to do so at the expense of your friends.
WARNING Obama advisors: check with Valerie Jarrett before you run off into the wilderness of racial issues; she's more experienced in these matters than most of you. Otherwise blacks and those idealistic people of all races who put you in office may decide not to come out and vote next time.
Unfortunately, staggering blunders like the firing of Shirley Sherrod have a more lasting resonance than our gratitude for those great legislative achievements.