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GENE ROBERTSON: Some questions for President Obama

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Now that some of us might have President Barack Obama's attention due to the upcoming election, I wish someone such as Bernard Shaw or the late Mike Wallace could interview him. Since it is doubtful Tavis Smiley would be given such an opportunity, why not Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews? 

I would like to have the president receive the questions in advance with a stipulation that he would answer the questions with specificity since he would have had time to consider them beforehand.

I am an African-American whose primary interest is in the plight of all disadvantaged people, regardless of color or religion. I will vote for the president again, but I believe he owes people of color and the disadvantaged some explanation regarding his behavior on our behalf.

The first question I would want the president to answer would address his social passion. I want to know if he has ever participated in any demonstrations or movements such as a labor protest at Harvard or elsewhere in New York or maybe Chicago. The Million Man March? I want to know that he can be passionate administratively when he is not campaigning. From the composition of his staff, I sense a discomfort with African-American males.

My next question would be about African-American men as mentors, staff, consultants etc. Since the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones may no longer make inputs regarding the disenfranchised, what African-American male does? Recognizing that Obama has little congressional support, what other gestures could he make akin to what was accomplished with the DREAM Act to show his support and sensitivity to other disadvantaged groups in regards to jobs, environmental and housing concerns?

More questions would be: How does he think his own mother and father would view his presidential behavior so far? Does he have a black political role model? How does he perceive the disadvantaged and their potential right now? What does he expect from the Congressional Black Caucus? Is he getting the support he needs from them and the Democrats in Congress? What specifically could he and others do to increase employment? What can the most disenfranchised citizens expect from him in regards to policy and programs? 

I am an Air Force veteran who has always had a concern about collateral damage from air assaults. I am even more concerned with what I perceive to be a too cavalier attitude with respect to drone attacks. I would like to see Obama address that topic.

I fully realize the wide array of issues that a leader must address and the pressures, blocks and attacks both direct and indirect. Still, I expect the kind of passionate affirmative actions and administrative agility the job of leader requires. My support for the president can be as strong as it was during his first campaign if I can be persuaded that he is serving my particular interest while he serves the interest of the United States of America. I would expect no less from any presidential candidate than what I am asking of our candidate during this campaign.

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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