President Obama on Trayvon Martin: “If I Had a Son, He Would Look Like Trayvon”

President Barack Obama has spoken up about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, and while the Commander in Chief did not pledge any particular action, he did offer acknowledgements to the murdered teen’s family that the case had not been handled very well. (Obama also noted that since the Attorney General reports to him, he was required to be cautious in any statements he made about the investigation.)

The Trayvon Martin case has to be a bit tough to navigate for America’s first black president- on one hand, as expected, Obama might identify more heavily with the grieving family of Martin than many white Americans. (And let’s not gloss over the fact that a lot of covert racism has become overt racism since the president took office.)

On the other, when Obama even hints at race, his critics jump all over him and accuse the president of “reverse racism” or any other number of silly allegations that have probably led to some oversensitivity on his part overall. To wit, if Obama did promise action on Trayvon Martin’s murder, the GOP outrage machine would go into overdrive and a million unsolved murders of white people would be held up as evidence that Barack Obama does not care about white people. So the president is probably left in the uncomfortable position of having to speak very carefully on Trayvon Martin- legality notwithstanding- when it is likely he is just as horrified and outraged as the rest of us about the continuing lack of justice in the case.

Obama hinted at patience- a common refrain from authorities in the wake of the shooting and one that many find frustrating, as it’s not often that civilians can shoot unarmed civilians on suburban streetcorners and remain free while the crime is investigated. But the president did express a degree of sadness over the killing, saying:

“When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids… I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative to investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together – federal, state and local – to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”

Obama continued in a lawyerly fashion:

“I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen… And that means we examine the laws, the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

Lastly, the president had a message for Martin’s grieving mom and dad, saying:

“But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin: If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are gonna take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

While it’s tempting to think that President Obama can rush in and swiftly bring down the hammer of justice in the Martin case, realistically, it seems a resolution might be a long time coming. Do you think that progress in the Trayvon Martin case is imminent, or will George Zimmerman continue to not be called to account for his crimes? (Below, a video of Barack Obama’s statement this morning on Trayvon Martin.)

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