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Courtland Milloy: Obama Needs to Follow Through With Threats to Call Out Foes

Talk about clueless.

Clyburn was reportedly exasperated that Obama advisers, who are overwhelmingly white, had urged the president to publicly forgive a man who would not publicly apologize and simply forget about the insult.

And yet, many African Americans just don't have that luxury. We know that part of the price we must pay for having a black president is finding ways to cope with a growing racial backlash.

Obama needs to know that when he gets slapped, figuratively speaking, during a speech to Congress that is being broadcast worldwide, black people everywhere feel the sting.

I suggest that since the young president has a penchant for special advisers, he should appoint a smack-down czar who can school him on how to deal with these increasingly offensive insults.

Lesson one ought to be fairly straightforward: When giving a major policy address and some ill-mannered yahoo yells out an insult, the first thing you do is call out the culprit. Make him stand up and endure the boos. In Wilson's case, stare him down with contempt and pity, then remind the gentleman from Dixie that his side lost -- again -- and that he'd do well to show as much class in defeat as Robert E. Lee.

As for those Republicans rudely waving papers while you're trying to speak, politely request that they fold their documents into cone shapes and sit on them until you are finished.

Then pick up where you left off: ". . . and I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead." If the heckling continues, call Serena Williams. Tell her to bring two tennis rackets.

E-mail: milloyc@washpost.com


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