A protest in Times Square over the Zimmerman verdict, July 14th. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) People protest in Times Square on July 14  over the Zimmerman verdict. (Craig Ruttle/Associated Press)

While not linguistically impressive, Michael Gerson says, President Obama’s recent speech on race and the Zimmerman case had some powerful ideas about the black experience in America. The criticism Obama received for being overly racially focused, at least in that speech, makes no sense to Gerson. But, Gerson concludes, it would have been much more helpful for Obama to suggest policies that would do something about the problems faced by black American men and boys. Initiatives to strengthen fatherhood, lower minimum sentences and support substance abuse programs are policies Gerson suggests Obama could have suggested.

mben says yeah, speeches and no action are Obama’s m.o.:

Here’s the truth. Obama got criticism because he always gives speeches and then drops the ball and goes golfing.

acepaperman echoes that words are not enough but argues that evolution takes time:

Obama realizes more than any president in history that words change nothing. He spoke about hope and that things are changing, but this is a slow process and that the best you can do is let the process work. As to those who point out the disproportionate amount of African Americans involved in crime, as they slowly ascend the economic ladder, you will see this change too. As Gandhi once pointed out, the worst form of violence against people is poverty.

Aaronweiner says even the speeches could have come earlier:

Gerson is correct that Obama could have tackled the race issue much, much sooner than he actually did. After all, we elected the first black President, and the first black President couldn’t be bothered to talk very much about how he was black! It was almost as if he wanted us to just forget, that if he started that conversation he’d seem like he was favoring his own race.

justonevoice says Obama can’t get these policies passed on his own:

Which one of [Gerson’s] policy proposals would the GOP go along with?

Which jheath53 agrees with, given the personal opposition to Obama that might bleed into his proposals:

Eugene Robinson wrote a column last week about how Obama was probably the wrong guy to address this issue, precisely because his status as a black politician brought too much baggage with it.

And keller1 was glad to have a speech about feelings instead of action:

I think the last thing anyone expected, or wanted, from Obama at this moment was a set of policy prescriptions. There will be another time for that. They wanted the first African-American president to speak as an African-American first, and a president/legislator second, and help explain why this tragic case wrung so much emotion from the black community, as only an African-American can. He did that. Poignantly.

And none of that precludes anyone from passing bills with Gerson’s prescriptions in them.