The president weighed in on the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

George Zimmerman- Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel via AP

President Obama’s statement on the George Zimmerman verdict was a bit awkward, almost plaintive:

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy.  Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America.  I know this case has elicited strong passions.  And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher.  But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.  I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.  And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.  We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.  As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.  That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

After stirring the pot by publicly identifying with the victim and helping to ignite a feeding frenzy and outburst of racial animosity, Obama now calls for calm — on behalf of Trayvon Martin once again. Even in trying to stuff the racial genie back in the bottle, he can’t help but take up sides once again (getting in a plug for gun control). He couldn’t bring himself to mention by name George Zimmerman, the man arrested and put through a trial brought on by the political anger Obama amplified.

And yet, the agitators keep pounding away, demanding the Justice Department prosecute Zimmerman for a civil rights violation. Consider that the prosecution could not come close to proving even manslaughter. Consider the trial was devoid of any evidence of racial animus on Zimmerman’s part. Where do they find legal grounds for a second show trial? They know race is at the bottom of it, you see. They are in an endless loop of racial confrontation — create political pressure to bring a weak case and then create outrage when the weak case fails.

Will Obama’s administration keep at it, creating yet another cause célèbre? You see, it’s not so easy to end the racial politics once it’s begun.

It is interesting that the president’s predilection for weighing in on legal matters did not extend to Kermit Gosnell. But neither is it isolated. You recall he opined with no factual basis on the Cambridge police incident. And more recently he politicized another set of legal proceedings, this time to grandstand on gender. The New York Times reported:

When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,” it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country.

In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault.


Despite his background in constitutional law, the president seems to have little sense of the division between politics and law. It is all one big blur, and when convenient, legal cases are simply another opportunity to stir his base. He feels no compunction about running roughshod over defendants’ right to due process. Every case is just fodder for the cause of the moment, a way of winking at his base. (Yeah, we know he’s guilty. We’re on the same side.) And if the country is all the more polarized, well, so be it.

It is one and the same with Obama’s desire for Supreme Court justices who operate with “compassion.” Once again, the impartial administration of justice is sacrificed at the altar of progressive politics. Never mind that justices’ oath of office compels them to treat rich and poor alike.

General issues (race, gender, gun rights) don’t necessarily fit specific legal cases. We try individuals, not causes. Great societal issues should not displace the particular facts and law at issue in each case. (Hence the media infatuation with the “stand your ground” statute, which was entirely irrelevant in a case of simple self-defense.)

In this administration we have seen unprecedented efforts not, as the president lamely called for after the trial, to “widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” but to tear them asunder. Someday maybe we’ll get that post-racial presidency.